This is obviously the first step to owning a corn snake or to owning any kind of reptile. You need to ensure that you have a proper structure that will fit any kind of animal you plan to put inside of it and in this case, we’re going to shop for the perfect cage for a corn snake. First and foremost, you want to make sure that the enclosure has a very tight fitting enclosure for a couple of reasons.
Number one, you want to make sure that your snake isn’t going to escape outside of the enclosure which can and does happen. Even a corn snake can slither its way out of an enclosure that looks too small to slide out of. Not a lot of people believe it can happen until they check the cage the next morning just to find that their snake is missing in action. Corn snakes are natural escape artists as are most slithery reptiles.
One of the most common causes of a snake going missing is carelessness or an owner thinking “ah hell, it’s not that big of a hole, it can’t get out of there.” It’s simple mistakes like that , that cause the snake to go missing through your house and no matter how much you love snakes, I’m not sure anyone loves the idea of a corn snake sliding around through their house unknown on their whereabouts. The next thing you’ll want to make sure of is that they have efficient air ventilation in their caging but not too much.
Some caging is bad for corn snakes because of the amount of over-ventilation that it has. When you have cages with way too much open space, you’ll run into the problem of over-ventilation which can cool a snake down way too much. This can have deadly consequences if you’re not careful because a corn snake requires a certain temperature to grow at an optimal rate and to remain healthy. More importantly, most snakes like the corn snake will only eat at a certain temperature as well which affects their mood.
Cages with screen sides may not be recommended by some but they can be used successfully as long as you have proper heating inside of the cage which will be covered in the heating section of the guide. However, if you don’t like the idea of screen sides or open cages, then you might want to consider getting an aquarium style caging system that has ventilation on top of the cage, which seems to be a preferred choice among many in the reptile community. Now, for the hatchlings, you’re going to want a different size than the mature adults but it’s not a bad idea to start with a mature cage (as some say not to do).
For your hatchling corn snakes, the ideal size for a small enclosure is generally going to be 12 x 8 inches. You’ll want to make sure that it’s at least a minimum of 3 inches tall but honestly, what enclosure for snakes isn’t 3 inches tall? I would personally recommend something that is at least 5 or 8 inches tall at a minimum but with the higher height, you’ll also have the more heating requirements and more maintenance that you’ll have to do as well, so it’s up to you what kind of cage system you want to provide.
These length cages and ventilation will be suitable until they reach up to 2 feet in length and during that time, it may be time to upgrade. However, the benefit you have with the larger tanks is that you’re going to have two separate areas where you can distinctly cool off and heat up the aquarium at the same time. With the smaller cages, it’s going to be harder to do so because of the confined space and it’ll be much harder to set two distinct different areas to heat up or cool down the cage. So while a large cage may be intimidating and seem like a great idea, it’s probably best to start with the smallest cage that you can get away with.
Also, if you’re a new owner, it’s recommended that you get the minimum sized cage you can until you get used to the maintenance involved in cleaning them and keeping them in order as well. Just remember, if there’s a hole or gap the size of a corn snake’s snout, then it will more than likely be able to slide out of it and escape, so for this reason, it’s very important that you make sure they can’t escape or that there’s no holes. Run your fingers along some questionable areas of the cage and do a thorough check before hand, before making any kind of purchase decisions.
Shelter will be one of the key and essential tools to help not only keep your cage clean but to keep your pet healthy as well for a couple of reasons. To really understand what makes a great shelter, you have to understand why a shelter is necessary in the first place. When it comes to providing shelter to any animals period, you have to consider a few different things such as location, the type of shelter used and what kind of animal they are. For the sake of this article, we’ll be discussing utilizing the best shelter available for the corn snake.
First, there’s the kind of shelter you can buy directly from the store and this is obviously the most common type of shelter. There are many different models of shelter you can purchase from the store, and some may be better than others or at least more appealing to look at. So what are some of the different aspects you should consider before purchasing or crafting shelter? First, you have to consider whether or not cosmetic appeal has any influence on you. Are you looking to build a cage for your corn snake that resembles a certain theme or looks good? Or rather, are you just trying use whatever works?
If you’re trying to create a distinct and certain theme for example, say a Jungle theme, then you’re probably going to want something that resembles what shelter might look like in a jungle. The most common choice for these types of cages are the log shelters that are relatively cheap or you can make one yourself with a small tree trunk. However, if you have a desert theme, you might want to go with a building or a sand dune for your shelter, it’s all about what looks relative to you.
