You may be curious to know how often snakes poop typically. Perhaps you are a prospective owner, maybe you’ve already adopted one, or may even be just interested in the topic. Either way, I would like to share with you some research in this article today.
So, how often do snakes poop? Snakes can poop as regularly as every 3 days, all the way through to several months. It varies from species to species along with the snake’s size, how much food they consume, what they have eaten, and the temperature of the snake/local environment. Generally, the smaller the snake, the more frequently they will poop.
There are approximately 3,600 known species of snakes in the world.
As such, there is no one definitive answer, and there are many factors that influence pooping frequency.
For the more common species, Bush Vipers are frequently known to poop, whereas Pythons and Boas are at the other end of the scale, pooping very infrequently.
Snake Pooping Frequency
To best understand the frequency of snake defecation, it is essential to consider the foods that they consume.
Of course, this has a significant impact on the digestion process and ultimately left to be expelled as waste.
Snakes do not require a balanced diet like most animals. They are strictly carnivorous and get all the nutrition that they need from eating other animals.
Some species of snakes will live off a diet exclusively of eggs.
Others will eat small rodents like mice or rabbits/birds.
Then some will eat insects, amphibians (frogs or toads), other reptiles, fish, earthworms, or slugs.
The environment and food supply is, of course, a significant determinant on the primary feed.
A snake’s size also influences their eating habits; juveniles might start eating small animals like snails and insects before graduating to larger animals as an adult.
It has even been known for a snake to consume a young deer!
Either way, a snake will swallow their food whole.
Snakes don’t have teeth.
Instead, they have cartilaginous protrusions on the interior edge of their spine.
Snakes have flexible lower jaws that enable them to open their mouths wide and swallow animals alive and whole.
Generally speaking, the more frequently a snake eats, the more it will excrete.
How Do Snakes Poop?
When a snake completes its meal, it will become dormant during the digestion process.
A combination of constricting stomach muscles (to crush food and push it deeper into the digestive tract) and powerful digestive enzymes and acids breaks food down for nutrients.
As you can imagine, if a snake consumed a large animal, the digestion process can be quite intense.
Massive bodies of snakes like pythons and boas can take several months to digest a meal and go on to eliminate waste.
The size of the snake, meal, and temperature has a strong influence on the digestion process.
Cold snakes can experience difficulty digesting their food.
But how do snakes poop?
When the digestion process is complete, snakes poop via an anal opening known as a cloaca, this is a Latin word that means “sewer.”
The cloaca’s location is at the end of a snake’s belly and the top of its tail.
It may come as no surprise to find out that the poop is the same width as the serpent’s body.
This opening is multi-functioning as it is not only to expel waste but also to urinate, copulate, and lay eggs.
Fascinatingly, some snakes, like the Gaboon viper, hold on to their feces. The weight anchors it during attacks on more substantial animals.
If the snake feels burdened by the extra weight, they can dispel the poop there and then.
How Do You Identify Snake Droppings?
It can be challenging to distinguish the feces of snakes from other carnivorous eating animals, predominantly brown and tubular.
Snake droppings comprise three parts- liquid/urine, brown/tubular, and irregular-shaped balls of chalky white or yellow.
As the digestive tract of a serpent is a long straight tube, its feces are nearly the size of the animal it consumed.
Usually, no animal fur or bones are present in the droppings as snakes can digest those.
When the feces are tubular and tapered at the tips, they can come in one whole piece or be broken into several sections.
Giant snakes like constrictors can expel wastes larger than dogs; whereas, small snakes can remove tiny feces measuring less than half an inch.
The most significant tell-tale sign that droppings belong to a snake is if urates accompany feces. Urates are only present in the dropping of reptiles this includes turtles and lizards.
Urates are pale yellow to white and differ in texture. Some urates are pasty when fresh but can also resemble white chalky rocks.
In these droppings, parts of the animal might be visible. Urates are dehydrated urine and occur as a byproduct of the metabolic breakdown of protein.
Snakes defecate anywhere they go. So as a snake owner, look out for it across the vivarium/terrarium.
If you are looking for wild snakes, check the overgrown areas in your garden or yard and around wood or rock piles.
The sides of buildings are also a favorable pooping ground for snakes.
Be careful when looking for signs of snakes. You may find other signs of their presence in loose substrates, such as shed skin or sand.
If you find a snake in and around your property, do not attempt to catch it yourself; call a professional to take care of it.
How Do You Know If A Snake Is Constipated?
If you have a pet snake that hasn’t pooped in several weeks, naturally, you may be concerned if your serpent has constipation or impaction.
First and foremost, you need to consider the species of snake that you own.
It’s essential to conduct some research into your specific species.
Generally, the more giant the snake and the larger the food it consumes, the less regularly the snake will poop.
Below is a rough guide on some of the some of the common snake species and how often they are likely to poop:
|Snake Species||Healthy Pooping Frequency|
|Bush Vipers||3-7 Days|
|Rat Snake||2 Days|
So as you can see, there is quite a variance between the species. These are just estimations, and it does depend on the individual snake’s diet, environment, size, and age.
Importantly, it is not so much frequency, but other signs to look out for that could indicate constipation.
If your snake has constipation or impaction, it may display the following symptoms:
- Absence of a bowel movement for many weeks
- Pain and discomfort, which may cause behavioral anomalies
- Loss of appetite
- Irritable when handled
- A bruise in the abdomen is blue in appearance (only visible in snakes with lighter skin).
If you are concerned and unsure, a vet that specializes in snakes will be able to determine if your snake is constipated.
Understandably, it’s good to know the causes of constipation in snakes. This will help to prevent it from occurring.
Let’s look at four possible reasons:
Overfeeding can lead to obesity in snakes, which, in turn, reduces the movement of the colon.
Obesity doesn’t reduce the capacity to absorb water from feces and urates.
Urates are dehydrated urine that hardens in the snake’s body, and as snakes have only one opening for urine and feces, this can result in constipation.
Many snakes will continue eating when constipated, but this can make your pet very ill. Parasitic infection and partial paralysis can also result in constipation.
If you feed thawed from frozen food, this can cause constipation. Frozen meat has less water present than when fresh or alive.
While reptiles derive most of their water from their diet, frozen food cannot provide harder and drier feces.
Hard feces are called fecal stones and can obstruct the passage of poop out of the serpent’s body.
You must ensure that your pet snake has enough water to drink.
Humidity Levels and Low Temperature
If a snake’s environment is cooler than what is required, your snake will conserve warmer temperatures in its core to perform internal functions.
A spike in internal temperatures can dry out the feces, making it harden inside the snake’s body.
Low humidity can also dry out the feces, preventing it from a smooth release.
Impaction takes place when a snake ingests specific substrates.
This includes sand, gravel, and shavings.
A snake would struggle to digest these foreign non-meaty objects and cause obstructed feces.
We now know that quite a few factors come into play before providing a direct answer to your question and how often snakes poop.
Size, type, age, diet, and food frequency will all be determining factors.
Most pet snakes are light-bodied; this is one reason these snakes are pets, to begin with. These smaller snakes generally defecate at least once a week.
This is crucial information, as it helps you to know what to expect and can help you watch out for constipation or impaction with your pet.
If your snake hasn’t pooped in a while or signs that something could be wrong, make sure that you take your snake to the vet immediately.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.