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The Ultimate Snake Poop Guide

Snake poop guide

Making sure that your snake is healthy includes ensuring that their digestive system is healthy. Quite often a sickness, parasites, etc. can be noticed simply by keeping an eye on your snake’s poop – or lack thereof. It may not be glamorous, but it is important. 

In this article we’ll look at everything you need to know about your snake’s poop – the good, the bad, and the gross. We’re starting with what to look for in healthy snake poop before moving on to things that can lead to your snake’s poop being abnormal and what to do about it. Keep reading for a handy infographic to print and keep! 

Table of Contents

What Does Normal, Healthy Snake Poop Look Like? 

Snake excrements consist of two parts. While the poop is dark brown or even black and log-shaped, the urates are just a white tip that looks like chalk. Snake poop is usually solid, but many snakes also excrete fluids while defecating.

What does snake poop look like?
Snake feces and lizard feces look pretty much the same. Dark poop + white urates. In this case, you can see that there is an insect wing in the poop on the left side. So this is probably lizard poop – unless it was an insect-eating snake!

A little mucus or fluid isn’t something to be worried about as this will just be a bit of liquid urine.

Your snake’s feces can also contain fur, nails, and/or teeth. These are leftovers from their prey that weren’t fully digested before being passed. 

Is It Snake Poop Or Regurgitation? 

Regurgitated food is easy to identify as it will still look like intact or partially intact prey.

There are many reasons why your snake may regurgitate their food, and it could be as simple as stress from being handled too soon after they’ve eaten. 

How To Keep Your Snake From Regurgitating Their Food 

Regurgitation in captivity usually has to do with husbandry (the way you’re keeping and caring for your snake).

So, for example, if your snake’s immediate environment isn’t right for their breed and it’s too hot or cold or too humid or not humid enough, they will find it difficult to digest their food and will regurgitate it to ensure that they don’t get sick from the undigested food in their gut. 

You, therefore, need to be very careful with your snake – even though they look very tough they need a lot of TLC to keep them happy and healthy in captivity. 

Here is a video that thoroughly explains regurgitation and what you need to do about it: 

Let’s look at the reasons why your snake may not be pooping and what you can do about it. 

Why Is My Snake Not Pooping? 

There are various reasons why your snake may not be pooping. The most common reasons are:

  • Your snake is digesting its food 
  • Your snake is constipated
  • Your snake is impacted 
  • Your snake has an upcoming shed 
  • Your snake is about to go into brumation 

It’s important to know why your snake isn’t pooping – or isn’t pooping as often as they usually do. If you know what their routine is and if they struggle with pooping, you’ll be better equipped to know what will help and when you need to visit the vet.

Tip: Keep reading to find out how often the breed of snake you have usually poops.  

1. Your Snake Is Still Digesting Its Food 

Snakes can take anything from a few days if it’s a small snake eating a mouse, to a few weeks, if it’s a large snake that can eat, for example, an antelope to digest their food.

It’s therefore important to know about how long your snake will take to digest their food.

After all, it’s only after fully digesting their food that your snake will be able to poop.

What To Do If Your Snake Is Still Digesting Its Food

If it’s been more than 48 hours, you can start to handle your snake if you need to – it would then be long enough that they don’t regurgitate their food.

However, if it’s only been a few hours or a day or so, just leave your snake alone and let their digestive tract get to work. 

2. Your Snake Is Constipated

Just like humans and other pets, snakes can sometimes get constipated and struggle to poop.

Snakes usually go quite regularly along with their feeding schedule, so if you find that they suddenly stop pooping or are taking longer than usual, your snake may be constipated. 

There are a number of reasons why your snake may become constipated, including husbandry issues or a diet that consists of frozen-thawed food.

The husbandry issues that could leave your snake constipated is a tank that is kept at the wrong temperature – especially a tank that’s too cold, a tank that is kept too dry instead of at the correct humidity, or not giving your snake access to fresh water all the time. 

