Snake - Bowel Movement and Urination
Your Healthy Snake: Bowel Movement and Urination
According to Kasey, Zen Habitats Animal Care Manager and Certified Veterinary Technician, your snake’s bowel movements and urination can be an indicator of its overall health.
Q: How often should my pet have a bowel movement?
Kasey: “This will vary greatly on species and how frequently they eat. The more frequently or infrequently they eat, the more frequently or infrequently they will defecate. For example, Ball Pythons will typically defecate about a week after eating. Snakes will only poop after the entire meal has been digested, so the bigger the meal the longer it will take to go.”
Q: What does a healthy poop look like?
Kasey: “A healthy bowel movement is made up of different parts: a semi-formed brown or blackish “log”, a white chalky part called urate, sometimes a small bit of mucus, sometimes some liquid urine, and sometimes bits of fur, bones, etc.”
What does an unhealthy poop look like?
Kasey: “An unhealthy bowel movement will have a change in consistency, smell and/or color. A more liquid poop may indicate diarrhea or that your snake is not absorbing fluids appropriately. Contrarily, if your snake’s feces is very dried out that may be an indication of dehydration that can lead to impaction. If your snake is defecating multiple times between meals this may also be an indication that something may not be right.”
Q: How can I tell if my snake is urinating enough?
Kasey: “First, we need to understand how reptilian equivalent urine is different from mammals. In mammals you have kidneys that filter out the bad stuff, the urine then travels done the ureters to the urinary bladder for storage and then out the urethra. In snakes they do not have a urinary bladder, so urine is not stored and the ureters empty right into the cloaca (common cavity that serves as the only opening for the digestive, reproductive, and urinary tracts). The cloaca’s job in this case is resorption of fluids and electrolytes, because reptiles are so good at conserving fluids, they produce urates instead of liquid urine. Normal urates should be white (they can also be yellow, orange, or green), soft, chalky and rounded, if your snake’s urates are very dry and hard that is an indication that they are dehydrated and may become impacted.”
Q: Is there a change in smell that may indicate something?
Kasey: “Let’s be real for a second, poop smells, but if there is a sudden change in odor that may be an indication that something is wrong. The most common issues in your snake’s gastrointestinal tract are endoparasites, these can be worms, protozoa, etc. Your vet will be able to perform a fecal evaluation and prescribe an appropriate antiparasitic.”
Q: What can I do to help improve my snake’s pooping and urination?
Kasey: “In most cases, poor bowel movements are caused by improper husbandry. Things to take into consideration are appropriate humidity, providing more water, feeding smaller prey, soaking the prey, or soaking your snake. All of these can help with constipation. If it is a severe case seek veterinary care immediately because impaction is a medical emergency.”
(This content is informational only and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your veterinary professional)