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How Do Snakes Poop and Pee? What You Need To Know!

Kristin Hitchcock

Snakes get rid of their waste similarly to most other animals. Once everything has been digested, the waste passes through an opening near the end of their tail, called the cloaca. Both the feces and ammonia acid come out in a solid state.

Snakes don’t really “pee” in the same way that other animals do. However, they do produce ammonia like any other animal — it just comes out solid.

A snake’s digestive process varies somewhat from species to species. Much of a snake’s meal is likely to be indigestible and turn into feces. However, since snakes eat such large animals in comparison to their body weight, as much as half of their body weight may be feces at any one time.

Snakes also don’t eliminate as often as most animals.  Many snakes can go a long time without eating. As you might expect, snakes that don’t eat much usually won’t defecate much either. If there is nothing to digest, there is nothing to come out.

Snakes only have one opening at the end of their tail, so they use it to defecate, mate, and lay eggs. It’s multi-purpose!divider-reptile

Do Reptiles Poop?

cottonmouth snake
Image Credit: Piqsels

In general, all reptiles pass feces. However, it doesn’t look exactly like you might expect. All waste gets compressed into the same feces, including the ammonia that mammals typically expel as urine.

Usually, a snake’s stool has two distinctive parts: a yellowish-white part comprised mostly of ammonia and a brown or black part that is mostly undigested hair and similar materials.

Birds produce similar waste, likely because they are so closely related to reptiles. Snakes produce similar excrement to other reptiles, so you will usually notice the two different parts.

How Often Do Snakes Poop?

It mostly depends on the species and what the snake eats. Feces will be produced after the animal has been digested. How often a snake needs to eat varies, so how often a snake defecates also varies.

Some snakes will need to go shortly after they eat, while others potentially won’t go for months. It also depends on how active the snake is. Those that move more usually have faster digestive systems, which means that whatever they ate will end up becoming feces faster.

Whatever the snake eats always comes out all at once, and snakes typically don’t eat again until it does. Therefore, how often a snake eats will give you an accurate estimate of the amount of feces that it will leave behind.

Younger snakes tend to eat more frequently than older ones because they have to fund their fast growth. Therefore, they will probably poop more frequently as well.

Do Snakes Pee?

Western Black-necked garter snake_Luis Mac_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Luis Mac, Shutterstock

Yes and no. They have one opening that they use for everything and all the waste gets passed at the same time. Much of the ammonia will be a solid as well, so there usually isn’t as much liquid as you’d expect. Therefore, snakes don’t really urinate.

The amount of liquid they pass will largely depend on how often your snake drinks water. This varies depending on the species and age of the snake.

If a snake eats often, they may get enough moisture from the animals that they consume. Therefore, much of their liquid waste will be released at the same time as the solid stuff. It may appear that your snake doesn’t urinate at all in these situations.

On the other hand, some snakes go long times between meals and need to drink plenty of water. These snakes may pass waste that is just liquid.

Can Snakes Get Constipated?

Occasionally, yes. This can happen for various reasons.

If a snake’s meal is too large, they may be unable to digest it correctly. It could get stuck halfway down, which would be similar to constipation. This isn’t exactly the same constipation that mammals experience — it’s more like a blockage.

However, the waste from the animal may also get stuck, which can be similar to constipation.

For whatever reason, the meal could take too long to digest. In some cases, this can make the feces dry and more difficult to pass.

Dehydrated snakes will have similar issues. If the stool isn’t wet enough, they will be unable to pass it.

For wild snakes, all these issues can be potentially fatal. There is no way for the snake to rectify the situation. In many cases, they just have to wait for their body to figure it out, if it can.

However, if the blockage continues, then the snake will be unable to eat and will eventually perish. After all, they can’t absorb any more nutrients if their digestive tract stays full. In some cases, the dead animal can even start decaying in their digestive tract, leading to a relatively quick death for the snake.

In captivity, the odds are a bit better. Owners can offer their snake all sorts of treatment. Lukewarm baths often help for many snakes, as it helps everything warm up and get moving. Medications are available in some cases.

Impacted eggs and some blockages may require surgery from a qualified vet. However, this option is available only to our captive friends. Those in the wild often aren’t so lucky!

Regurgitation and Feces

western worm snake
Image Credit: Matt Jeppson, Shutterstock

While we have talked about snake feces specifically in this article, there is another function that is worth discussing: regurgitation.

This is a bit different in snakes than people, as snakes regurgitate out of their backends. In other words, it can seem like feces but it isn’t.

Usually, snakes regurgitate their meal much faster than it takes for them to digest it. If a snake passes the prey within a day or two, they likely didn’t process the nutrients from the meal.

Regurgitation can occur for various reasons. Sometimes, the snake was handled too soon after they ate. Most snakes are designed to lie around for a bit after each meal. If they move too much, their digestive tract can start moving a bit too quickly. Food items that are too large or inappropriate may also be pushed through quickly.

It’s the body’s way of helping ensure that the food isn’t going to get stuck. Low temperatures or other environmental factors can also cause problems.

Telling the difference between feces and a regurgitated meal can be difficult.

Here are a few tips to help you figure it out:
  • Time since the meal: If it’s only been a day or two, it is probably regurgitation. Of course, you can compare it to your snake’s normal time between a meal and defecation.
  • Regurgitation of the last meal: A snake that regurgitates their meal once is much more likely to do it again. This is a sign that something is wrong, and you’ll likely keep running into problems unless something is changed.
  • Mucous: A large amount of mucous is a sign of a problem. Either it is regurgitation or your snake is sick. Both require vet care and changes to your snake’s routine.
divider-reptile

Conclusion

Snakes do poop, though they do it slightly differently than mammals. They have one opening that they use for everything, including poop and pee. Often, all their waste is released at the same time, so it may appear like they don’t urinate.

Snakes poop far less than most other animals. They will pass all of a meal at once, so their regularity often depends on how much they eat. Young snakes usually eat more, so they will often produce more waste.

There is little reason to worry if your snake hasn’t pooped in a while. This is often normal.

However, constipation is possible. Some snakes end up with a stuck meal in their digestive tract, which may count as either a blockage or constipation. Be sure to keep up with your snake’s bowel movements. If they have a blockage, you’ll want to notice it as quickly as possible.


Featured Image Credit: reptiles4all, Shutterstock

Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!