So while there are plenty of options available for you to buy shelter, you also have other options available for you as well in terms of crafting. Don’t worry, this isn’t some lengthy or hard art project, these can be done with some common household objects you more than likely have laying around or a pair of scissors.
One option you have is to take an empty milk jug and to cut out one side of it. Leaving 50% of the jug in-tact, you can then cover the jug with masking tape or duct tape and paint it black. After it’s completely dry, you can then put it inside the cage and you have a shelter. Obviously, make sure that the opening hole to get into the shelter is large enough for the snake to get into, but don’t make it too large so that a lot of light gets into it. A lot of snakes don’t really like light or natural lighting. The light makes them angry and distresses them if they’re in it for a long period of time.
You can also take a cereal box and use that as shelter as well. You don’t have to paint it black or do anything special to it, but I recommend doing something or else you’ll be staring at “Trix” for a while until you replace it. All you have to do is cut a hole on the lid of cereal box to allow the corn snake to get into the box and use the place as shelter. You don’t have to necessarily cut out a bottom but it’s preferred because you want that substrate to be under the snake and not the bottom of the box. There’s no real wrong way to provide shelter as long as you’re providing adequate shelter that will hide it from the light.
They also need a place to go during hibernation and when they’re breeding, so having shelter is essential. Without shelter, you could be potentially killing your pets slowly as they will stop eating due to depression and over longed exposure to sunlight.
Picking the best possible housing for your pets is something that many new corn snake owners find difficult because it’s hard to imagine the perfect house for a snake. When you imagine where a snake lives, you imagine a jungle in the middle of nowhere, and a snake sliding along, just killing rodents and hiding in logs. There are a lot of different aspects that go into owning a corn snake because like all other animals, when they’re separated from the wild, their needs to survive go up.
Housing is one of the most important aspects of keeping them healthy because with inadequate housing you face a lot of serious risks to you and the pet. First off, if you have any kind of gaping holes or gaps anywhere in the housing or caging, then you might be running the risk of losing your pet overnight. Snakes are very sneaky creatures and just like the rodents they eat, they can slide through just about anything as long as there’s an opportunity present.
Your housing needs to have a few different essential things to make sure that you’re building a house that will not only grow a mature corn snake but make sure he grows up to be healthy as well.
First is length, as we discussed in the caging section, you need to make sure the housing area is adequate in length for the corn snake to move around and not be curled up in a ball due to lack of space. If you ever have any doubts about how much space the corn snakes are going to need, just go by this general rule of thumb: they should be at least twice the length of the corn snake and at least 5 inches high by recommendation. Everyone might have their own recommendation but it’s preferred to have a little bit of room off the ground should you have to use multiple heating lamps and to prevent overheating.
Next which is covered in a different guide is substrate and the environment. While the majority of the environment is cosmetic only, meaning you can pretty much set it up to however you like, there are some smart choices you can make here that may make the life of your pet better. First of all, you’ll have your water which should be placed closed to the shelter and be in the cool spot of the tank, and you’ll have your other areas of the cage that you’ve setup which can be setup to whatever your liking is. It’s not required to setup your water near your shelter but it’s just a better layout.
Setting up the housing layout generally falls into, whatever looks best to you and there’s no right and wrong way to do it. Some people will prefer one way and some people will prefer another.
Heating is essentially the most important part of taking care of a corn snake because without adequate or proper heating, it could die or stop eating which could lead to death. This is why it’s nearly essential to make sure that you have the correct heating precautions and parameters in place. The first thing you need to know about corn snakes is that they’re what’s called ectothermic. Basically what this means is, they don’t exactly have the ability to create their own body heat or they lack the ability to which is a fatal flaw in the animal world.
So basically what that boils down to is, they prefer to live in humid clients to keep them warm or they depend on their owner when they’re in captivity to make sure that they stay in a healthy environment. When it comes to their metabolism, this is directly effected by the temperature around them and plays a huge role in determining how much they’ll lose or gain with weight. In order to facilitate the proper metabolism required for a healthy corn snake or a snake period, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re providing the best and most accurate temperature according to the guide.
