Healthy Ball Python poop should be soft, around 3-4 inches long and is usually brown to black in color. It should also be well-formed into a log-shape and have white urates. Some keepers say it looks like squeezed chocolate cannoli with vanilla cream!
Knowing what normal poop looks like can help you quickly identify health problems.
Observing their poop is an important way to track their wellbeing. It may seem gross, but they can’t tell you when something is wrong! Color, size, and consistency can tell you a lot about their health.
So, what should you know about their poop, and what are some red flags to look for?
- Typically, Ball Python poop will be about ¼-⅓ the size of the prey they eat.
- For hatchlings, think 1-1.5 inch pencil-thin stools. For Juveniles, their poop can be compared to 2-3 inch sausage links. Adults have stools similar in size to a cat’s droppings, around 3-4 inches long.
- It is totally normal to see hair or bits of prey in your Ball Python’s poop – not everything is always digested fully.
- The chalky, white-yellow substance that is often found with snake poop is uric acid. This is a pasty, semi-solid substance that is snake urine.
What Does Ball Python Poop Look Like?
Ball Python poop is around 3-4 inches long and brown to black in color with a pasty, chalk-white or yellow urate at one end. The poop itself should be a soft but formed log, sometimes with a wet appearance. The urates should be a thick, paste-like consistency with a white or light yellow color.
Smaller snakes will have smaller poops because they should be eating smaller prey. Normally, their stools will be around ⅓ – ¼ the size of the mouse or rate they are fed.
Author Tip: If you find a poop that looks like a squeezed chocolate cannoli with vanilla cream, you know it came from a Ball Python!
Every Ball Python will have their own “normal”, this may be slightly different than the description above.
My Ball Python Ivy always has drier stools that are light in color, regardless of hydration and prey. On the other hand, there was one rescue Python I worked with that always had very soft, black stools. Both are healthy snakes, but their “normal” is a little different.
Following your Ball Python’s pooping habitats, and comparing them to normal, is helpful to determine if there is a health problem.
Remember, when comparing poop, fresh stools give the most accurate information.
Abnormal color or consistency, like greens, yellows, or liquid stools, can indicate health issues.
Typically, it takes 5-7 days for a Ball Python to poop after eating. When fed larger prey items, your snake may take up to 10-12 days to pass stools. Monitoring for bowel movements after feedings can help you find poop while it’s still fresh enough to make observations.
Author Tip: If your snake goes more than 14 days without pooping, it is time to break out the soaking bin for weekly hydration soaks. If this doesn’t solve the issue within two feeding periods, contact a vet.
For the most accurate information, you should inspect poop within 3-5 hours. Any longer than five hours and it may begin to harden, dehydrate, or crumble.
If you want a vet to evaluate the poop, try to collect it within 3 hours and refrigerate it until testing.
Color is one of the most important and easily noticeable features of Ball Python poop.
Most poops will be light to dark brown in color, though some may be black due to the blood content of the prey they are digesting. Colors like green, yellow, or bright red can indicate an infection, kidney issues, or even a gastrointestinal bleed.
Since your Ball Python eats a staple diet of the same rats and mice, the color should really only change when treats are fed.
When working with rescues, I noticed that all of the snakes began to have shinier, darker poops when fed high-fat items like rabbit kits, and lighter, drier stools when offered mice.
To determine normal poop color do it after feeding a staple prey.
Your Ball Python’s poop should be a soft, but formed consistency. Think of bread dough – you can form it into different shapes, but it’s still soft and malleable.
Consistency can indicate hydration levels or digestive upset.
For my Ball Python, she typically passes stools on the harder end of the spectrum. No matter how many soaks I give her, or how high I maintain her humidity, this is her “normal” consistency and it never changes.
Hard stools can be a sign of dehydration or improper humidity.
Liquid or “cake batter” can be a sign of stress, parasites, food changes, prey items that have gone bad, or intestinal infections.
Personally, I witnessed explosive diarrhea from my Bull Snake. Upon fecal testing, it was determined he had Stress Colitis due to moving homes, causing him to overproduce certain microbes and produce liquid stools.
For adults, 3-4 inch long poops that are roughly the circumference of a nickel are normal.
