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Do Snakes Fart?

Oliver Jones

Snakes are extremely popular in the United States, especially the colorful Ball Python with all its morphs. Snakes have all kinds of strange behaviors that many people didn’t realize before they purchased their pet, and the one that often surprises people the most is when they see their snake farting. Snakes do fart, but it is quite rare, so keep reading while we look at what causes this behavior, as well as if it’s a sign of a medical problem, to help you stay better informed about your pet.

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Why Do Snakes Fart?

Racer Snake_Hwall_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Hwall, Shutterstock

Snake farting is not common because they are strict carnivores, and most of the gas that we humans experience comes from consuming vegetable material. Snakes don’t even have the gut bacteria to break down plants to cause the gas. Another way snakes are different from humans is that they do not have an anus and instead use their cloaca to expel waste. This cloaca also emits a toxic musk that drives away predators and houses the sex organs for both males and females. It also allows the female to lay her eggs or birth live snakes depending on its species.

When snakes do fart, it usually doesn’t make any noise and shouldn’t produce an odor.

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Is Farting a Sign of a Medical Condition?

California King Snake
Image Credit: makindle55, Pixabay

Since farting is not a common behavior, if you notice your pet farting frequently, it could be a sign of a medical problem. Frequent farting can be a sign of a medical condition, particularly if it has a bad odor. Bacteria and parasites can enter the intestines, especially if you feed your snake wild-caught food that can lead to your snake passing gas. In most cases, it will pass quickly, but if you still see frequent farting after a few days, we recommend taking your pet to the vet to have it looked over by a professional. We also recommend feeding your snake only captive-bred mice and rats to minimize the risk of infection.

Other Reasons Your Snake Might Be Farting

Brumation

If the snake enters brumation too soon after eating, the food will remain in its digesting tract while it hibernates. We usually keep our snakes active year-round, so it usually isn’t an issue, but it is a common problem for inexperienced breeders who need to allow the snake to brumate before mating.

Self-Cleaning

Finally, the most common reason your snake farts is that it got a piece of debris, often a grain of sand, into its cloaca, and it’s attempting to blow it out. When your snake is trying to clean its cloaca, you will usually notice it open its mouth to draw in air, and its body will swell briefly before it pushes air out the cloaca. If the snake is sitting in a loose substrate, like sand, you can usually see a cloud form from the pressure. If you would like to see an example of what it looks like when a snake farts, you can watch this short video from Caters Clips.

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Summary

If you feed your captive snake only captive-bred rats and mice, your snake will only fart when it needs to clean out its cloaca, which is not very often but definitely observable if you spend a lot of time with your snake. If you fed your pet some wild-caught food and noticed it farting, it likely has a touch of indigestion that should only last a few days. However, if you notice your pet farting for several days, it’s best to take it to the vet to rule out any serious problems.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide and found the answers to your questions. If we helped you learn something new about your pet, please share our look into if snakes fart on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image Credit: Deb Davis, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.