To look at, snakes may appear like one long slithery tube that couldn’t possibly have the same bodily functions as we do. But of course, they are living creatures and do have the need to eat, breathe, reproduce and expel waste. But just exactly how do they do the latter? Do snakes pee?
Snakes do pee, this is an important bodily function that all animals have. However, while humans get rid of their urine in liquid form, snakes’ pee is solid. Furthermore, snakes do not produce anywhere near the same amount of waste as we do.
This may sound a little strange and if you are a new snake owner, you might wonder what on earth is going on when you don’t discover snake pee in the enclosure. Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating subject.
How Do Snakes Pee?
Snakes have a single opening near the base of the tail which is known as the cloaca. This opening is multi-functional and contains the snake’s genitals as well as an exit for pee and poop. However, while snakes do pee, they do it very differently from us.
A snake will produce what is known as a urate. These urates are small solid lumps of crystallized urine and are typically white in color. The urates are crumbly so if you notice anything that fits this description in your snake’s cage, you can be confident that it is your snake’s pee.
What’s even more interesting is that snake pee has quite a strong odor. This is because the uric acid, which is found in all urine, is particularly concentrated owing to the fact that it has not been watered down.
As a general rule, a snake will pee more often than it poops. In some snakes, the time between pooping can be weeks. This is because they do not eat as frequently as humans.
Where we may use the bathroom once and day or more because of our regular intake of food, a snake could go up to two weeks. However, the same cannot be said for urates. While a snake won’t produce as much urine as other animals, it will still produce more urate than poo.
From time to time, you may notice that your snake produces some liquid urine but this will normally be in very small amounts. As a clear liquid, it may go largely unnoticed by owners and be mistaken for water.
How Often Are Urates Made?
We have discovered that snakes’ toileting habits are not as frequent as some other animals so you should not be concerned if you don’t notice urates or poop in the cage for long periods of time.
The process of making urates begins in the snakes’ kidneys. Here any waste will be filtered from the bloodstream and once this has happened, the matter within the urine will be concentrated.
From here, it travels along two passageways known as ureters which lead to two cavities where they are stored.
Snakes do not have a bladder so as soon as the urine is ready to leave the body, it will come out. Both male and female snakes have a cloaca where the waste is excreted and the sexual organs are located.
However, unlike humans, in males, the penis does not have a role in getting rid of urine.
A snake can go many weeks without producing urates but if you notice that your pet has not produced any in more than eight weeks, then this could signal that there is a problem. In this case, you should take your snake to be seen by a vet.
Why Are The Urates Solid?
It can seem like a strange concept to wrap your head around thinking that urine could be solid, but we have to think about what the snake takes into its body.
In other animals, the reason that urine is expelled as a liquid is that these creatures, us included, drink lots of water. On the other hand, snakes have adapted to not need very much water at all.
That being said, this doesn’t mean that your snake doesn’t need water, and you should always make sure that there is a fresh supply in the enclosure. Even if the snake doesn’t use the water, it should be changed daily to prevent a build-up of bacteria.
If the snake is healthy and taking in the correct amount of water, you will notice that the urates tend to come out very slightly moist and will crumble as they dry.
How Should I Clean My Snakes Urates?
Keeping your snake’s enclosure clean is an important part of their care. But since the urates have quite a strong smell and a consistency that we are not used to, many snake owners find themselves questioning the best way to remove them and clean up once the snake has finished doing its business.
Owing to the frequency that a snake pees, there should never be a problem with a build-up of waste in the cage and this makes it a lot easier to clean.
If you notice your snake has produced urates, you can remove them immediately to stay on top of the cleanliness of the cage.
This is as simple as removing the crystallized lumps and any substrate that has come into contact with it, replacing bedding as you need to.
It is also important to keep an eye on your snake’s urates as they can be a sign that the snake is suffering from a health condition. While urates are typically white in color, there can be hints of orange, yellow, and even green in them.
If this is something that has always happened, then it is likely that it is normal for your snake. However, if there is a sudden color change in the urates, you will need to have your snake seen by a vet to determine the reason for this.
Snakes are unique creatures and much of their biology is fascinating. One thing that surprises many new snake owners is that rather than producing liquid pee, a snake will produce small crystalized lumps known as urates.
This is normal for a snake but from time to time they may produce a very small amount of liquid urine.
Urates can have a very pungent smell, especially if they are not quickly cleaned up and while your snake won’t pee very often, it is a good idea to spot clean the enclosure when you notice fresh urates.
Also, you should check what the snake produces to make sure that there aren’t hints of a health condition.