Did you know that there are quite a few animals that molt? Molting is the process by which animals shed their skin, fur, feathers, or exoskeleton. There are many mammals, reptiles, insects, and even birds that molt for many reasons. Some of these creatures lose their looks because they need room to grow, while others replace thick winter coats with more breathable summer clothing. There are even animals that shed to attract a partner – just like you might buy new clothes for a first date!
The reasons for molting are almost as varied as the types of creatures that do. In this article, we will learn about 10 interesting animals that molt.
# 10 Animals that molt: reticulated python
Snakes are probably one of the animals that almost everyone is familiar with from molting or molting, but the reticulated python (Python reticulated) is something special. This snake does not know its maximum size and will continue to grow as long as it lives. The longest recorded specimen was nearly 30 feet long and weighed an astonishing 550 pounds.
Reticulated pythons live in Southeast Asia, the Indo-Pacific islands, parts of Australia, and even tropical regions of Africa. They shed initially as soon as they hatch and will continue to shed their skin to repair injury or promote growth throughout their lives. When healthy, reticulated pythons shed their entire skin, just like other snakes.
# 9 Animals that molt: Red-tailed hawk
Birds are another common animal that is thought of when it comes to molting. Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is found throughout North America and gets its name from the bright red tail feathers that are part of the plumage of adults. This is a direct result of the molting process. Born with a color that is usually brown or white with brown spots, these hawks molt in the spring of their first year of life and acquire adult flight feathers and red tail feathers of adults. They then continue to shed during the breeding season, which rebuilds their distinctive tail feathers and also replaces any feathers that have been lost or damaged over time.
# 8 So Many Animals: Leopard Gecko
Leopard Gecko (Eublefaris macular) is native to the Middle East, India and Nepal, but is most common as a popular pet. These lizards are docile and easy to breed, which directly led to their popularity. They shed their skin because it does not expand as they grow, like other reptiles and lizards. Fast growing young geckos may not molt more than once a week if they are experiencing a growth spurt, while adult geckos do not molt in a regular pattern.
An interesting fact about the leopard gecko is that it eats up its shed skin as it sheds. It is not known exactly why they do this, but it is suspected that geckos either need additional nutrients or eat them to hide their presence from possible predators.
# 7 Animals that molt: burrowing owl
Burrowing owls (Athena cunicular) are widespread in both North and South America and molt, like almost all birds. What’s interesting about burrowing owls is that they live on land and feed mainly on small mammals. They have been studied in various parts of their range, and researchers have learned that wild migratory burrowing owls synchronize their annual molt with the end of their breeding season. This is presumably done to optimize replacement of nibs that have been damaged by prolonged exposure to grounded sockets.
Their molting periods can be as short as a few weeks, but can also last up to several months depending on a variety of factors. It is characteristic of all these birds that they completely replace all their feathers even before the molt is completed.
6. Animals that molt: German Shepherd.
Domestic dogs (Lupus vulgaris) also shed. This behavior is much more noticeable in breeds such as the German Shepherd, which are accustomed to living in colder climates. Pronounced periods of fur shedding usually occur in spring and autumn. Spring shedding tends to be more apparent as the dog sheds its heavy winter coat, which is used for weather protection. Autumn molting in many breeds of dogs is less pronounced, since the summer coat is thinner; however, long-haired breeds such as the German Shepherd manage to shed an impressive amount of hair.
It is known that the first few molting cycles in a new puppy’s life will slightly change the color of the dog.
# 5 So Many Animals: Elk
Like the domesticated dogs above, wild animals such as elk (Cervus elaphus) also molt twice a year. Also, as in dogs, spring shedding is much more obvious to the eye, as the long winter coat sheds completely and new hair grows back all over the elk’s body, but autumn shedding occurs when winter shedding grows on top of the much shorter summer coat. … Elk doesn’t shed all that fur without some irritation. It is very common to see these animals scratching or licking all parts of their body that they can reach in order to hasten the loss of this fur.
# 4 Animals that molt: the Mexican red-breasted tarantula.
Arachnids are another group of animals that molt, and like many other creatures on this list, they need to do it in order to grow. Spiders such as the red-knee Mexican tarantula (Brachypelma smithi) are enclosed in a rigid external structure called an exoskeleton. The exoskeleton gives the spider the structure and support that the internal skeleton gives mammals, but the exoskeleton cannot grow with animals like our bones.
As the name suggests, the red-knee Mexican tarantula is native to Mexico, but it is also often bought as pets. Their striking appearance with bandaged legs and red knees is admirable, and they are docile enough to handle them. Newly hatched spiders will molt every two weeks for up to four months, and then less often. Males do not shed after about five years, but females continue to shed their exoskeleton, albeit infrequently.
# 3 Animals that molt: American lobster
American lobster (Homarus Americanus), also known as the Manx or Atlantic lobster, is another molting animal and the largest lobster species in the world. These lobsters not only molt, but most lobsters naturally die when they stop molting. Lobsters are another creature that will continue to grow throughout their lives, and since they also live in an exoskeleton, they need to shed their shell in order to keep growing. The lobsters are estimated to be over 100 years old; however, they eventually stop producing the chemical that allows the shedding process to begin. Once this occurs, the lobster becomes prone to a host of bacterial and other shell infections that ultimately become fatal.
The largest American lobster ever recorded weighed just under 45 pounds and is believed to be around 100 years old. These crustaceans also have the ability to repair damaged, infected, or lost claws and legs.
# 2 Animals that molt: the African pygmy frog
Amphibians mostly shed their skin, and frogs like the African dwarf frog (Hymenochirus Boettgeri) are no different. Since these frogs actually breathe through their skin, molting allows them to maintain a moist, breathable barrier free of fungus, disease, and any potential parasites. The cloudy appearance of their skin is a sign of impending shedding, and the skin is usually shed in whole or in several large portions. Highlighting a few small areas can be a sign of infection.
African dwarf frogs are similar to leopard geckos in that they also often eat their skin after molting to replenish nutrient losses in the process. Frogs differ in that some will eat during a 1-3 day molt session, while others will starve.
# 1 Animals There Are Many: Scorpio
Our last animal to molt looks a lot like a land lobster, but is actually more related to spiders. Scorpions are arachnids that are found all over the world and range in size from 0.5 to 7 inches in length. Baby scorpions ride on their mother’s back after birth and become completely independent immediately after their first molt. At this point, they leave their mother and go to a world where they prefer warm and dry places. These night hunters hide during the day and roam at night.
As you can see, there are a lot of molting animals in the world. The reasons for their molting are almost as different as those of animals with fur or scales, and of skin-breathing amphibians, and of our feathered friends, and we have not even mentioned any of the animals that undergo metamorphosis along with molting. …
Next: 10 animals that change color