Farting is not the first behavior you would expect from a snake, but is it even possible? Do snakes suffer from gas and farting, and is this common throughout the species? While other animals are known to fart, is this reptile exempt? After doing some research, I’ve learned what these slithery animals can and can’t do. I’d like to share this information with you.
So, do snakes fart? Snakes can and do fart. However, due to being strict carnivores, they are less likely to fart than other mammals (as diet plays a crucial role in this behavior and the creation and buildup of gas). In a healthy snake, farts are infrequent and unlikely to be heard and smelt. Interestingly, some species of snakes fart as a defensive mechanism to ward off predators.
Snakes have a lot of their unique traits and behaviors, yet this is not one of them. This is something that we share in common.
Let us now take a closer look at the causes of flatulence, how we know that snakes can do them, and some other considerations any owner should be aware of.
What Causes Farts?
Farting is one of those biological phenomena we tend to not talk about.
Despite the embarrassing and socially unacceptable nature of farts, the event is completely healthy and natural (in the right doses).
We find something inherently funny about the weird noises thundering from down under, but what exactly are they?
A fart refers to the anus expelling gas.
If you want to be more professional about it, the world flatulence comes from the Latin word, flatus.
This originally referred to blowing or breathing actions, so it makes sense that this is what we call breaking wind.
When gas builds up inside of us, it needs to be expelled.
If it is still up in the stomach, this is what would become burping. If the gas is built up into your intestines, then it comes out as a fart.
How exactly does it get there? Well, there are several ways.
While swallowing air would theoretically get it down there. A lot of the time, it is due to processes a little closer to the anus.
When food gets broken in the intestinal tract and fermented through the natural bacteria, it releases some gases that will need to be expelled somewhere.
Certain foods can increase the chances of this process happening – but there is no way to avoid it altogether.
This is something that all mammals do – whether it is a cute little baby or your cat.
You may even notice this something amongst your pets (although they aren’t too bothered by this).
But what about reptiles like snakes?
Can Snakes Fart?
Mammals are not the only creatures in the animal kingdom which break wind.
Many others join us in this experience – snakes included.
That being said, they will not fart nearly as much as we do. This is mainly due to their diet.
Animals that eat a lot of plants are known to fart more.
Diets high in plant matter require higher populations of bacteria needed to break down food; gas is usually produced as a natural by-product of this process.
This promotes farting (think of how much grass-eating cows contribute to methane).
Snakes are strict carnivores, meaning they eat other animals and nothing else intentionally.
The only type of plant-product that goes through their system is that that was accidentally swallowed with (or in the bellies of) their prey.
Even with frozen mice, it can happen.
Many snake owners report that they can see little bubbles come out from the bottom of the water when their pets let one rip for a water bath.
Do Snake Farts Smell?
Because they produce so little gas, it is hardly likely you would even notice a fart. It is not like they are a cow or a dog that could clear out a room.
Unless a snake is underwater, it’s unlikely to register as a fart at all – both in noise level and in smell.
Everyone lets one slip by accident every once in a while, but some kinds of snakes take their farts an intentional step forward.
What Is a Defensive Fart?
Reptiles have a lot of cool and unique ways to defend themselves.
Hissing and rattling are some of the telltale signs that you need to back off of a snake (just like in the growling of a dog or the hair raising and the arching of a frightened feline).
In particular, certain snakes have quite a peculiar way of defending themselves against predators- they fart.
This is not a typical thing of the snake family but is an intriguing product of evolution that is fun to learn.
When these snakes feel threatened, they force a fart that comes off as a slightly higher-pitched human fart. The point of this is to startle their predators.
These “popping sounds” last less than a fifth of a second and maybe repeated over and over again to drill in the message.
Because snakes rarely fart, you can imagine it is not easy to summon some flatulence on demand.
Instead, they get a little creative.
Their cloaca is the key to this.
Also known as cloacal pops, the intentional movement of the orifice creates these farts.
They “suck in the air” by contracting their muscles (specifically the cloacal sphincter); they can make this hole act like a suction cup.
By sucking in air and virtually everything else there, they can continue to contract and relax the muscle in a coordinated manner.
And this is how they can make this popping sounds rapidly purposely.
This behavior doesn’t take much (it just seems to be a cloaca and the associated muscle structure).
