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Handling Ball Pythons for First Time. . .

Discussion in 'Ball Pythons' started by 1melissa3, Mar 26, 2009.

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  1. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    Was wondering about handling and carrying ball pythons around for the first time. . . We've had ours for a couple of months and my husband has picked them up, moved them around, fed them, and all that, however, we've not taken them out and held them, nor passed them around yet with the kids. I think it would be important to start, and soon, as they tend to always be interested in attention, however, if one strikes, that would be the end of the session for my husband. I can't really determine their aggressiveness, as they seem pretty docile, but the female with watch everything pretty closely sometimes, almost like she's hungry, but perhaps it's just for attention. We have passed around our RTB, and he struck just the one time that he was pulled back by the tip of his tail.:eek:
     
  2. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    just stay gentle, and watch their body language (yes, snakes do have body lingo) most will adopt a very distinct S curve (striking pose) when upset, though often it is too quick. Introduce the snake to the idea of being handled slowly. Don't just pull her out and pass her around half a dozen people. Start with just one or two, and work your way up. Most Ball Pythons are pretty laid back, so you shouldn't have a problem unless your snake has a previous history of aggression, which I'm assuming it doesn't.

    Ball pythons get their name from their habit of curling up in a ball (with head in center) when distressed - watch out for that too, and put the snake away to calm down for a few days if they exhibit any stress behaviors.
     
  3. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    I have watched and all three tend to sometimes just move in that S shape around their "homes". What I have seen as a striking pose is the way it looks to me that they get, seemingly at nothing I see. I wondered if they were under stress, but if I watch long enough, they also move out of it in time. It's almost like reflections in the glass, which they have bad eyesight, set them into fear of sorts. Perhaps not. I know my RTB was moody for a few days, but we held her for a very short time, and she was fine after we had her out. It's a little hard to "know" so soon, it will take making a few mistakes, I figure, before we are sure. My kids are all for it, and they are gentle enough that I'm sure in time, it will work out. Thank you, again, for getting back to me.
     
  4. missabrat

    missabrat Elite Member

    I would start out handling them yourselves, in a quiet environment, for short periods of time, each time longer than the previous, get comfortable with the snake. Then introduce the children...

    When I start working with a new animal at the rescue, I go in confident,calm, cautious.

    it is key that you work with it in a calm serene attitude, they can feel,sense your emotion, if your anxious, your animal will likely feel the same


    be one with the snake grasshopper LOL
     
  5. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    many snakes will also adopt the strike pose if startled, in preparation for a possible strike - if you accidentally bump their nose, you'll see it. Many snakes, especially ones who are handled often, sometimes do not have this reaction, because it is common for their heads to be touched. The more time you spend with your snakes, the better you will get to know them, and begin to read their moods.
     
  6. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    One other thing to remember- when you pick them up do it smoothly and with a degree of confidence. Sudden "herky-jerky" hand movements make ball pythons very nervous, possibly sparking a defensive strike. Also remember some ball pythons are "head-shy" they will jerk their heads back quickly if they see something coming at them that they don't recognize. If this happens while you are holding him it can be very unnerving the first couple of times until you recognize that he is not trying to bite you but he is trying to get his head out of the way.
     
  7. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    You are all so very helpful, thank you! I know with my rtb, I was the first to carry him home, it was a long drive and I held him in his sack all the way so he would be warm. I have told my kids to breath/blow lightly on them as they reach into their "homes" so they can tell who is in their space. I don't know if it will make that much of a difference, but it seems to calm the rtb, the balls are yet to determine.
     
  8. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    Everyone on here is very helpful. That is the reason I joined here. The whole idea is we are reptile enthusiasts helping reptile enthusiasts. I for one enjoy helping out, my information is only from my experience and what I have read, but I am glad to pass it on if it helps. I think that it is the same for everyone else on here too.
     
  9. Maya

    Maya Elite Member

    It is just a matter of familiarity. Tiberius will pull back if I accidentally touch his nose when changing his water, then I ensure to make peace with him, and calm him down. I am acutely aware of times when he is jumpy and it seems like it is always when he has been with a mouse that he is not interested in eating.
     
  10. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    Yeah my guys and gals do the same thing. They seem to run "hot and cold" sometimes they act headshy and then a minute later they are pushing their noses up against my hand. That is the fun of a ball python, it will keep you on your toes. They can be exasperating but they are also so darn addictive.
     
