There are a lot of great things to be said about keeping reptiles as pets. They’re beautiful, unique, and fun to keep around. Most importantly, reptiles are low maintenance. (like those who travel frequently for work, have irregular or unpredictable schedules, or simply aren’t up to the many needs of traditional pets). One of the challenges, however, is bonding with an animal that’s so vastly different from both ourselves and the pets we’re used to. How do you bond with an animal that naturally prefers solitude? How can you tell if you’re bonding? This article will guide you through the process of bonding with your pet snake and learning how to recognize the signs that it’s working.
Can you bond with a snake?
First, let’s address the snake’s frosty reputation. Known for being rather aloof, snakes aren’t standoffish by choice. The reason why they’re not as affectionate as other animals can be is rooted in biology. If you need to catch a snake consult the professionals https://seqsnakecatchers.com.au/.
These living fossils existed along with dinosaurs–they’re old. Although modern reptiles are vastly different from those in prehistoric times, their brains, are not so much. Reptile brains are comparatively much simpler and lack the development that allows for emotional processing. As a result, reptiles have a limited capacity for feeling affection–much less showing it. Their emotions are limited to those necessary for survival, fear, and anger, and so on.
So if your feelings are hurt that your snake doesn’t greet you when you get home and seem particularly enthusiastic when it’s being handled, don’t take it personally. It’s quite literally them, not you. That being said, there are ways to a snake’s heart. But the signs that your bond is growing can be subtle and easy to miss if you don’t know what to look for.
How To Bond With Your Snake
Physical touch is a powerful bonding tool for humans and snakes but it’s particularly important for the latter group. Snakes are technically undomesticated animals and regular handling is needed to prevent them from falling back into their wild instincts. The best thing to do to bond with your snake is to handle it as often as it will allow.
How Often Handle a Snake
Some snake species are more sensitive or intolerant to handling than others. Overhandling can cause them to be stressed, and they are more likely to lash out in their agitation. For most snake species, aim to handle a few days a week for no more than 15 minutes at a time. Once they seem to relax in your hand, you may be able to increase the frequency or duration of these handlings.
When To Handle a Snake
If it’s a brand new snake you’re trying to bond with, patience is key to starting the relationship on the right foot. Give your snake some time to acclimate to its new surroundings, this could take a few weeks. Be observant of its body language to recognize when it’s calm and content. Additionally, wait until its been given at least one meal and never handle within 24 hours of it having eaten.
Right & Wrong Ways to Handle A Pet Snake
However, it’s not just the quantity of these interactions with your pet snake that matters but the quality as well. To ensure that these handling sessions are helping rather than hurting the bond you’re trying to build, be sure to keep these snake-handling tips in mind:
- Don’t hesitate when reaching for them, your nervousness will be noticed and it will end up making them nervous as well.
- Grab from the side, not the top since that’s where predators would normally grab them from.
- Don’t pet it before picking it up. This is not a soothing gesture and instead, puts them on the defensive
- Don’t touch the head
- Lift, don’t grab the snake
- Pick up from the middle, never the head or tail, and support as much of the body as you can.
- End a handling session before the snake seems agitated to end on a good note.
Respect The Privacy Of Your Pet Snake
Provide hidey holes, branches, or any other place where they can feel secure and safe. This is the key to a happy snake. Failure to provide some sort of hiding spot could cause your snake to feel too exposed, which in turn might lead them to feel stressed or constantly on the defensive. This will severely impair any efforts you make to bond since its survival instincts will be in high gear.
The security of having a place to hide when needed means you’ll have a more relaxed snake on your hands which is key for creating the possibility of bonding in the first place. As will be discussed next, the majority of signs that your snake likes you are the signs that it feels safe and secure in its environment.
Signs Your Pet Snake Likes You
The closest emotion snakes have to happiness is feelings of safety. So those same signs that a snake feels secure will be the indicators that your snake likes you, namely, that they don’t see you as a threat.
- The calm flicking of the tongue: Snakes use their tongues to “smell” for everything from finding food to identifying who’s standing in front of them. Frequent flicking indicates that the snake feels the need to frequently get updates on its surroundings which is a sign that it’s stressed, anxious, or agitated.
- Unhurried movement: If a snake is exploring its enclosure in a laid-back manner, that’s a great sign that it feels safe. By contrast, if it’s seemingly pacing, moving back and forth, or in an erratic way, it could be a sign that they are actively trying to escape.
- Draping: This is the equivalent of snake lounging. If the snake feels comfortable enough to hang out on branches or rocks, it’s clearly happy. A frightened snake would instead try to make itself flat and stiff to try and go unnoticed.
- Gentle grip: If the snake is agitated during handling, it may go stiff or wrap itself tightly around the appendages it is supported on. A gentle grip means it’s relaxed and feels comfortable in your hands.
If you’re inexperienced with handling snakes, search for beginner-friendly snakes for sale such as the ball python or corn snake. They’re docile and social and enjoy human interaction.