Wondering about snake poop? This guide is for you!
Familiarizing yourself with your snake’s poop uniquely positions you to understand your pet’s health.
Although it may not sound fascinating to examine your snake’s poop, you must do it constantly for your pet’s wellbeing.
A typical snake poop is made up of two distinct parts. First, there’s the dark brown or black section with a white, chalk-like tip. This first section is the solid excrement. The second is softer and composed of the urates – the reptilian version of pee.
Also, a good number of snakes excrete fluid together with the poop.
What Does Healthy Snake Poop Look Like?
Snakes pass out their excrement through an orifice known as a vent or cloaca. This opening passes out both poop and urates. It also serves as your snake’s reproductive organ.
This is a departure from the egestion channels used by most other plants. For example, mammals have an anus and urethra for the poop and urine, respectively.
There isn’t much difference between snake and lizard poop. This is understandable, considering both animals are reptiles that feed on more or less the same kind of stuff.
Of course, there are many things that either reptile eats that the other cannot touch. But their digestive systems are basically structured in the same way.
A healthy snake poop comprises two distinct parts: the dark or black poop and the white urates at the tip.
At times, the urates are not attached to the sold poop but are deposited separately, just next to the solid mass.
It’s also not uncommon for snakes to pass out mucus or fluids with poop.
Sometimes, you can tell what a snake had for dinner by looking at the excrement. You’ll see remnants of nails, fur, teeth, and other animal parts.
Fully digested food cannot be seen in the poop. However, you can tell the poop is healthy because of its dark color and chalk-white tip.
Unhealthy snake poop is presented in color as a sign that something is off in the digestive system.
How Often Should My Snake Poop?
How often your snake poops depends on the feeding frequency. For example, if the snake eats once a week, it should go to the toilet once a week.
A snake that is fed once a month should defecate once monthly. A snake that passes stool too frequently between meals is likely sick, and measures should be taken to save it.
A major cause of frequent defecation in snakes is diarrhea.
You need to look into the cause of the diarrhea and resolve it as soon as possible.
Additionally, how often your snake poops depends on its size. Huge snakes eat big meals and can stay for long without the need to poop.
On the other hand, smaller snakes have a higher metabolic rate. This means they feed more often and are likely to poop more frequently.
In the same way, younger snakes feed and poop more frequently than adults. It boils down to the rate of metabolism.
The younger and more compact the animal, the higher the metabolic rate, and the greater the need to feed frequently.
Older snake pets eat heavier meals; their feeding needs are less frequent, and so is the need to pass stool.
Snakes Breeds Comparison: Frequency of Feeding and Pooping
|Snake Breed||Feeding Frequency||Pooping Frequency (Days after Eating)|
|Garter Snake||Every 1-2 days||3-5 days|
|Rough Green Snake||Every 2-3 days||4-6 days|
|Milk Snake||Every 5-7 days||5-8 days|
|Rat Snake||3 times a month||2-3 days|
|Boa Constrictor||3 times a month||7-10 days|
|Ball Python||2 or 3 times a month||4-7 days|
|Corn Snake||2 or 3 times a month||5-7 days|
|King Snake||2 times a month||5-8 days|
|Hognose Snake||2 times a month||3-5 days|
What’s the Difference Between Snake Poop and Regurgitation?
If you found a lump of waste in your snake’s enclosure, how would you tell if it’s poop or regurgitation?
Poop is usually more digested than regurgitated food. If you find whole pieces of the prey your snake had eaten, it’s more likely that waste is regurgitated food.
Your snake may regurgitate food when feeling unwell. However, their inability to hold down food tells you the reptile should be taken to the vet as a matter of urgency.
Also, your pet may regurgitate food to signify stress. Perhaps you handled the snake after it had just eaten its meal, which made it quite uncomfortable.
Any form of discomfort in snakes causes a spike in stress levels. This is not good for your pet and may regurgitate if it is on a full stomach.
To keep your snake from regurgitating, you need to handle him with care. This makes a lot of sense, considering that the highest cause of regurgitation is poor handling.
Practice good snake husbandry by creating an appropriate environment for your snake breed. For example, the temperature and humidity should not be too high or too low.
Snakes in unfavorable environments are unable to carry out their biological functions effectively. This means these snakes will find it hard to digest food fully.
Evolution has taught reptiles that undigested food cannot be left to lie in the stomach. It may rot and attract parasites and attendant infections.