Cold blooded really often refers to how people describe snakes but they’re usually called cold blooded because when you touch them, they’re primarily cold in nature. When snakes were first discovered, it wasn’t until they were first handled that people discovered they lacked the ability to create their own body heat. Also, the fact they tend to like and live in warm climates also attributed to this speculation as well. One of the most interesting things about a corn snake is that even if your cage is the appropriate temperature, you’ll notice that if you handle or touch them, they feel cold to the touch.
When they’re indoors, the common outer skin temperature for a corn snake is about 90 degrees and can range up to 95 degrees. For this reason, a lot of new pet owners are misguided into thinking that their snakes are cold and should be placed in a more heated environment. No matter how hot it is in your cage, they’re going to feel cold to the touch, that’s just their general nature. In fact, when they’re warm and feel cold to the touch, this is the ideal condition for eating, raising their appetite and ingesting food.
One of the main tools you have to make sure that heating is appropriate will be the monitor and the thermometer. Also, it’s advised that you pick up a hand held temperature gun but some owners don’t use one. It’s not absolutely required but if you want to make sure that their shelter is cool and that one area of the cage is cooler than the other, then it’s highly recommended. A snake’s eyelids are known to protect them from harmful UV light and it bothers them as well. They can’t stand being in the light too long.
The perfect or at least ideal temperature to have inside of a cage is usually anywhere from 80 to 84 degrees at least for the corn snake. There are a few different areas of placement where you can stick thermometers but you also have to make sure you have the best thermometer for the job as well. When it comes to heating your corn snake, you’re going to become familiar with two different terms which are UT and OT. UT refers to Under Tank and OT refers to Over Tank which refers to the locations at which your corn snakes will receive heat from. However, it’s recommended that at least for the corn snakes, you use what’s known as UT heating. This is because it’s more accurate than OT heating and they receive a better portion of the heat to their body from the bottom of the cage.
It’s different for different breed of snakes and owners but for the corn snake, it’s better off to recommend that you use UT methods. However, there’s nothing wrong with using over tank heating methods and you can use heat lamps to successfully raise a corn snake without any issues. You’ll notice that on some particularly cool days or during the cooler season, they like to play in the light more and that they like to be out of their shelter when they’re not hibernating but for a good majority of the year, they’ll be lying where it’s cool.
When monitoring the temperature of the under tank heater, you want to make sure that the glass on top of the heater doesn’t exceed over 120 degrees. However, if this does go a little bit over, it shouldn’t be of great concern, because your snake more than likely isn’t going to lie down on top of the heather, so it should be alright. While some owners have complained that other breed of snakes like to burrow down too close to the heaters and have died from doing such things, it’s never been a concern for the corn snake as there’s not really any occurrences of them burning themselves or getting too close to a under tank heater.
The primary reason and goal of substrate is to absorb any kind of fecal matter that the snake leaves behind and it’s also used to absorb spilled water. Now people on a tight budget have their own little recipe and methods for making substrate, or some people even use substrate, but one of the great things about corn snakes or snakes in general is that you can use a pretty wide variety of different substrates without any harmful effects or negative consequences except for one particular type of substrate.
There’s one and only one type of substrate that you should never use for any kind of snake ever and that’s the cedar substrate. If any material of the substrate you’re considering has cedar in it, then you need to put it back and find something else because what cedar essentially does to your snake is gives off toxic chemicals and will be lethal to your pet in little time. So it’s highly recommended that unless you prefer shopping for new pets, that you stay away from using cedar substrate.
Not only does substrate make an amazing absorbent but some substrates are known to help with the awful smell that can come with fecal matter that’s just been building up. Some people prefer to use newspapers for this and while that’s fine, I definitely don’t recommend using this as a method of substrate if you’ve happened to use an under tank heater because, well you do the math. A 120 degree heater sitting there all day lit under some newspaper is just a recipe for disaster. Your issue might be a bit bigger than the snake being harmed if that 120 degrees happens to catch that newspaper on fire, so you might want to use some common sense while choosing substrate in accordance with your cage setup.
Also, among the cedar list there are two other substrates you don’t want to use especially for corn snakes. Those would be sand or gravel. There are actually quite a few decent reasons and solid logic behind the disallowance of using sand or gravel as substrate for snakes. First of all, they’re not absorbent and they aren’t going to help you much in collecting fecal matter but they sure will stick out like a sore thumb. Have you ever seen fecal matter in gravel or in sand? It sticks out but it doesn’t exactly conceal or absorb it very well.