In this way, theoretically, all snakes should be able to perform these actions.
Why don’t they all do it then?
Well, there is something to be said about the lack of snake-farting research.
It is quite possible (pretty likely actually) that more than two snake species partake in this scaring tactic.
We need to do more research!
On the other hand, the lack of inclination to perform this behavior probably has some underlying biological mechanisms.
In other words, their specific DNA may be responsible for coding whether or not a snake will exhibit defensive farting.
So far, the two known species who do this are in similar geographic ranges, which we can infer have very similar evolutionary pressures.
They may have been encouraged to adopt this behavior to a similar threat they may share.
Is This Dangerous?
These popping behaviors are nothing more than a scare tactic.
Researchers believe it is meant to deter approaching threats from coming any nearer.
There is nothing toxic or hazardous about this (except for the fact you are near a snake that is not happy to see you!).
This is also an activity that would not cause any harm to the snake. It is a simple procedure with little to no risk.
At the same time, it is also an activity that demonstrates that the snake is stressed.
This is not something you should do excessively.
What Do I Do If I Notice My Snake Farting?
If you notice your snake farting, it is likely nothing to worry about at all.
This is a healthy part of their behavior!
If you notice it happening too much or your snake is exhibiting other alarming symptoms, it would be a smart idea to take them down to your local veterinarian for a checkup.
That being said, most of the time, you’re unlikely to notice them farting.
They’re not loud nor smelly.
So instead, you need to look for other signs.
The excessive gas buildup is one thing to look out for, which will appear as swollen areas of their bodies. Just make sure it is not the food that they are digesting!
Just be aware that a sick or stressed snake will be more likely to bite you, even if they usually are very friendly.
How Do Snakes Pee and Poop?
What is important to realize is that snakes only have one whole to serve for all body functions.
Snakes pee, poop, lay eggs, and fart through a single hole – the cloaca!
This orifice can be found at the end of a snake’s stomach and the beginning of its tail.
However, a snake’s excretion does vary between snake species.
Snakes consume their prey whole, yet depending on the snake species will depend on the prey (size, type, etc.). Some snakes consume mice; others prey as large as deer.
Once the food is caught, a snake will swallow it whole, whereby it will sit in the stomach and be digested.
It is here nutrients are extracted.
Poop is all of the leftover material that could not be extracted.
Some species of snakes frequently poop, such as every two days, whereas others may defecate once per week/fortnight.
It has even been known for snakes to poop once per year!
Generally, the more often a snake eats, the more frequently it will defecate.
Thus, around 10-20% of a snake’s body weight is likely fecal matter at any one time.
Snakes body weight can double during the digestion process.
The snake’s size and geographical location also determine how often a snake will pee and poop too.
Scientists have found that specific snake species will defecate to be more agile, whereas others lay dormant after feeding and therefore are slower to defecate.
It has even been hypothesized that retaining food in the stomach helps increase the snake’s size and weight and help them defend against more extensive and more formidable animals.
Only when it is not needed will it then be expelled.
Nonetheless, once the food has been digested, nutrients are extracted, and the snake no longer requires it; waste will be expelled through the anal opening – the cloaca.
Snakes are fascinating creatures that make it into the hearts of people all over the world.
These slithery reptiles are full of awe and wonder.
Besides the apparent lack of limbs and cold blood, there are many differences between snakes and your typical dog or cat.
This can be a little harder when trying to find where the common ground lies.
While there are apparent differences in how we must be kept, there is also something to be said about some of the underlying biological processes that can be a bit confusing (or downright embarrassing to ask).
Farting is one of them.
Hopefully, this article has helped you to get a better understanding of the topic in your reptile.
For the most part, this is a behavior that can occur without an owner even realizing it. Without loud noises and harsh smells, it’s difficult to tell whether a snake is even doing it.
That being said, there are species of snakes that fart to ward off predators, so we know it is possible from an anatomical perspective.
If you own a pet snake and are concerned that they are producing excessive gas; first and foremost, check their diet.
Ensure they are eating the right foods and are sufficiently hydrated.
From there, if you suspect a problem or your snake appears to be in any form of pain – always contact your vet.
Ultimately, it’s essential to know and be aware that farting in snakes is possible. It’s entirely natural, just like it is in you and me.