Your snake reacts to this by churning out the food as regurgitation.
To keep this pet happy and healthy, treat it right. Take care of your snake to prevent it from being overcome by stressors.
Why Doesn’t My Snake Poop?
As noted earlier, your snake’s poop can tell you a lot about your snake’s health. Therefore, you need to study your snake’s pooping routine to know when it deviates from the expected.
You should be concerned if you find that your snake is not pooping. This could mean the same thing as the pet pooping negligible amounts of excrement.
Also, something is clearly wrong if the snake keeps popping in bits for an extended period. This is your cue to make the earliest possible appointment with your pet’s doctor.
So, what would make your snake retain poop?
#1 – It Needs More Time to Digest Food
Unlike humans, snakes do not take a meal and get the urge to visit the toilet after a few hours. As a result, your snake can take up to a month before popping after a meal.
This indicates that the food is being digested, and your snake needs time to complete the process.
Of course, how often your snake digests foo before pooping depends on its age, size, and health status.
It also depends on the size and meal the reptile took.
What to do:
Don’t be overly concerned if your snake is still digesting food. Instead, make enough water available for your pet snake, as it may need this to assist in the digestive process.
Also, handle your snakes gently during this time not to cause them to regurgitate.
#2 – It Suffers from Constipation
If the environmental conditions in the enclosure are not right, your snakes may experience constipation.
For example, exposing this reptile to high temperatures and extremely low humidity deprives it of body fluids.
As such, the snake lacks the fluids necessary for smooth digestion. You’ll realize this when you notice your pet struggling to poop.
Additionally, ensure that the enclosure is not too cold. Since the snake depends on external heat sources to carry out its functions, a cold environment is counterproductive.
Your snake may not be able to digest food properly.
Another cause of constipation is poor feeding. For example, subjecting your pet to frozen-thawed food makes it hard for this reptile to pass stool.
Give your snake pet ample water and fluid to avoid constipation. Hydrating your snake properly is good for its overall health and happiness.
What to do:
- Act speedily so that constipation does not lead to impaction
- Soak your leopard gecko in warm water for 20 to 30 minutes while gently rubbing its belly. Ensure that the water is only lukewarm and not hot.
- Avoid giving the snake home medicine unless with the approval of your vet. Your vet will decide whether the solution you have in mind is safe for the reptile. Snakes have been known to die following botched home medication.
- Allow your vet to examine the snake for the presence of parasites. For example, your snake pet could be constipated due to a parasitic attack. These parasites build up in the intestines and hold up the movement of food and stool.
- Ensure that all the environmental factors are correctly adjusted. For example, check on the lighting, temperature, and humidity.
- Take a keen interest in what this reptile feeds on. Could it be that its source of nutrition is dry foods only? If so, this could be the genesis of the problem.
#3 – Your Snake Suffers from Impaction
Impaction is one of the most dreaded problems among snake keepers. Your snake pet suffers from this condition when it has swallowed someone that can’t be digested.
The foreign object may also be too big or cumbersome to pass through the intestines. As it sits there, neither moving forwards nor backward, it presents a significant disaster in waiting.
Your snake cannot take in any food or even pass stool. This condition is so severe that if action is not taken soon, it leads to death.
In the more severe cases, impaction is solved by surgery, in which a vet removes the foreign body from the animal.
Impaction may make the snake pass bloody or colored fluid as it struggles to pass stool. If you’ve had your snake for some time and know it well, you can’t miss this problem if it hits.
Signs to look out for include the inability to pass stool for weeks and loss of appetite. The snake eats very little, if any, and will likely regurgitate the food.
Your snake becomes weak and lethargic relatively fast because it can’t get the nutrition it needs to run its life.
Also, the body may look bloated and oddly distended. Closely examine the cloaca to see whether there’s a swelling common with animals suffering from this condition.
What to do:
Impaction is usually severe and sometimes best handled by an expert vet. This medical expert will determine the best course of action after a thorough examination.
An x-ray scan pinpoints the position of the foreign body, paving the way for interventions to be applied.
Should these interventions fail, the vet may have to perform a surgical operation to save your pet’s life.
If you discover this problem early enough and seek timely intervention, chances are your snake will sail through alive.
#4 – Your Snake is About to Shed
Snakes molt their skins as they grow older. Therefore, shedding is not a one-time affair; it happens every time the snake grows too big for the old skin.