Because dehydration plays such a huge part in constipation (and impaction, but we’re still getting to that), it’s very important to ensure that your snake doesn’t get dehydrated. Not only is it bad for their gut health, but their overall health as well. 

What To Do If Your Snake Is Constipated 

If your snake is constipated, you must act swiftly to prevent the constipation from becoming impaction.

One of the most successful ways in which you can help your snake go, is by soaking them in warm – not hot! – water for 10 to 15 minutes.

Your snake should be able to pass the poop while they’re in the water or within a day thereafter. 

It’s very important that you don’t give your snake any medicine or an enema on your own unless your vet has explicitly told you to do so. You could cause more damage to your poor snake and even lead to its untimely death. 

If you’re worried that your snake may be sick or have parasites, take the poop to your vet.

They’ll make sure that your snake is free from illnesses and parasites, especially since parasites can build up in your snake’s intestines when they’re constipated. 

If the warm-water trick and changing the environment don’t work, your snake could suffer from impaction and not “simply” constipation.

Keep reading to find out more about impaction and what you need to do if your snake is impacted.  

Why is my snake not pooping?

3. Your Snake Is Suffering From Impaction 

If you find that your snake isn’t pooping at all, it could be that they are impacted – severely constipated – and aren’t able to pass their poop on their own. This is very dangerous and you should waste no time in checking your snake for symptoms. 

There are only a few symptoms if your snake is impacted, and they’re easier to spot if you’ve had your snake for a while and know them well.

The symptoms of impaction in snakes are:

  • lethargy 
  • doesn’t pass a stool for weeks
  • eats very little or, most likely, nothing at all 
  • may regurgitate their food if they do try to eat

You can also look for swelling around your snake’s cloaca, as the impacted lumps of feces (fecalith) can be so large that it distends their body. On some snakes, the skin may even look bruised. 

What To Do If Your Snake Is Impacted 

If you suspect or know that your snake is impacted, get them to your vet immediately as they will need medical intervention of some kind or your snake could die.

Your vet will try various interventions after taking some x-rays to see if they can dislodge the fecalith without surgery. 

Should the other interventions not work, the vet will need to operate on your snake to remove the fecalith matter in that way.

As you can imagine, this is really a last resort and is very dangerous to do even though it can be a life-saving operation. (Keep reading to find out how you can keep your snake’s poop healthy.)

4. Your Snake Has An Upcoming Shed 

Snakes shed their skin as they grow and age. Various factors have an influence on the amount of time between your snake’s sheds, but the most important thing is to note when a shed is about to happen and to ensure that nothing goes wrong during or after the shed. 

Snakes usually stop eating before they shed their skin and may even stop pooping for a time before they shed their skin.

Depending on the age and size of the snake, this could mean no pooping for weeks. It’s therefore very important that you know your snake and know what’s normal and what’s not. 

Signs that your snake is about to shed its skin, are:

  • Their eyes will go cloudy and turn a bluish color
  • Their skin will start looking dull and faded
  • They may use their hides more than usual, especially the cool, damp hide
  • They may bathe in their water bowl
  • They may lose their appetite 
  • They may start brushing against rough surfaces in their tank to loosen the old skin
  • They may stop pooping and only go after they’ve shed their old skin. 

What To Do If Your Snake Has An Upcoming Shed

If you see signs that your snake is going to shed their skin, first wait to see if they poop after shedding their skin before getting worried that they may be impacted.

Keep an eye on any swelling around the cloaca, but otherwise, you can just leave your snake and let nature do its work. Just remember to give them enough water to drink and bathe in – it will help with the shedding. 

can snakes digest fur?

5. Your Snake Is About To Go Into Brumation 

Snakes from more temperate climates with cold winters – for example, corn snakes, milk snakes, and garter snakes – may brumate even in captivity.

During the colder months, this brumation will leave your snake “asleep” for most of the time and they will only drink water every now and then.

They will not (and should not) eat as they shouldn’t have any food in their digestive tract while brumating. 

