Snakes digest food pretty much like everything else does, but with one small exception. Snakes poop and pee out of the same hole like a bird. This opening is the cloaca, located at the base of the snake’s tail. Since snakes excrete both solid and liquid waste from the same place their poop can look a little slimy.
How do snakes poop
Snakes tend to eat very infrequently compared to most mammals. Some larger snakes can go months without eating depending on the size of their last meal. They also will evacuate solid waste less frequently as well. A snake’s gastrointestinal tract forces the feces out of the body.
They do not have to posture like a dog or cat normally do. They will usually either sit still while defecating or they will slowly move their tails back and forth.
How often do snakes poop?
Most snakes take a few days to digest a meal. If you fed on a Monday, then it would be perfectly normal not to see any fecal matter until Thursday or even Friday. Snakes are ectothermic.
This means they do not regulate their own body temperature internally as mammals do, so it is important to keep them at a temperature suitable for their specific species. Heat bulbs are a perfect way to accomplish this. If the ambient temperature is too cold, then a snake’s metabolism will slow down.
When this happens, your snake may not poop at all, and may even stop feeding. If you are worried that your snake is not pooping normally check the temperature of its enclosure and increase the temperature a few degrees. This will warm your snake up some and increase its metabolism making it poop more frequently.
If you are worried that your snake is not pooping enough, take them to your regular exotic veterinarian. They will take radiographs of your snake to make sure that there is no impaction. Snakes housed on sand are very prone to impactions. Warm water soaks help increase gastric motility and help your snake poop.
What does snake poop look like?
Snake poop looks like most other animals as far as size and shape go. It can look slimier than most since it exits the body with urine. There can be white flecks throughout or have a white cap on the end. These white spots are urea caps. Urea is waste produced by the snake’s kidneys. It is the snake’s urine, but in a more solid form than mammals. Snake poop may even contain fur especially if they are eating mice and rats.
Does snake poop smell?
Snake poop can smell extremely foul. They eat a protein-rich diet which tends to be more rancid than animals who are herbivores. With good husbandry and cage cleaning habits most, people don’t notice much odor at all. Fecal matter can build up in the cage, and if not cleaned routinely, will be more noticeable.
Regular fecal matter should not be confused with snake musk. Musk comes from a cloacal scent gland and usually accompanied by urine and poop to create an extremely foul odor. Overhandling and stress are triggers for snakes to release musk, and it can be very difficult to wash off the odor.
What to do if my snake’s poop is not normal?
If your snake’s poop isn’t normal it is best to have them examined by an exotic veterinarian. You should bring a fresh sample to your snakes’ appointment for testing. It can be very difficult for a veterinarian to get a sample from your snake, so it is recommended to wait until you can get one at home.
The veterinarian will examine the feces under a microscope for parasites. If your veterinarian finds any parasites, then your veterinarian will administer your snake the appropriate de-wormer based on what parasites where present. Most snakes eat mice or rats that may be infected with parasites.
So routine visits to your veterinarian are a good idea to help keep your pet healthy. Since snakes do not poop frequently getting a fresh poop is not possible. In this case, prophylactic deworming is done to deal with any potential parasites. Just as a reminder you should always practice good hand washing after handling any reptile.
Parasites found in snake poop
There is a whole myriad of parasites that veterinarians find in snake feces just by looking through a microscope. The most common parasites found in snakes are worms. Roundworms, hookworms, and pinworms are some of the most common. A slightly different variation of the same worm from each of those species are found in mammals.
But no matter what species host them, they always reside in the digestive tract in some shape or form. So common symptoms of parasite infection include, lose or runny stool, the stool should have some shape not be runny. In more severe cases, your snake stool may be bloody.
Lack of appetite is also a sign of possible parasite infection. Amoebas, protozoans such as coccidia, and flagellates are also common parasites. They are microscopic parasites that make snakes feel pretty bad. Sometimes they can even be more difficult to treat and may necessitate several deworming and antibiotics. Most treatments are typically successful within a few weeks.
Snakes poop Testing
The best way to examine a snake’s feces is to look through a microscope. Some parasites such as worms can be seen with the naked eye, but worms do not always evacuate with the poop. Many of the test performed is set up to find eggs shed by the worms. Not the actual parasites themselves. So, by looking at the sample through a microscopic lens we greatly increase the chance of finding a potentially harmful parasite.
How does my veterinarian check my snakes for parasites?
There are actually a few different ways to look for these parasites. The way the sample is prepared for viewing depends on which type parasite your veterinarian is looking for. One way is a fecal float. This typically is a way to search for worm eggs. A sample of feces is mix with a liquid in a tube.
A slide is placed on top of the tube and left for ten minutes. A slide is removed from off the tube and looked at under the microscope. The liquid mixed with the fecal material separate the eggs from the solid matter. The eggs, if any, will float to the top and stick to the slide.
Now a veterinarian can look at the slide under a microscope and determine what parasite eggs your snake has. Each worm species has its own specific shape and sometimes colored egg. Another way to check for parasites is a direct smear.
The fecal sample is smeared onto a slide then a saline solution added. In this test, a veterinarian is looking for movement. Flagellates are the type of parasites are seen swimming around in the saline and take a completely different kind of deworming and antibiotic to kill.
Many exotic veterinarians will perform at least both test in a clinic and depending on the situation send a sample to a lab for further testing. Another way to view a sample is a fecal stain. Much like the smear it just has stain added to it to help view specific parasites that are hard to see without it.
How does a veterinarian deworm a snake?
A veterinarian will examine the feces to identify the type of parasite present in your snake. The snake will be given the appropriate de-wormer to treat the parasites it has. There are a few different options for de-wormers. Most of these are oral liquid medications.
The veterinarian will place a speculum in the snake’s mouth and insert a rubber tube. Being careful not to place the tube into the trachea. On the other end will be the syringe with the de-wormer. They can then squirt the medication through the tube.
To allow the medication to flow into your snake’s stomach, the veterinary will hold your snake upright for a few minutes. Some experienced snake breeders have learned how to do this themselves, which will save veterinary trips for you and your snake.
Can snake poop make me sick?
Your snake’s poop can make you very sick. Snake poop may contain salmonella. This bacterium is transferred to people who handle their snakes and then touch something they put in their mouths or put their hands in their mouths without washing them.
Not always is this due to you getting poop from your snake in your mouth. Your snake can slither across its feces and look clean and you touch your snake and then something in your mouth. Always wash your hands after handling your snake or cleaning it enclosure to decrease contamination of this disease.
Thank you for reading this, please read this article: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GRASS SNAKE CARE