Such a significant event in their lives is likely to cause major changes and disrupt some body functions.
Like most reptiles, snakes fast for a few days or weeks before shedding. This means you shouldn’t expect them to have much poop during this period.
The smaller snakes will resume pooping much faster than their older counterparts for a number of reasons.
For example, the skin of young snakes is more elastic, and they are likely to experience a smoother shedding period.
At the same time, younger snakes get hungry faster and more intensely because of their higher metabolism rate.
You can tell your snake is about to shed by observing the following signs:
- Loss of appetite
- Doesn’t eat
- Eyes go cloudy and change color
- They spend more time in the water
- The skin looks dull, faded, and old
- They show a preference for the cooler section of the enclosure
- They loosen their skin by running themselves against rough surfaces
- They don’t poop for some time
What to do:
Create a good atmosphere for your snake to shed effortlessly. This includes checking on the temperature and humidity levels.
Be sure that the snake is about to shed. Eliminate other reasons your pet won’t poop. For example, examine the cloaca to see whether there’s any swelling.
Such swelling points to impaction.
Supply your snake pet with enough water for drinking and bathing. In addition, this reptile needs to be well-hydrated during shedding.
#5 – It’s Time for Brumation
The reason your snake pet is not pooping could be because it’s about to start brumation. This is a period some cold-blooded animals suspend most of the activities in the body to conserve energy.
This happens during the cold season in the temperate regions of the world. As a result, these animals stay alive and outlive the cold months by reducing their internal and external activities.
Although snakes in captivity are provided with artificial heat sources, some still go through brumation.
These include garter snakes, milk snakes, and corn snakes. If you keep a snake that is originally from temperate regions, chances are that it will brumate.
During this period, your snake may show little or no interest in food.
It survives on the occasional lap of water and zero activity, choosing to while away the hours and days sleeping.
You mustn’t force or encourage your snake to eat during brumation. This is because food eaten at this time is not digested.
Instead, it sits in the stomach and the intestines, where it slowly rots, attracting unwanted bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Since the digestive system is temporarily shut down, food that gets into the stomach soon turns toxic.
What to do:
Ensure that your snake is in good health during the months leading to brumation. Take care of the dietary and environmental conditions this reptile needs to lead a happy, healthy life.
Most importantly, make available an adequate supply of drinking and bathing water. Your pet needs to be supple and as well-hydrated as it goes into a long “sleep” period.
Avoid handling this animal once brumation starts. Some species of snakes are highly irritable around this time.
Keep your distance, but constantly monitor how your pal is doing. Ensure that all conditions in the enclosure make life easier for your snake during this period.
At the same time, ask the vet’s opinion concerning your snake’s health. They will tell you exactly how to handle this animal at this delicate time of its life.
The vet ensures the pet is free of infections before the process begins. This is important, considering that the snake can easily lose its life if it gets infected when its defenses are low.
If you’re doing this for the first time, don’t panic. You’ll soon get the hang of handling your snake pet during brumation.
Why Does My Pet Have Diarrhea?
Severe diarrhea is a killer. This condition forces your snake pet to lose so much fluid that it can no longer perform bodily functions.
Act quickly to contact your snake’s doctor when you notice any signs of diarrhea. The vet’s intervention will stem diarrhea as the real cause of this problem is investigated.
Diarrhea in snakes and other reptiles signifies multiple health disorders. This condition is evident when a number of internal systems have failed or are at risk of failing.
To arrest this problem before it gets too big, you need to know the signs to look out for. These include:
- Loose, foul-smelling stool
- Watery poop
- Lethargy and general weakness
- Cloudy or glazed eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to retain food
- Uncontrolled pooping between meals
What Causes Diarrhea in Snakes?
The most notorious culprits are coccidia and worms that breed in unhygienic conditions. That’s why you need to regularly and thoroughly clean your pet’s tank and rid it of all parasites.
Also, be on the lookout for ticks and mites, as they are notorious disease spreaders.
Your pet snake’s immunity is compromised if it does not get adequate food. Malnutrition and diseases walk hand in hand.
Provide your snake with enough minerals, proteins, fats, and vitamins to avoid opportunistic infections.
Dirty Living Conditions
A dirty snake enclosure is a recipe for diseases and health complications. Germs breed silently in the dirt, and you’ll realize only when it’s too late that your snake pet is no longer safe.
