Do Snakes Fart? How Can You Tell?

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde
Updated: January 15, 2023
© iStock.com/GlobalP
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Do snakes fart? The answer to this question will probably surprise you mainly because snakes have a mysterious personality. There are so many things about them that aren’t known to everyone. People who own pet snakes are often surprised when they discover new things about their pet snake that they didn’t know before. 

One of the strange behaviors you’ll probably never expect a snake to show is farting. It’ll surprise you to know that snakes do fart. Yes, you read that right! Snakes fart. They only do it once in a while under special circumstances. Farting is normal in snakes. However, it may also be a result of a medical issue. This is why you need to know how farting works in snakes, why they fart, and when you should be worried. Read on to discover how farting works in snakes and whether or not it is normal behavior. 

Why Do Snakes Fart?

Snakes pass gas. However, they do not do it in the same sense that humans do. Generally, farting is the body’s way of releasing excess gas trapped in the alimentary canals. In humans, this is made worse by our diet. Most of the gas that humans pass is due to our consumption of vegetable material. The bacteria trapped in our gut break down the plants in our diet and release gas as a by-product. 

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Snakes are carnivores, which means their diet does not contain plant matter as humans do, and there are no gut bacteria to act on the food they eat. Consequently, their gut does not produce gas the same way ours do, and they rarely need to pass gas in the form of farts. 

When they fart, it typically doesn’t make any noise, and it doesn’t smell like a human fart either. Therefore, you may not know if your pet snake is passing gas. Snakes fart through their cloaca, the same organ they use to expel waste and reproduce. 

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Do Snake Farts Smell?

Because snakes produce very little gas, it is hardly likely that you’ll notice at all. Most times, you’ll only notice your snake farting if it is underwater, where the gas may show as bubbles in the water. Also, snake farts don’t smell, so they’re unlikely to clear out a room when they pass gas. 

Reasons Your Snake Might Be Farting

In addition to passing gas normally, snakes may fart intentionally for specific reasons. This depends on the species of your snake and other factors as highlighted below: 

Defensive Farting 

In most animal species, a fart is seen as a gross thing. But some species of snakes can wield their fart in a cool and creative way to protect themselves against predators. This is known as defensive farting. 

When a snake feels threatened, it usually hisses and rattles. These are signs that are meant to warn an attacker to stay off. If the warning isn’t heeded, they may strike the attacker and poison it with their venom. However, some species of snakes have a peculiar way of defending themselves using their fart. Two notable examples of snake species capable of doing this are the Sonoran Coral Snake and the Western Hook-Nosed Snake

When snakes of these species feel threatened, they can force a loud fart that sounds like a high-pitched human fart. This loud popping sound lasts for a short time (less than a fifth of a second) but is often enough to startle the predator and scare them off. They can also do this repeatedly until the attacker backs off. 

But how do they do this? To produce such spontaneous flatulence, snakes tend to use their cloaca. This is why the fart is sometimes referred to as cloacal pops. To produce this sound, they intentionally move the orifice to suck in air by contracting the cloacal sphincter (the muscles around the cloaca). Contracting and relaxing the muscles like this produces the popping sound in the species of snakes that can do this. 

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Brumation

Snakes and other reptiles often hibernate when the temperature drops too low. If this occurs too soon after a snake has consumed a large meal, it might lead to indigestion because the meal will remain in the snake’s gut for a long time while it hibernates. In this case, the snake will end up passing excess gas from its gut when it comes out of hibernation. If your snake is active all year round due to optimal temperatures in its terrarium, it is unlikely that it’ll ever experience this kind of problem. 

Self-Cleaning

Another common reason why a snake might fart is if it is trying to get rid of a piece of debris or grains of sand in its cloaca. To do this, the snake would try to blow out the debris by forcing air out of the cloaca. First, it will open its mouth wide to draw in some air. The body will swell up slightly when it does this. Afterward, it will push air out of the cloaca to clean it out. 

If the snake is sitting in water or on a loose substrate, you will notice bubbles or a cloud of dust forming from underneath its body due to the pressure from the air blowing out of the cloaca. Otherwise, you might not notice at all.

Should I Be Worried About My Snake Farting?

Farting is not a common behavior in snakes. In fact, they rarely do it in normal conditions. Therefore, if you notice that your pet is passing gas too often, something might be wrong.

Also, snake farts are not meant to smell. If the gas your pet passes has a bad odor, you should be worried. It is possible that bacteria or any other type of parasite has gotten into their intestines somehow, causing the case of excessive farting. Your pet is particularly at risk of getting a bacteria infection like this if you feed it with wild-caught animals instead of captive-bred animals. 

Indigestion is another likely cause of frequent farting. Usually, this passes quickly, and your snake should stop farting within a few days. If the farting persists, you should take your pet to the vet to have it checked out. 

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Conclusion 

As weird as it might sound, snakes pass gas once in a while. This means it’ll be normal to notice your pet snake farting once in a while. However, this is a rare occurrence often used to clean their cloaca or scare off an attacker. As long as you keep your snake on a healthy diet, it should occasionally pass gas. If you notice that it is doing it too often, you should visit a vet to have the situation checked out.

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The Featured Image

Scaleless Corn Snake, Pantherophis Guttatus, in front of white background.
Snakes do fart, and some even do it voluntarily as a defense mechanism.
© iStock.com/GlobalP

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated content writer who can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing about animals, nature, and health. He loves animals, especially horses, and would love to have one someday.

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