Note! Snakes from temperate climates brumate, not those from tropical climates. If you have a snake from a more tropical climate (like some pythons and boas) and they go off their food and become lethargic, you need to get them to the vet as soon as possible. 

What To Do If Your Snake Is About To Brumate 

If the months are getting colder and your snake is getting ready to brumate, it’s extremely important that they be in good health before starting their brumation.

You should, therefore, get them looked at by your vet to ensure that they are in the best health possible.

You also need to feed them the last time 14 days before they start to brumate as their digestive tract should be completely empty. 

This means that your snake needs to empty its bowels before starting to brumate. If they don’t – or if they are constipated at this time – they could very easily die from an infection caused by the rotting food and feces.

If you suspect that your snake is constipated, you need to give them a soak in warm water and see if that helps. Otherwise, you need to get them to the vet before they start brumating. 

Tip! Keep your snake’s tank at summer temperatures and light levels until your snake has been given a go-ahead from your vet to brumate.

You can then slowly change the temperature and light levels to resemble winter and be jealous that they get to sleep through winter and you don’t. 

Why Does My Snake Have Diarrhea? 

why does my snake have diarrhea?
Fluid excretion with a solid dark brown part is nothing to worry about. If the whole stool is watery, it is probably diarrhea.

If your snake has diarrhea, you need to act quickly as it is very dangerous and your snake can lose a lot of fluid quickly. It can also be indicative of a serious underlying health condition.
The symptoms of diarrhea in snakes include: 

  • Runny, watery, foul-smelling stools
  • Pooping more than once between meals
  • Lethargy

The most common causes of diarrhea in snakes are

Parasites

Especially internal parasites like worms and coccidia. Mites and ticks can also cause problems if the infestation gets bad.

Malnutrition 

Your snake should always be fed a balanced diet that fulfills their nutritional needs.

If snakes don’t get enough calcium, for example, they can suffer from metabolic bone disease, a crippling illness that leads to an awful death for the suffering pet.  

Their tank’s sanitary conditions 

A dirty tank serves as the perfect breeding ground for a variety of germs that can, in turn, cause illnesses. 

Humidity and temperature inside the tank 

You should have a thermometer and hygrometer handy at all times to ensure that your snake’s tank doesn’t get too hot, cold, humid, or dry.

Do the necessary research for your specific snake breed’s necessities and make sure that your tank stays at those temperatures and humidity. 

What To Do If Your Snake Has Diarrhea 

If your snake has diarrhea, it’s important to get them to the vet as soon as possible and to take a sample of the poop to the vet so that they can check it for parasites and illnesses.

Your vet will also be able to treat your snake for dehydration, etc. and keep them for a day or two if required. 

Tip! Place some of the poop in a sealable plastic bag like a sandwich bag and seal it tightly. You definitely don’t want it opening in the car halfway to the vet or spilling anywhere! 

What Does Strange-Coloured Snake Poop Mean? 

The color of its food usually won’t change the color of a snake’s poop.

One symptom of an ill snake is strange-colored poop – green, red, white, or yellow.

While it’s not always necessary to take your snake to the vet immediately when you see that their poop has turned a weird color, it is good to know what to change in their diet or husbandry to correct it. 

Here are the common colors of feces that your snake may get if they’re under the weather. 

Green Snake Poop 

Although a slight green tinge to your snake’s poop is nothing to worry about when the temperatures start to drop, deep green or bright green color to the poop or urates can mean that your snake has liver problems or an infection. Bile makes the feces green.

What To Do If Your Snake Has Green Poop 

If you notice that your snake has green poop, the best thing you can do is to take them to your vet as soon as possible.

That way, in case it is a problem with your snake’s liver, it can be sorted sooner rather than later. Waiting could put your snake’s life in danger. 

Remember to take a sample of your snake’s poop with you to the vet (in a sealable plastic bag) so that the vet can test it for any illnesses, parasites, etc. 