Poor Temperature and Humidity
Ensure that your snake’s tank is well set as you bring in this pet from the very beginning.
Be very particular about the temperature and humidity levels in the enclosure, as your pet’s health and strength depend on these.
It is a good idea to install a hygrometer and thermometer to monitor humidity and temperature constantly.
Remember, different snake breeds have varied requirements. Acquaint yourself with what’s best for your snake and have it ready in the enclosure.
What to Do to Save Your Snake from Diarrhea
As noted earlier, diarrhea is a deadly problem if it goes untreated. This means you need to take quick action as soon as you suspect your pet has this challenge.
Contact the vet and let them know what’s happening. The vet will probably ask you to go to the clinic with the snake and a sample of its stool.
Handle the stool with care not to contaminate yourself, other pets, and the enclosure. It’s advisable that you carry the poop in a sealable airtight plastic bag.
Seal it shut not to cause any spillages on the way to the vets.
Your snake’s doctor may decide to keep it for a day or two to observe how it responds to treatment.
Also, you will be advised on the best way to clean the tank and dispose of anything the snake has come into contact with.
What Does Unhealthy Snake Poop Look Like?
A reliable way of telling your snake is ill is by looking at the color and texture of its poop. We’ve already covered what loose, runny, and water poop indicates.
White, green, yellow, and red snake poop indicates something is not right with your pet. Know that all is not well when you see your gecko-producing strange-colored poop.
White Snake Poop Meaning
It’s okay for snake poop to have some bits of white, because this represents the pee equivalent of reptiles.
Ordinarily, urates appear at the tail end of the solid poop. However, it is not uncommon to see the urates separated from the main poop.
Sometimes, the white urates appear yellow, which is nothing to worry about.
However, you should take notice when the solid poop is delivered white. This is a sign of bacterial infection. It tells you that your snake needs the intervention of your vet.
Your vet may request a sample of the white poop to make a more informed diagnosis. Usually, this turns out to be a case of a parasitic attack that can be sorted by a short-term dose of antibiotics.
Your pet snake may also excrete white poop if it has eaten food rich in calcium. This is not something to be overly concerned about, as the right balance will be re-established with a diet change.
What to Do:
If the white poop from your snake is not part of the urates, you need to find out what the reptile last ate.
Likely, your pet indulged in a high-calcium diet.
Don’t do much after seeing the first poop. Instead, wait for the subsequent ones to see if there are any changes.
If this persists or you see other worrying signs, take a sample of the white poop to the vet for analysis.
Green Snake Poop Meaning
Your snake may have a tinge of green on its poop in cold weather. If you see this and it soon disappears, it’s nothing much to be worried about.
However, if the entire poop is consistently dark green or light green, this indicates trouble. It shows that your snake’s liver has been compromised, and immediate medical attention is required.
What to Do:
Don’t lose sleep over the slight tinge of green you may notice in your snake’s poop in cold weather. This is a normal occurrence most evident at the onset of the cold season.
However, urgently contact your vet when your snake’s poop or urates is deep green. This signifies severe infection in the liver.
Your vet will want to see a sample of this poop to run it through a few tests.
Yellow Snake Poop Meaning
This is not a big issue, as it only indicates that your snake has changed its diet. Given time, your pet will go back to pooping normal stool.
From a health and nutritional point of view, this is not something to be scared about.
What to do:
You need to see a vet if your snake continues producing yellow poop even after different meals.
It could be that something more than meets the eye is happening. Allow your vet to examine your snake for parasites, injuries, or illnesses.
Red Snake Poop Meaning
Black or dark red blood indicates your leopard gecko consumed prey rich in blood.
However, if the poop is bright red or spotted by bright red blood, your animal has some internal injuries.
Move with speed and have the vet attend to this reptile. The vet may prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the problem
, depending on the diagnosis.
Your snake pet may undergo a life-saving surgical procedure if the problem is severe.
What to Do:
Seeing red poop could be a pointer to a raft of things about your snake. For example, it could signify your pet is suffering from impaction.
You can offer first aid at home by giving your pet a warm bath and gently rubbing his belly. However, don’t hesitate to contact your vet if this does not dislodge the foreign body in the stomach or intestines.
Red poop could also be a pointer to internal injuries. But, again, this is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate intervention from an expert vet.
The vet will examine the snake and the red poop sample to determine the best way forward.
Can My Snake Poop Bones?
