Do snakes poo?

This question was asked by Alexei from West Sussex, UK

There are around 3000 different species of snakes in the world, and they range from just 10 centimetres long to more than 9 metres. They all eat meat and can live for up to 25 years. When a snake catches its prey it is able to dislocate its jaw so that it can stretch wider – often up to 150 degrees. This means that snakes can consume prey that is much larger than themselves, as you can see in this video:

Many people think that instead of pooing snakes merely regurgitate (pronounced re-GER-jit-ate) the parts of the meal they can’t digest, but that’s not true. Although some egg-eating snakes, like the one in the video above, do regurgitate the shell most species have stomach acid strong enough to dissolve bone. This means that they’re able to consume an entire animal, though if disturbed too soon after eating a snake will vomit up the partially digested prey so that it can move more quickly – snakes tend to be sluggish and slow after eating.

So how exactly do snakes poo? In the same way as most other creatures. When its meal has been broken down in the stomach it moves along through the intestines, with any toxins being processed by the liver. The waste product then moves along to the anus, which in snakes is inside a small slit called the cloaca; this is on the underbelly immediately before the tail.

Before you ask, snakes don’t really wee. Their waste is expelled as one substance, with any liquid combined with the poo. In this way snakes are very similar to birds.

Featured image “Thamnophis sirtalis” by jcook83 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 

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