Red Snake Poop  

If you see that your snake has red poop, it means that your snake has fresh blood in or on their feces. If the blood is from your snake’s prey, it’ll be a very dark red or black.

However, if you see bright red blood, it means that your snake is bleeding internally for some reason. 

What To Do If Your Snake Has Red Poop 

Red poop could mean that your snake is struggling with constipation and that they’re bleeding because they’re trying to move their bowels, but the fecaliths (pieces of poop)  are too big to pass without injuring their bowels.

However, whether this is the case or if something else is wrong, you need to get your snake to the vet immediately as blood on their stools could be life-threatening. 

Remember to take a sample of your snake’s poop with you to the vet (in a sealable plastic bag) so that the vet can test it for any illnesses, parasites, etc. 

White Snake Poop 

Snake poop always contains a part that is anything from white to off-white and even yellowish. These are the urates and are nothing to worry about as it’s a natural part of the feces.

However, should you find that the normally white urates change color, it may mean trouble – keep reading to find out what to do in those cases. 

Old poop can also turn white. This can happen if your snake poops somewhere hidden and you don’t find it in your normal spot-clean (otherwise, remove the poop as soon as possible to avoid bacterial growth that can cause illness and a nasty smell). 

Finally, white poop can simply be from your snake eating a diet (or prey item) that is very high in calcium. You can also check if the white piece of the poop isn’t a piece of bone, a tooth, etc. from their last prey. 

What To Do If Your Snake Has White Poop 

If your snake has white poop that isn’t from urates, high calcium, pieces of prey or that’s old poop, you need to take your snake to the vet so that they can do tests on the feces to find out what’s causing the white color.

Otherwise, relax and just keep an eye on their next poop. 

Remember to take a sample of your snake’s poop with you to the vet (in a sealable plastic bag) so that the vet can test it for any illnesses, parasites, etc. 

Yellow Snake Poop 

Yellow or even orange snake poop could simply be the urates of your snake’s poop that are a more yellow color than usual.

This can simply be from their prey’s nutritional value and is usually not something to worry about if it’s just a once-off. 

What To Do If Your Snake Has Yellow Poop 

While some snakes always have yellow urates in their poop, if it’s a sudden color change and is not just something that happens once, you will need to take your snake to the vet.

Yellow or even orange-tinged urates may mean that there is a problem. 

Remember to take a sample of your snake’s poop with you to the vet (in a sealable plastic bag) so that the vet can test it for any illnesses, parasites, etc. 

Do Snakes Poop Out The Bones Of Their Prey? 

No, snakes don’t poop out the bones of their prey, although some hair, nails, teeth or bits of bone may be in their feces from time to time.

Snakes can digest the bones of their prey because of their strong stomach acids and the long time their food stays in their digestive tract. 

If you find that there are lots of bones in their poop, it can mean that they’re ill or that they have regurgitated their food and it’s not abnormal poop that you’re seeing.

In the feces of snake-eating snakes, like this king cobra, you can find scales of the snakes they have eaten.

5 Ways To Ensure That Your Snake Has Healthy Poop 

Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure that your snake has healthy poop and doesn’t get constipated or impacted. Here are five ways to keep your snake’s bowel movements healthy. 

Feed Your Snake Smaller Prey 

Feeding your snake prey that’s too large for them could not only lead to them regurgitating the prey, but can also lead to constipation and impaction.

Instead of feeding your snake one large prey item, you can rather feed them two smaller prey items. This is especially helpful in young snakes who still need to “grow into” their full size when they can eat larger prey items. 

Ensure Your Snake Doesn’t Eat Their Substrate 

Snakes don’t normally eat their substrate, but will start to do so if they require certain minerals. Then they may even consume sand.

So, to ensure that they don’t consume their substrate, make sure that you always feed them a balanced diet that contains all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that they need to keep them healthy. 

You are what you eat! If you feed your snake live prey, you will need to ensure that they are also healthy and well-fed.

You can’t feed your snake live prey that is already half-starved, for example, and expect your snake to receive all the nutrients they need from that prey item. Think of it as gut loading for mice (or other prey). 