Yes, your snake can poop pieces of bones, nails, teeth, and fur of the dead prey. However, you may not always see these items because your snake’s stomach can digest them fully.
Once in a way, some of this material passes through the digestive tract untouched. This should not worry you if all the other indicators point to a healthy snake.
If your snake poops too many pieces of bones, something is not working right in the digestive tract.
You may also realize that it regurgitates most of its food. Again, see a vet for advice on the proper steps to take.
How Can I Ensure My Snake Has Healthy Poop?
Prevent the Snake from Eating Substrate
Malnourished or neglected snakes often turn to their substrates to compensate for the minerals they lack.
When you see your snake trying to do this, know there’s something amiss with his dietary needs. But first, you need to review your feeding schedule to find out what is missing.
If you are new to keeping snakes, don’t hesitate to ask for advice from more experienced keepers.
Also, you should create a good relationship with your vet because this is one person you’ll be consulting a lot.
With time, you’ll discover that your snake has unhealthy poop when his living conditions are not right. For example, maybe you have not been very keen on the quality of his diet.
By taking care of this aspect of your pet’s life, you’ll dissuade him from taking an abnormal interest in the substrate.
Soak Food in Warm Water
Your snake may be too cold to meaningfully digest the food it consumes.
For example, if this reptile has been on a diet of frozen-thawed prey, it requires an external heat source to convert the food into energy.
Without this, the snake will not be able to pass stool normally. Therefore, you may have to soak the prey in warm water before feeding it to your pet.
Smaller Prey for Your Snake
Your snake’s poop could be unhealthy because of constipation or impaction caused by swallowing big prey.
Feeding your snake large prey may also cause the problem of regurgitating. As such, you may want to consider providing the reptile smaller prey.
You should be particularly careful not to feed a young snake large prey.
Hydrate Your Snake Adequately
One of the reasons your snake may have poop problems is because of a lack of clean water. Water plays an essential role in your pet’s digestive system.
This is your cue to ensure that fresh, clean water is always available in the enclosure. This will prevent common problems that lead to unhealthy poop, such as constipation and impaction.
The feces get too dry without adequate moisture, and your snake has problems passing them.
Regulate Temperature and Humidity in the Tank
Like all cold-blooded animals, snakes need an external heat source to function.
Your snake cannot digest its food and do other bodily functions well unless you help it keep its body temperature at an optimal level.
Without proper temperature regulation, the food eaten by your snake will start to go bad in the stomach.
This will likely attract parasites and lead to sepsis and other complications, which can be seen in the quality and frequency of poop.
Before purchasing a pet snake, understand all there is about its particular breed. This should give you a good idea about its habitat requirements in the enclosure.
Ensure that you provide the right temperature and humidity gradients. These play a crucial role in your pet’s overall health and wellbeing.
It would be a good idea to keep a thermometer and a hygrometer handy to monitor the temperature and humidity levels in the tank closely.
When to Take Your Snake to See the Vet About Poop
It’s a good idea to have your vet on speed dial to consult him whenever you see anything abnormal with your pet.
Keep a close eye on your snake’s pooping routine not to miss any problem your pet may encounter. Take your pet to the vet whenever you see abnormalities in your snake’s stool.
For example, if the poop becomes watery or runny, a case of diarrhea is suspected. You need to see the vet immediately for the correct diagnosis and medications.
The vet will also advise you on the right snake husbandry practices to apply to avoid a recurrence.
Also, don’t hesitate to contact your vet if your snake’s poop changes color. As noted earlier, healthy snake poop is either dark-brown or black, with a white-off tip of urates.
A significant color change warrants a visit to the vet. You’ll realize that not all color changes in your snake’s poop indicate danger.
Nonetheless, don’t take anything for granted. When it comes to keeping and nurturing snakes and other pets, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Ask your vet to examine the snake if you suspect it is impacted or constipated. These problems are sometimes solved by a good water supply and warm belly massages.
In the more severe cases, the vet may have to conduct surgery. The earlier the problem is arrested, the better for everyone involved.
Your pet snake depends on you for everything for as long as it is under your care. As such, you need to know this animal inside out to effectively cater to its need.
Acquaint yourself with your snake’s bowel movement to quickly intervene should something go wrong.
Your snake’s poop is a treasure trove of information about this reptile’s digestive system and health.
Keeping watch over your snake’s poop may not be a glamorous preoccupation. But it can be a lifesaver!