  11. Kendalle

    Kendalle Elite Member

    I think a good way to pass a snake is to bring it up to the other person with their arm out and let the snake transition its self, it won't get in a defensive pose if you let it glide from one place to another on its free will with you pushing it or the other pulling on it it might get more nervous
     
  12. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    True, very true. I also am extremely careful about who I pass my snake to because I don't trust just anybody. I have to know that they are comfortable with the snake and won't accidentally drop my baby if it should jerk away or make some other sudden movement. I made that mistake the hard way after allowing one of my nephews hold my first ball python- as soon as she moved he almost dropped her and he screamed just like a little girl.
     
  13. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I'm the same way - My snakes are my children, and You don't trust them to just anyone.
     
  14. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I would advise not to blow on the snakes. Look at it this way. If you were a predator, the snake sees your face coming and then feels your breath,...what do you think goes through its mind.
    That THING is about to eat me!
    Also when handling be relaxed and make your movements slow and deliberate. Avoid coming directly at the head from the front.
     
  15. angrykitten

    angrykitten Elite Member

    When we first got Sibilla, the breeder told us to handle her and to gently touch her head every time...she said that the snake was not going to like it, but that soon she would have gotten used to us. So we did that: at the beginning she used to jerk her head right back as to protect herself, but I noticed that she doesn't do that much anymore, especially with me (I am the one who handle her the most).
    This reminds me that a couple of weeks ago our neighbor came to visit and he wanted to handle Sibilla. He was so nervous about it that he kept her very far away from his face stretching his arms as much as he could: Sibilla didn't move a bit, she just stayed in his hands until I picked her up, very comfortably, and she immediately started to crawl up my arm with her tongue flicking. A friend who was there too noticed that and mentioned: "I think she can recognize your smell...she acts differently with you". I don't know if that it is possible or not, but I believe they can sense if you are nervous.

    And as you mentioned about your children I just wanted to share this picture of my 3 year old with Sibilla...mind you I always supervise as he doesn't understand he needs to move slowly and gently. I am never worried Sibilla could bite my son, always watching that is my son not hurting the snake.
     

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  16. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The best way to introduce a non snake person to your snake is to have them sit down, be still, and then hand the snake to them or just put it in their lap! If they are too nervous, remove the snake back to yourown control. I have seen far too many people who, being nervous about it, when the snake moved unexpectedly they either dropped the snake or in a couple of cases actually threw the snake away from themselves!
    Take things slow and easy. Rushing things will not help.
     
  17. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    Things are always best once the kids are in bed, or at least in their rooms, initially. After I get the snake out, then I let one or two come out, quietly. After the first time of the boa, who seems to be the most temperamental yet, struck at me, I haven't let the kids get loud or traipse through the room we're handling the snakes. I don't take the snakes out yet with my husband home because he is still very unsure and thinks they should stay in their "homes" without being handled. The thought of keeping a boa for any length of time makes me want to "make friends" as much as possible with him. He seems so much more afraid (at times) or, rather, least interested in being handled, even though I've handled him most. It's so fascinating to see the difference in personalities(?) with them. . . I took the male out more in the last few days, and he did exactly what the above post said, he was just real quiet and unmoving, at first, and gradually he got more secure and then moved around pretty happily. Mind you, there isn't anyone around but me and one or two of my kids at a time. . . The female, who is a little bigger, we have not done more with than move her around yet, but she is just content, it seems, to have no more attention than that yet. :)
     
  18. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    We have a 2 year old son and we are working on introducing him to the snakes. He loves them and will constantly walk over to their cages saying "Hi snake" and looking in at them. He has held our corn snakes while we were right there to watch him and he did fairly well. I think we will possibly just work with the corns for now and let him work up to the balls,boas and all of the others. As his experience level grows his contact time will increase. He is also going to start learning how to care for them and to clean cages in a year or so. We are also teaching him that before and after handling the snakes he has to wash his hands to help control germs spreading both to the snake and to him.
     
  19. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    That is really a great idea. With my three, I am so happy that we have the opportunity to get things like snakes, fish, mice, etc. . . because it is something they can be exposed to and learn from the correct way. When my twins were 3 they were in our yard playing ((in the woods)) and came running saying that they killed a snake. I went to look because we had several I knew around, and you'd never guess, it was a small copperhead(!) They had killed it some how and even cut it's head off!!! Needless to say after that, I had always told them that if something is in the yard as such, STAY AWAY FROM IT. ((Boy, was I shocked beyond words!)) Now that we have these in the house, they not only see what I do for them and with them, but they also want to do stuff. . . It's a slow process, but they'll get there one day, as I haven't gotten far yet! :)
     
  20. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    Yes it is a slow process, but with anything involving children it is time well spent.
     
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