Your Ball Python’s poop should be in a log-shape, either as one whole stool or in 2-3 pieces (pictured below).
With Ivy, I have noticed that her poops are typically about ⅓ the size of the prey I feed her.
Poop size correlates to the size of the prey because there is a consistent ratio of digestible nutrients to waste products.
|Hatchlings||1 inch long and thin like a pencil|
|Juveniles||2-3 inch long breakfast sausage|
|Adults||3-4 inch long, roughly the circumference of a nickel|
For hatchlings, normal stool will be around 1 inch long and thin like a pencil. Juveniles are eating larger meals, so a 2-3 inch long breakfast sausage can be expected. For adults, 3-4 inch long poops that are roughly the circumference of a nickel are normal.
Normal poop will smell like rotten eggs – it is not pleasant.
My Ball Python definitely has a rotten egg smell, though the smell usually goes within 2-3 hours. Different prey can change the smell slightly, but it should be consistent and shouldn’t be a strong smell.
While sniffing their poop is not fun, strong odors can help to identify serious health issues.
Extremely foul or sour smelling poops can indicate issues like infections, gastrointestinal upset, or poor digestion.
The most surprising thing for new Ball Python keepers is the presence of urates along with stools. Urates are the chalky, white-yellow substance is snake urine.
Snake’s concentrate their nitrogenous waste into a thick, chalky material, rather than regular urine like mammals. This is totally normal and may even be accompanied with a bit of mucous or liquid.
Ball Pythons will often continue to pass urates between feedings, even without poop present.
These stand alone urates may happen 1-2 times between feedings, and are not concerning unless they are excessively runny or dark yellow-orange in color. It is also normal not to notice this happen, especially if your snake is younger and eating more often.
Aside from typical color and consistency, you may also notice bits of prey in their poop!
Hair is the most common addition to feces as it is more difficult for their body to digest, so it often just passes through. Additionally, bone fragments or teeth may also make it through the digestive tract and end up in stools. This is totally normal as long as all other aspects of your snake’s poop fall into the guidelines above and your Ball Python is gaining or maintaining weight appropriately.
Unhealthy ball python poop includes stool that is yellow, green, bloody, hard or liquid “cake batter”.
Color changes can indicate parasites, infections, vent straining, or more severe digestive tract injuries.
Yellow or green feces can be caused by a gastrointestinal infection or bacterial overgrowth. Some snakes with yellow urates may have bits of yellow in their stool, but if this isn’t normal for your Ball Python, these color changes may require the help of a veterinarian.
Bright red poops are the result of fresh bleeding, which can be a cause of concern.
Sometimes, if a very large prey item is digested, the vent may be torn from straining. This tear can cause some fresh blood to be present. This isn’t a huge cause for concern, though you should downsize your prey to decrease the chances of it happening again.
If there is no injury to the vent, but you notice bright red blood, you should take your Ball Python to the vet immediately to be examined for internal injury.
|Light-Dark Brown||This is normal.|
|Black||This can be normal, and it is usually due to the presence of digested blood from the prey item. I’ve noticed this more with Pythons fed fresh-killed prey.|
|Bright Red||Small streaks of red can indicate a vent tear due to a large stool. Large amounts of bright red may be due to a bleed in the digestive tract.|
|Yellow||Yellow can indicate a kidney issue. Usually, this is when dark yellow or orange urates mix into the stool during a bowel movement.|
|Green||Green usually means an intestinal infection or bacterial overgrowth.|
Urates are also important to Ball Python health.
Dark yellow, orange or extremely hard balls of urate can indicate severe or long term dehydration and, in some extreme cases, kidney injury.
If soaking your Ball Python and increasing humidity doesn’t fix the problem, I recommend bringing your snake in for bloodwork to test kidney functions.
Extremely watery urates can also be the result of kidney issues, so either way, it is important to have your pet checked.
Ball Python poop is around 3-4 inches long and brown to black in color with a pasty, chalk-white or yellow urate at one end.
Remember, your Ball Python’s poop may be slightly different than “normal”.
If no health problems are identified, and the poop is consistent between bowel movements, it may be safe to say that it is your Ball Python’s “normal.” Looking for heavy duty snake tongs?