Another reason not to use sand or gravel with corn snakes is because they’re prone to ingesting the gravel or sand and due to their size, this could be harmful. Imagine if one of the sharp rocks from the gravel got caught in the throat of the snake, you’d be purchasing a new snake. Also, sand doesn’t mix well with sunlight and can actually blind your pet if they’re very sensitive to sunlight such as the corn snake. It’s not that they can’t handle sunlight but they’re on the ground all day with their eyes only a mere inch or less from the ground and that UV light is reflected.
While some snakes can handle sand, it’s not recommended for corn snakes. So what’s the best recommendation for corn snakes and what’s the best recommendation for the majority of snakes? Mulch is more than likely your best and most preferred choice for snakes. Mulch is very cheap, economic and cost effective and it’s healthy for the tank as well. Not only that, but it’ll help make maintenance easy as well. Mulch absorbs fecal matter, excrement or anything else in the cage that shouldn’t be in there quite well. You won’t ever have to worry much about cleaning the cage because it’s really easy with mulch.
When it comes to feeding your pet corn snake, they don’t diff much from most snakes, so they’re going to prefer that you have some live bait for them. While they can eat non-live bait, some snakes are known to refuse to eat and stop eating period if you try to slowly get them off live bait and switch them to dead bait. They prefer the activity and the hunt because in the wild, that’s how they have to get their food and while they may be born in captivity, every animal still has that nature instinct.
However, if you think feeding your corn snake birds or other wild animals is a good idea then you might want to think again, because not only might these things have infections but you have no idea what kind of parasites might be living inside of these animals. Also, some people are under the false impression that you can just freeze a rodent that was captured in the wild and that will kill off any toxins or infections that a rodent previously had and this simply is not true. If you do this, all you’re doing is making it very cold and you’re not making a very appetizing or appealing meal to the snake.
So freezing something doesn’t necessarily actually render a wild caught rodent harmless to a corn snake, all it’s doing is freezing it. Basically, if there was any kind of infection or toxin within that animal when you froze it, the infection will more than likely have remained inside and could possible infect your corn snake when ingested. This isn’t to say that your snake will be infected guaranteed if you feed it live wild life food because they eat like this when they’re in the wild. However, when they’re brought up in captivity, they’re not used to eating anything from the wild life and this should be avoided. That’s why it’s recommended to only feed them live captivity rodents.
However, some people have reported that their snake is refusing to eat some domestic live rodents and if this is the case with yours, then you should probably consult a snake breeder or a veterinarian to see what can be done. Also, you might benefit from giving it vitamins in the meantime to ensure that it’s getting all the necessary nutrients while you try to get it to eat live rodents.
When you’re trying to figure out what size rodent you should be feeding to your snake, there’s usually a good thumb of rule to follow here and that is that you shouldn’t feed something twice the diameter of the snake’s body girth. Also, without the proper temperature present, you might have trouble getting your pet to ingest some rodents and might regurgitate the rodent, which I assure you is not very appealing or good to look at. However, when you first receive your snake or while raising them, you want to feed them something that’s 1/2 a size smaller than the recommended while it gets used to everything.
Corn snakes learn very quickly and adapt very quickly as well. When you buy a new corn snake, they’re going to be stressed by the transportation and the surroundings of the snake might be confusing at first because they were just taken from one home and put into another one. Also, before feeding the snake full sized meals, you want to monitor the temperature of the cage and make sure that it’s up to standard before you start feeding full sized meals in order to avoid regurgitation.
All animals alike including the corn snake require drinking water and water in general to help keep them cold. The two areas I’d like to cover are drinking water and misting water which technically could be covered in temperature but I feel is a separate issue than the general temperature of the environment. First, there’s one of the most important aspects of owning any pet, and that’s providing them with a clean suitable source of water at all times, whether it’s for drinking or cooling off.
Drinking water should be relatively clean and shouldn’t be something that you yourself wouldn’t dare touch. A good general rule to live by when you’re raising or own a corn snake is, if you look at the water bowl and think to yourself “absolutely disgusting”, then it’s more than likely time to change the bowl because that’s the water that you’re making your corn snake drink and rest in. Reptiles in general don’t generally like to rest in or around water that much but there are a few exceptions and a few breeds do enjoy it.
