Blue Boy

This super-sized snake “outsourced” his skin care.
  • 1930s
  • 1950s

Blue Boy was impressively large. When he arrived in San Diego in 1936, he already measured 14 feet long, and he added another 4 feet over the next 18 years of his life at the Zoo. Blue Boy was aptly named—the beautiful bluish iridescence of his scales was part of the reason he was one of the most admired and best-known reptiles at the Zoo.

As a snake grows, its outer layer of skin loosens. Every snake goes through a shedding process, which involves rubbing against an object to slough the old covering. During the time Blue Boy was on display, he shed, on average, every 55 days—but not without a little help from his “friends!”

Blue Boy would get the shedding process started, getting the old covering off of his head, but then would stop every time. It fell to the reptile curator and another staff member to step in to remove the remaining skin from the 180-pound snake, in what was described as a tiring and backbreaking effort.

For his part, Blue Boy seemed to enjoy the experience, arching his back like a cat and welcoming their care, which occurred regularly over his lifetime.

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