Your ball Python is going to poop. Yep, it’s a natural process that all animals need to go through, and your Python is not going to be exempt from this.
There are so many questions that owners often have. [Source] How often will they poop, what does it look like, what poop problems may I encounter, and so on…
I have owned ball pythons for more than twenty years, and in that time I’ve got my head around all the biggest pooping issues. This article is the result! I am going to address every key fact, every question, and every hot topic to help you understand everything you can about ball pythons pooping, and how you can help as the owner.
How Often Do Ball Pythons Poop?
A ball python will usually poop around one week after eating. It takes one week for it to fully digest its food. The amount it poops therefore is connected to how often it eats. Large ball pythons are recommended to eat once a week, so they will also poop at this frequency.
To summarize, how often they eat equals how often they poop.
So, if a Python only had food a few times a year, then they would only poop a few times a year.
The Link Between Food and Poop for Ball Pythons
Of course, it does make a whole lot of sense for there to be this link between food and poop. If we eat less, then we are going to poop less, and your ball Python is going to operate along similar lines.
If your Python is fed every two weeks, then they will pretty much poop every two weeks. However, in the wild, they may only eat once a month, or longer, at which point they would only poop once a month.
You get the picture.
How Long After Eating Should They Poop?
But let’s say your Python has had a good meal. How long after eating it should you expect some poop to appear?
While it’s not set in stone, there is a general rule of thumb in that it will be around a week after consuming a nice meal that your Python is going to get busy with producing a poop. The reason for this is that your Python is only going to poop once their meal has been completely digested.
However, there are things that can change this timescale.
The environment in their tank will play a role. Also, if they are stressed out or unwell, in some way can lead to some changes in their digestion.
One thing you should be aware of though is that they really should poop less than two weeks after eating a meal. If they get up to day 14 after a meal, and nothing has happened, then it’s best to see about talking to a vet, as it could indicate that there’s another issue going on for your Python.
The Amount of Poop is Not Relative to Their Food
The digestion of a Python is highly efficient at what it does. Their digestion is very good at absorbing a vast amount of nutrients out of whatever it is that they have eaten.
As a result, the level of poop that your Python will produce in relation to a meal is small by comparison. It’s believed that somewhere in the region of 9% of the ‘meal’ is going to be turned into poop. That means they are able to use up to 91% of the meal for other uses in their body, and that is pretty amazing.
But then, the amount of food will have a small impact on what they produce. It stands to reason that if you feed them a small mouse, they will then produce less waste, but the percentage of waste in line with the size of their meal won’t change.
Where Does a Python Poop From?
So, where does the poop come from with your Python? The answer is that it comes out of their cloaca, which is basically their anal opening.
You will find their cloaca situated at the end of their belly and just at the point where their tail starts. It should be pretty easy to spot, and it’s where everything is going to be expelled by your Python.
Also, if you have ever heard about a snake expelling something when they are being picked up, then it’s going to be coming from their cloaca. However, this is designed to spook whatever is picking them up, to then drop them and let them get on their way, so see it as a way to protect themselves. [Source]
A Cool Fact About Their Digestion
When it comes to eating, a Python in the wild will never know when it’s going to get its next meal. That’s why their digestion has evolved and adapted to deal with this particular situation.
So, what happens is that their digestive system will slow down in between meals. It drops by up to 50%, and that’s pretty amazing, as it means they can then go longer between meals without it affecting them too much.
This is something that your pet Python will still do, as it’s something that is naturally in them. You must remember that your Python is still going to be oblivious to when they will get their next meal, even though you know it’s just around the corner.
How Do You Know Your Python is Digesting its Food?
It’s quite easy to come to the conclusion that your Python is digesting their food, as their behavior tells you everything that you need to know.
When they are dealing with a meal, they will become very dormant. They will curl up in their favorite hide hole, and they will stay there until everything has been digested. This can take some time, which is especially the case with a larger meal, so don’t be surprised if they stay there for a couple of days.
The reason why they hide is because of the way in which they get their body to break down the meal. They actually increase their heart rate as this then sends more blood through their digestion, and it speeds up the process as more digestive enzymes are secreted.
Also, blood is used to absorb the nutrients and pass them through
What Their Poop Looks Like
So, we aren’t going to draw you a picture of a Python poop, and that’s because there can be some variation. Exactly how their poop looks will depend on various things, including what they have had to eat, and also how hydrated they are at the time.
However, what you will see is that Python poop is normally brown or black in color. They are also generally not rock hard, but also they are not like water, so we can say they sit pretty comfortably in the middle of this.
Don’t be surprised if there’s some white mixed in with the poop. This will be the urates, and it can sometimes also be yellow in color. This is completely normal, and it’s nothing to worry about at all.
It actually makes sense for you to get acquainted with what their poop looks like. It means you will find it easier to determine if something is wrong just by looking at their poop, as this can often be an indicator that all is not well with some part of their health. However, how could you determine this if you have no idea what it normally looks like?
