So you know the feeling when you are just calmly sitting on the couch, holding your pet snake and next thing you wonder, “Why does my lap feel wet?” Yep, your snake just peed on you again! Maybe it’s happened to you repeatedly and now you really want to know what’s going on.
So, why does my snake keep peeing on me? There could be several reasons, including nerves and stress, preferring to go outside the cage, or simply that it needs to go at that moment.
Keep reading to find out how each of these three reasons could be causing your pet snake to pee on you, as well as some tips and precautions you could take. We will also look at why, where, when and how your snake actually pees.
Snake Peeing Due to Nervousness
Your snake may look as cool as a cucumber, not showing any outward signs of stress, nervousness or anxiety. But don’t take it for granted that this is the case. If your pet snake is constantly peeing soon after you pick it up, it could well be a case of nerves.
Remember, snakes are essentially wild creatures, and they need to be slowly tamed and acclimatized so that they get used to being handled.
Be careful how you approach your snake when you go to pick it up. Try not to startle it with sudden movements. Rather come in slowly from the front so that it can see you coming, and always be gentle. Don’t squeeze the abdomen area or be rough in any way which might cause undue distress.
Snake Peeing Due to Preference of Outside Location
It could be that your snake just prefers to go once it is outside of its usual living space. Maybe it feels more relaxed, and doesn’t want to foul up the area where it spends most of its time. Some snakes will see it as a cue to go once you remove them from their terrarium. This could be a bonus as it saves you cleaning up the cage!
Either way, it’s a matter of getting to know your pet and understanding the individual preferences of your snake. Then you can act accordingly and find a happy solution that works for both of you.
Snake Peeing Due to Timing
Another possible reason that your snake keeps peeing on you could be simply a matter of coincidence and timing. Maybe it just needs to go right when you happen to be holding it. That’s all good and well, and all part of being a proud pet snake owner.
That being said, there are a few things you could do to make your experience a little more comfortable and streamlined. Here are some tips and precautions.
Tips and Precautions to Deal With a Peeing Snake
Always Keep a Towel Handy
Pets can be a lot like babies – because they can’t verbalize and tell you what they plan to do, you could be in for a surprise at any moment. These surprises often come in liquid form – so it’s always good to have a nice thick towel close at hand. Make a standard practice to have a towel or cloth on your lap when holding your pet snake.
Choose a Suitable Place to Let It Go
After a while you may become quite adept at reading the signs your snake gives so that you know when it is about to go. This is your cue to quickly nip into the garden, or hold it over the toilet bowl or any other suitable location of your choice which is easy to clean up.
Some snake owners have it down pat – they know when their snake needs to go and then they take it out for a walk in the garden to do its business.
Keep Calm and Do Laundry
If it happens that your pet snake pees on you, just bundle up the affected items and throw them in the laundry. It’s not worth stressing about – after all, peeing is a natural function for all of us.
Be Gentle, Be Patient and Persevere
As you keep handling your snake with sensitivity and gentleness, it will get used to being handled and will learn that you are not posing any kind of threat. If the peeing is a stress related reaction, it should diminish over time as your pet snake gets used to being handled.
Why, Where, When and How Do Snakes Actually Pee?
Now let’s have a quick look at what actually happens when your snake pees. The anatomy of reptiles, and specifically snakes, is somewhat different than that of mammals and other animals.
It’s All About the Cloaca
Snakes have one special vent called the cloaca, and this where everything happens; peeing and pooping, as well as mating and laying eggs in the females. The cloaca is located near the end of the tail and it consists of a small flap. Snakes do not have a bladder where they can store urine, so any wastes from the digestive system and kidneys are excreted via the cloaca.
Pee, Urates, Poop and Musk – What’s the Difference?
Snakes don’t need to pee and poop everyday like other animals. In fact some snakes can go for several days or even weeks without evacuating.
With regard to pee, some snakes, especially in the wild, do not in fact excrete liquid urine. Instead their pee comes in a white, soft, chalky form, which is called urates. It often comes out at the same time, or just before the poop, which is brown of course.
When the snake is well hydrated, their urates and poop are covered in a moist, slimy coating which then dries hard or chalky when exposed to the air.
Urates are a concentrated kind of urine which is the snake’s way of conserving water. This is particularly true where the snake lives in arid or desert areas. Even though snakes in captivity usually have access to more water, you’ll find that they’ll still urinate in the form of urates simply because of the way they’ve evolved over the course of time.
Sometimes your pet snake will excrete a liquid which is called musk. This is usually their way of marking territory, or of selecting a mate, or of trying to repel predators when they feel threatened.
What Does Snake Pee Look Like?
Like most other kinds of pee, snake urine is clear or light yellow in color. If it comes in the concentrated solid form of urates, it can range in color from white to yellow. Urates are often lumpy and are sometimes excreted as one large lump, or several smaller lumps or blobs. If your snake is peeing on you, you are probably quite familiar with how it looks and feels (and smells!)
Does Snake Pee Smell?
Yes, it certainly does – just like any other pee tends to have a pungent odor! Snake urine can smell a lot stronger than other kinds of pee due to the fact that it is highly concentrated. If snake pee or urate is left to stand for any length of time it can take on a kind of fishy smell as the bacteria work on the uric acids and turn it into ammonia.
If you notice that your snake is smelling a bit fishy or rank, it may be time to clean the enclosure and give your pet a bath to freshen up.
What to Do if Your Snake Isn’t Peeing
It’s one thing to have your pet snake peeing on you, but what if you have never seen it pee at all? Generally this is not something you need to worry about too much. As mentioned above, snakes can go for a long time without peeing or pooping. It’s all to do with their slow digestive system, and then again, yours may be a snake that only does solid lumps of urate. Alternatively, it may be hard to see if it has peed in the substrate while you weren’t looking. If you are worried about anything though, it’s always a good idea to check with your reptile vet or professional snake breeder.
So now you know a bit more about why your snake may have been peeing on you repeatedly. Although your pet may not look stressed, peeing could in fact be a nervous reaction if it is not used to being held.
Or it may just prefer to do its business outside its cage – after all, no one likes a stinky living quarters! Then again it may just be a matter of timing – when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go!
Remember there are a few precautions you can take, like always keeping a towel handy. And now you understand how your snake’s anatomy works, you are sure to feel a bit more at ease about why, where, when and how your pet snake chooses to pee. So just go with the flow and enjoy your special reptile!