Ensure The Correct Temperature and Humidity In The Tank

Because snakes are cold-blooded, they need to be kept at a specific temperature in order to keep their body temperatures at a level where they can digest their food optimally.

If your snake is too cold, for example, they may be unable to digest their food, and the food can even start to rot in them, leading to infections and sometimes death. 

Make sure that you do ample research about the exact breed of snake that you own so that you know what their habitat in their tank should be.

This includes the temperature gradient and the humidity. You should have a thermometer and hygrometer for your snake’s tank to ensure that both the temperature and the humidity are perfect for your snake. 

Offer Enough Water For Your Snake 

Your snake should always have fresh, clean water in their tank in order to drink water whenever they need to to keep from dehydrating.

They can then also lie in the water if they need to. Fresh water in a container that’s big enough for them to lie in is necessary even for those snakes whose natural habitat is desert-like. 

If your snake gets dehydrated, they can easily become constipated or impacted because the feces gets too dry to pass easily. It’s therefore really important that your snake has enough water. 

Soak Your Snake’s Prey In Warm Water 

If you give your snake frozen then thawed prey (for instance, frozen mice), the prey may not have enough moisture in it anymore as some of the moisture is lost when the mice or rats are frozen.

To add some moisture back into the frozen prey, thaw them by placing them in warm water (not hot or boiling – you don’t want to cook it!). 

Tip! Some snakes don’t like wet food though, so you may need to pat it dry first with some kitchen paper, for example, before you feed your snake. 

How Often Do Snakes Poop?

On average, if you feed your snake once a month, you can expect it to poop once a month. If you feed it once a week, it should defecate once a week. If your snake defecates several times between meals, it might suffer from diarrhea.

Because snakes vary in size so much, it’s important to keep in mind that some snakes can perhaps poop only every couple of weeks or months as opposed to every few days.

how often do snakes poop?
This will take longer than 5 days to digest!

In the table below, we’ve added ten of the most common pet snakes, how often they need to be fed and how often they poop on average. 

Note that these are based on adult snakes of that breed. Younger snakes will have shorter time spans between feeds and therefore will also poop more often.

Also, note that averages are given, so if you find that your snake takes a day longer to digest their prey you don’t have to worry unless you see some of the complications we mentioned above in their poop. 

Snake Breed How Often To Feed Them How Often They Poop
(Days On Average After Eating) 
Ball python Every 10–14 days 4–7
Boa constrictor Every 7–10 days 7–10
Corn snake Every 7–14 days5–7
Rat snake Every 7–10 days 2–3
KingsnakeEvery 10–14 days 5–8
Garter snake1–2 times per week3–5
Milk snakeEvery 5–7 days 5–8
Hognose snakesEvery 10–14 days3–5
Rough green snake2–3 times per week2–3
Ringneck snakes2–4 times per week1–3

When You Should Take Your Snake To The Vet Because Of Their Poop

A good rule of thumb to have when it comes to taking your snake to the vet because of their poop, is to take them whenever their poop is an abnormal color – especially when there are parts that are bright green or bright red – when they have diarrhea, or when the poop suddenly changes from how it always looked in any way.

Refer back to the article or to the infographic for more details. 

You should also take your snake to the vet immediately if you suspect that they are impacted or when home remedies for constipation don’t work within a few hours (warm water soaks and belly massages).

Impaction can be especially deadly for snakes and may – even if it doesn’t kill them – require very dangerous surgery to remove the impacted fecaliths. 

If you suspect parasites or worms, you should take a sample of your snake’s poop to the vet to have them test it.

You should also take a sample of your snake’s poop with you to the vet in a sealed bag if the poop looks any different than what it usually does. 

Conclusion

Snake poop may not be something you want to think of, making sure that your snake’s poop looks healthy can help you to determine whether your snake is in good health or not.

And, if there seems to be something wrong, you can get veterinarian help before it’s too late. 

Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team
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