How to handle an aggressive snake
Snake keepers often come across at least one snake that is a real pain to handle.
Firstly, snakes are not aggressive by nature, they hunt to eat and not for fun.
Defensive snakes are a better term, as owners we assume it is our right to invade their personal space and pick the snake up.
Understanding this alone will help as to how the snake feels vulnerable and under threat.
Do not give up or get unnerved by a defensive snake, they will calm down in time, persistence is key but prepare for some knock backs!
A list of items that will help handling a snake
- A reptile glove left or right-handed or both in needed.
- A snake hook, size should in proportion to the snake’s size.
- A used item of clothing?
- Consistent weekly routine.
- And a lot of patience, it will be totally worth it!
A used item of clothing?
Yes, this works! My boa constrictor was not keen on the idea of being taken from the vivarium.
A friend recommended to put a shirt into the vivarium for a few days as this allows the snake to get used to your scent.
To my surprise, after only a few weeks my boa constrictor as calming right down.
Simply at the end of the day (not a sweaty one) place your t shirt into the caging on one side so it is not forced onto the snake and you can thank me later!
Reptile glove method
In some cases, especially with new keepers, the issue is confidence of going into the enclosure and picking them up.
Jolting back and forth will cause the snake to feel threatened and mimics how birds would approach them.
Going in with a steady motion and picking the snake up off the grow is proven to cause snakes feel more secure.
If you do not feel this is possible or have tried without success, this is where the reptile glove comes in handy.
Quality over cost effect will make this much easier and our personal recommendation is Womdee animal handling gloves from amazon.
These are thick enough to not let the teeth go through.
Start by using the gloves and go into the vivarium with the idea of lifting the snake off the ground for around 1 minute.
Keeping in the cage, even if the snake strikes at the glove repeating this weekly will allow the snake time to get used to your touch.
Some snakes will calm straight away, if this is the case try and step back, so the snake is out of its enclosure.
Using a snake hook
Numerous times a have come across new and experienced snake owners using a snake hook incorrectly.
It is not to lift the snake off the ground at all!
A snake hook is designed to create distance from you and the snakes head, which allows you to pick the animal up by hand.
It is a safety barrier only, mis-using a snake hook for heavier bodied snakes can cause broken ribs or internal damage.
The curve at the end of a snake hook should be place at a point that the snake and not double-back on itself and give you a nip.
A have a small snake hook and hook trained my reticulated python after multiple times thinking I was food as I went into his cage.
We do it slightly different, I extend the hook and go towards his head and gently rub under his chin, I have done it since he was around 6 months old and is now 5 years old.
He immediately responds to it and touch wood never has he mistaken me for his beloved mealtime!
Snake handling consistency
Snakes are intelligent animals and work well with a routine.
From the beginning we would recommend 1 – 2 handling sessions for around 10 minutes.
Each positive week move this up slight, whether it be in time duration or even adding another day to the handling schedule.
Do not assume because you have had a previously aggressive snake and now it tolerates handling for 15 minutes alone with you that a 30-minute handling session in a loud environment will be a great idea.
Slowly slowly catch the monkey, get used to what your snake is comfortable with and what triggers an aggressive response, this will minimize being bitten by your pet snake.
Progress slowly, start with the used clothing item and keep going, we at reptilekingdoms are yet to find a snake we have got to at least tolerate handling for short periods.
If you have any further questions or need an opinion on your snake, drop us a message we would love to help you!
Housing could be the issue
We all love to give our pet snake the biggest cage you can allow, but this can have some serious repercussions on your pet snake’s behaviour.
Big open areas are not where snakes thrive, they hide, burrow or stay within close proximity to a safe zone.
This happened with one of our boa constrictors, the vivarium was 4ft by 2ft in length and the snake was only 2 and a half foot long. After 3 weeks the snake become very cage defensive and struck at anything that went in.
We recommend if you feel the housing is too big, to create a divider of some sort to cut off a part of the enclosure.
This works perfect and as the snake grows you can remove or move the partition across making the cage bigger as you go.
Using your bathtub can help
Believe it or not, with the help of a bath you can increase your chances of taming a pet snake, though getting them to the bath can be the trickiest part.
So, start by putting the snake in water that is just deep enough for them to submerge their entire body.
Once the snake relaxes after a minute or so, put your hand into the tub. The snake often sees your arm in the bath and wraps around it for comfort, in doing so the snake will get used to your scent, to increase it you can begin to lift your snake out the bath and you will notice the difference in their behaviour.