You may wonder why you would ever want to know about snake poop in the first place. However, the digestive system of humans and animals tells us a lot about the way their body works. That is why it is important to learn about snake poop, if we really want to understand them. In fact, you will probably be amazed by what you discover about snakes in this article.
The Rhythm of Poop
Because we go to the toilet to poop on a daily basis, for most of us, you could think that it is identical or similar for all animals. If so, you will be quite surprised to learn that a snake rarely poops. At the opposite side of the scale, birds can do so 40 to 50 times a day, but always in small quantities. Since the snake rarely eats, it is only normal that he rarely poops as well. But that is not the only reason that explains this. It’s also in great part because its digestive system is an extremely efficient machine. Let’s take a closer look.
The Snake Digestive System
Snakes don’t chew on their food; they absorb it whole. If need be, they even dislocate their jaw when what they eat is too big otherwise. They don’t end-up choking, because they have a separate windpipe and oesophagus. Once their meal is inside them, they start digesting it, thanks to stomach acid, the same way we do. However, the length of time the food remains inside them is much longer than for us, which is probably the biggest difference between snakes and humans. Naturally, it affects the way they poop, which they don’t have to do regularly.
When it is time to do so, the snake goes through muscular contractions. The poop comes out through the end of its tail, from an organ called the cloaca. One thing you probably don’t know about snakes is that they don’t only use it to poop. They also use that organ for mating and laying eggs. Their liquid excretions also come out from the same place as their poop.
Millions of Years of Evolution
The digestive system of snakes has evolved for millions of years, in order to become what it is today: An efficient machine that lets them eat sporadically, while accumulating lots of energy to stay strong between meals. Snakes eat preys that are bigger than they are. While it remains inside the digestive system, the snake can be three to four times the weight that it normally is, when empty.
This evolution took place, so that the snake could survive, if it did not find food for a long period of time. That is because many of them live in arid regions where it is difficult to catch preys regularly. Since their digestive system is made to eat a lot at once, but not often, chances the snake will live a long life are greater.
So, Why Do Snakes Rarely Poop?
By now, you have understood that the fact it rarely eats relates directly to the fact that it doesn’t poop regularly. In fact, the snake diet is the first reason that explains why its digestive system doesn’t need to expel excrements frequently. Only once the digestive cycle is complete will the snake poop. The exact time varies widely between the variety of snakes, and it usually has to do with their size. A small one will poop two days after eating while a bigger one may take up to seven days to do so.
The very large ones, such as boas and pythons, don’t poop for months, some even for a whole year. Scientists have been intrigued about this for a long time, and they came up with a variety of theories. For some, snakes don’t poop because the smell of it is quite strong and may lead their predators to them. Others think that the added weight inside their bodies give them a greater sense of balance, which they can use when they hunt and jump on their prey. It has also been suggested, that by keeping the excrements inside their body, they consume less energy, which is something important to them, as we have mentioned before.
The digestive system of snakes is optimized to fit their lifestyle and to keep them strong. By eating large preys, they accumulate energy which they will then use to survive in between meals, which can take a long time for them to find.
By keeping their poop inside, they don’t indicate their location. As we mentioned, it is better because it doesn’t inform their predators, but it is also a great advantage to prevent animals that they prey upon to learn of their presence.
Everything inside them is built for maximum efficiency. Not many animals use the same organ to procreate and to expel excrements as snakes do. It is proof that the snake organism has evolved to maximize its longevity.