Inspect your water daily when you’re doing your daily maintenance or at least check it every couple of days to make sure that it’s still safe and sanitary. There are a few different risks you run for your corn snake or any pets you have that drink dirty water. First, there are droppings or excrement that might get into the bowl or water. It’s not an ideal place for pets to let loose their dropping but it’s not exactly like they mean to do it every time and it’s hard to teach reptiles exactly where to go, so this does happen. If you do notice droppings inside the water, then just be sure to give them a new bowl of water and try to setup the habitat a little better so that they’ll go elsewhere.
Second, if you feed your pets live rats or live bait, some of them might scurry into the water and leave their own mess behind. Now, while in general, these live baits are usually gotten from a pet shop, if you did obtain some from the wild or elsewhere, then you don’t know what exactly that rodent had and what it could have left in the water, so it’s best to clean it out. Corn snakes generally are only going to eat captive bred rodents as a recommendation but this is just a better safe than sorry approach.
Where should you place your bowl and the water? You want to make sure that the bowl is somewhere in the habitat that it can reach easily and it should also be placed on the cool section of the habitat. It will be rather humid and hot in the rest of the habitat so right next to the shelter isn’t that bad of an idea actually. It’ll be rather easy to access and it will provide a nice cool place to cool off in a place that’s not warm.
Some people prefer to stay away from city tap water as well but there’s generally usually nothing wrong with the city tap water, unless you’re someone who believes they’re putting stuff in the water to control your mind. All kidding aside, it’s not the worst idea to put some bottled and purified water into a bowl as the bottled water is relatively cheap and won’t harm the snakes. However, there are different documents that state city tap water does contain a certain amount of chlorine in the water and that it can be harmful to snakes.
There’s debate among this topic and whether this is true or not ranges from area to area. However, just to be safe, grab a shallow bowl and fill it with purified or bottled water.
The great debate for reptiles or animals in general is whether or not vitamins really too much of a difference. So do they or is it all just hype and marketing to get you to spend money you don’t need to spend? First off, we’ll get right into it and say that both of these answers are right, it’s both a marketing hype and it’s an essential part of helping your snake grow healthy. A lot of people have more than likely heard of vitamins such as Calcium or Vitamin C capsules specifically for snakes but do they really work?
First off, you should know that a majority of the vitamins that a snake obtains (even the corn snake) will more than likely come from the food they eat. So while they’re feeding and if they’re feeding at a healthy rate, then the majority of their essential vitamins that help them grow into healthy and mature adults will come from the animals that they eat. Why are vitamins so essential to healthy growing in the first place?
Things like Calcium and Vitamin C play a huge role in a lot of different things in not only animals but the growth as humans as well. Your ability and your pet’s ability to fight off infections are hugely affected by the amount of Vitamin C and Calcium in your or their body. If your pet isn’t getting enough vitamin C or calcium, then they’re prone to getting infections easier meaning there’s a risk they could die if they’re infected by say a live rodent that they feed on or from something in the habitat.
Vitamins aren’t a necessity to keeping your pet alive but they could be if you’re not monitoring your pet and making sure that they’re staying healthy. For example, if your corn snake doesn’t seem to be eating much for whatever reason, then you might need to consider some vitamins for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, if your snake doesn’t seem to be eating much, it could mean that it’s depressed and while there’s a few different things that could be causing this depression, eating is essential to helping the corn snake grow.
Whether it be the weather inside the cage is too humid, or they’re not getting enough to eat, if they become depressed, they must just stop eating in general which is where vitamins will potentially save their lives. Now, I know it’s hard to pick and choose which vitamins are best for your pet because there seems to be a huge plethora of vitamins out there on the market and they all seem to be the “absolute best” for your pet. Well are they? Not hardly, because some of them are just a different label and a different price tag with a different marketing gimmick.
However there are quite a few out there that do their intended job and do it very well. So how exactly do you go about choosing which vitamin supplement is going to be the best for your pet? Well first, let’s go over which vitamins will essentially boost the production and growth of your corn snake and which have been found to be the most effective. First, there’s Vitamin C which we covered as helping the immune system but there’s other benefits as well.