What Size Is Ball Python’s Poop
But what about the size of their poop? Well, it’s usually going to be less than four inches long, but don’t be surprised if your Python produces something bigger if they have had a large meal. Alternatively, there are reasons where they will hold onto their poop, which we will cover later, and this can then lead to something bigger being produced the next time.
They can also be relatively wide when it comes to their size. Look at the width of your Python as a guide. It won’t be the exact same width as them, but it will certainly be wider than you would expect to come from your pet Python.
So, we just explained what a Python poop should look like, but how do you determine what may be wrong when it comes to problem poops?
Well, the way it appears can be an indicator, and we can look at the color first.
If their poop is white in color, and especially if this is matched with their poop becoming like water. If this happens, then chances are that your Python has some sort of digestive problem.
It can also indicate that they have some sort of an infection, and you should certainly get them checked out by your vet.
You should also keep an eye open if their poop is green in color. This can indicate something they have eaten that has changed the color, but it may also point toward some sort of infection.
But there’s a problem with another color, and that color is yellow.
The difficulty is that uric acid can come out as a yellow color, and yet if their poop is yellow, then it’s best to have it checked out by a vet. The problem is in trying to tell the difference between urine and poop. So, if you are uncertain, then leave it to a vet to differentiate.
Another problem is if their poop becomes too dry. This is a clear sign that they are dehydrated and not getting enough water. Pay close attention to their water bowl, and add fresh water on a regular basis. Also, look at increasing the humidity in their habitat, as that too can play a role in this change to their poop.
We now need to talk about something that’s a bit unpleasant, and that’s Python diarrhea. This is easy to spot, as it happens when they are pooping on multiple occasions between meals. There’s no reason why a Python should poop if they have not recently had a meal, so if they are defecating, then it’s a sign that they have an issue.
If this happens, then consult your vet. You also want to make sure that they are not becoming dehydrated, as this can happen in the same way as it will happen to us if we have diarrhea.
But what happens with constipation and your Python? Well, this is where they can act a bit differently to other animals.
If they are unable to poop, then don’t be surprised if your Python ends up regurgitating their meal in all its digested form. This is not the nicest of things to see, but it’s their way of trying to stop a backlog of poop in their system, and it will often sort things out.
However, don’t be surprised if they still go ahead and do this, even when they are also able to poop. It seems as if they get drawn into repeating the process on a regular basis.
Shedding Can Play a Role
At times, your Python may be having some difficulty in pooping because it is coming up to shedding its skin. It’s not uncommon for a Python to hold onto its poop at this point. However, they will then release it all once they have finished shedding. This is also another reason why holding off with feeding your Python when they are shedding is such a good idea.
While this doesn’t happen with every Python, it is still a relatively normal event, and it’s certainly not something to worry about. So, if you realize your Python is not pooping, then do check for the tell-tale signs that they are in the shedding process, as this can let you know more about what is going on.
A Side Note About Urine
Let’s quickly break away from talking about snake poop, and focus on urine for just a moment. A snake produces uric acid, and this comes out as a sort of white substance. They produce more urine than they do poop, so this will certainly happen on a more frequent basis.
Also, your Python should produce some uric acid not too long after they have had a meal. This is a sign that their body is breaking down the proteins and other substances in the meal, and it’s a good sign that indicates all is well from a health perspective.
You will also often see some of this uric acid in their poop. It will mainly be white in color and mixed in with the rest of the waste, but it could also be yellow as well.
Helping Your Python to Poop
We mentioned earlier on how long it generally takes for your Python to produce some poop after eating, but if they appear to be struggling, then there are some things you can do to help the process along.
One of the first methods is to bathe your Python in some water. Make sure the water is hot, but nowhere near a scalding temperature, and place them in the water. You will often find that reptiles in general will find it easier to then poop in this situation. The water helps them on their way, and they can also relax while doing so.
Another option, which is certainly worth considering, is giving them a belly massage. Now, this does depend on how confident you are in holding your Python, but they should have no real problems with you doing this to them.
Start up at their head, and work your way down to their tail. At times, you may even be able to determine where the poop is stuck, and you can then get to work effectively massaging the poop out of them.
But then, why not combine both options to make the pooping process as easy as possible for your Python?
A Summary of Python Poop
So, with so much information to process, let’s look at trying to sum everything up.
In this instance, you can expect your Python to poop around a week after they have had a meal. If this goes beyond 14 days, then there’s a problem, as your Python may be ill, or constipated.
Keep an eye on their poop and the color. It should be brown and black with white specks through it, and anything different may indicate that there’s an issue with their digestion, or they have an infection.
Finally, you can do your bit to help your Python if they are having trouble pooping. Increase humidity, encourage them to drink some water, and even consider giving them a belly rub, as this will all play a role in helping to get things moving.
However, if you are at all concerned with their pooping habits, then take them to a vet that specializes in reptiles. They can check them out to see if there’s anything wrong, and then provide a solution that will get their bowel movements on the go once more.