Vitamin C not only fights infections at a rapid rate more than the natural body anti-infection cells can but the corn snake growth production cycle is rapidly effected by Vitamin C as well. This is why it’s important whether it be through food or through vitamins that it has an ample amount of Vitamin C in its body.
Next up is Calcium and there’s a lot of debate on giving Calcium to corn snakes but these help strengthen snakes and help them grow as well. So all in all, while vitamins aren’t an absolute necessity, you will see a rapid health improvement if you do feed them vitamins and it doesn’t hurt anything. Your corn snake isn’t going to overdose on vitamins if you accidentally feed them too much, the most harm you’ll notice is that they produce extra waste.
Hibernation is something that a lot of different animals go through. Snakes however have a very unique type of hibernation process because usually that’s when they begin their mating process as well. There isn’t a whole lot of information on the hibernation process of corn snakes because while some owners are in denial that corn snakes hibernate at all, some people note that they have a pretty usual cycle of hibernation and it’s about the same as most other snakes.
One of the most common questions you’ll see posted is asking if the corn snakes do in fact hibernate because not a lot of people have witnessed this happening. Before the shedding process begins, you’re going to want to make sure that it has had a big meal inside of its stomach so that it can naturally hibernate and be well fed during the process. This is when you want to make sure you feed the snake a big meal so that it remains healthy through the process.
How long does the hibernation process last? Usually it lasts for about 8 weeks but times vary depending on who you ask. Some people say they last 8 weeks in hibernation and some people say they can go from December to March, so it really depends on who you ask and the general experience of owning a corn snake.
One essentially important thing to remember and to watch for is to make sure the temperature is cooler during hibernation than it would be during the summer or spring months. This is because if it’s too humid in the cage, then it won’t properly ingest the food it ate right before hibernation. This is the key and essential step to making sure they stay healthy when hibernating, they need to have not only a well fed meal but they need to have a cooler temperature as well due to their lack of activity.
All snakes shed their skin and as your corn snake grows, it will shed its own skin as well. When a corn snake is small, you might notice that they’re shedding their skin at a rapid rate compared to other snakes which is once every few weeks or sometimes even sooner. However as they get older, you’ll notice that the time between sheds increases casually. When they mature into an adult, you’ll note that corn snakes only shed their skin only once every few months instead of their young maturing schedule of once every few weeks.
Before the shedding occurs, you’re going to notice that they go through a dark skin looking phase which is known as the blue phase. This is completely normal and happens to all snakes before they shed. Also, a few days before they shed, you’re going to notice that the eyes look a bit more clouded than usual and sort of milky. This isn’t a cause for concern but this is completely natural and some people report that they don’t notice this happening at all. Basically, when you notice this cloudy eye look, it’s going deep into its own “blue phase”.
Only after the blue phase is over with, the eyes will clear up and the colors will begin to appear normal again. This is normal and while some owners complain that they don’t shed after the blue phase is over, that’s because they’re not supposed to, there is always a wait time. After a few days, the shedding process will begin which truly is a nice sight to watch. When it’s ready to shed, you’ll notice that the snake looks for a corner or some type of edge in the cage so that it can rub its nose on it like it has an itch.
Instead of taking ages, the shedding process is actually going to come off in one big piece and should be effortless. However, some owners report that not all of the skin comes off in one go and that you’ll find yourself with some extra skin hanging on there. It’s important to note that this skin needs to be removed with caution because it could become infected and create problems for your snake. Also, unlike some snakes, corn snakes will like to soak in the water bowl or get wet before they shed. It might help if you mist the snake as well to assist in the shedding process.
Misting is the simple process of spraying the snake with a little bit of water to not only help keep it cool but in this particular case, to help it with shedding as well. If not all of the skin comes off then what you can simply do is take a wet pillowcase and make sure you have drained out all of the water. You want the pillowcase to be rather moist but not soaking wet. Then, you want to carefully place the snake inside of the pillow cage and place it in a tub which is carefully placed underneath a heat lamp.
Make sure you have tied the ends of the pillow case so that the snake can’t escape or else you’ll have a mad shedding snake in your house. Then, after a couple of hours, you want to make sure that all of the skin has come off and usually it does after this process, so you don’t have to worry. Usually all the slithering around they do in the case while wet and moist removes any excess skin and if it doesn’t, you can carefully hold and hand remove any excess skin.