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Handling Rtbs. . .

Discussion in 'Common/Red Tail Boa' started by 1melissa3, May 1, 2009.

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  1. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    :eek:It is still very hard to handle "him". I tried again today, but to no avail, he moves quite adeptly out of my grasp. I moved his log and water dish, leaving only his hide in, cleaned everything, and attempted to move him. He lets me pick him up and I can touch him, even his head. . . However, as soon I as I go to remove him completely from his cage, he tenses up and squirms more toward the back where he latches on to anything and everything to stay put:mad:. I don't force him so I put him down and he stayed in striking pose for a moment before taking off to his hide. I am worried because I have to be doing this all wrong. He wasn't this opposed to being handled when I first got him, but after so much time has lapsed and I had hoped to let him recover, he just has come to this about not wanting out. How bad can a bite be? It doesn't seem right to force him to be held, and he may bite, but if it would ultimately teach him to trust me, it would be worth it.:eek:
     
  2. kenman1963

    kenman1963 Moderator

    How long have you had him ? Is he a baby ? Most boas are pretty docile, the younger ones a bit more touchy out of instinct. You may just have to give him some time.
     
  3. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    He really isn't very old, but he's about 1" thick in the middle and perhaps 29-30" long. We got him from the pet store in March, I believe. He has grown some, it seems, and shed once. I just worry about how much time has already past. Is trust something that can come with older boas, or does it have to be established before they get "bigger". . .(??).
     
  4. bdoink

    bdoink Elite Member

    Don't worry too much about getting bit. It's really not a big deal. A friend of mine has a red tail, probably a bit bigger than yours. He just got bit a few weeks ago and didn't even think he actually got bit until it started bleeding.
     
  5. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    My big boa is very skittish as far as being taken out of her enclosure, but once she is out she loves being held and will often curl around my arm and not want to be put back into her enclosure. She does the same things that you have described your snakes doing like trying to get away and holding on to anything she can get a hold on. With a little GENTLE persuasion she eventually comes along for the ride. It really makes cleaning her cage much easier and before I put her back I make sure we get a little bit of bonding time. Just remember what Merlin said about having a large uncontrolable snake that does not like to be handled. As far as the bite goes, small snakes can draw blood but generally they are not very painful. The swiftness of the bite is what most people don't believe. You will be bitten and released usually before you even are aware that you have been bitten. Larger boas obviously inflict more serious and painful bites.
     
  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Melissa, you really need to relax a bit. You are blowing this all out of proportion. And talking yourself into a tizzy in the process. You will get more distress from the thought of being bitten then the actual bite itself. A bite from a small snake is like being pinched. It will do no real damage. Maybe a couple of pinprick drops of blood if any at all.

    Later on however it will be a much different different story!

    You have to realize that the snake doesn't know that you mean it no harm and the fact that YOU are uncomfortable is telegraphing itself to the boa. You need to relax and not be so tense about it. Your movements should be slow, fluid and deliberate, no rapid movements, jerking or shaking. Just gently pick the snake up, move over to a chair or somewhere to sit, then let the snake go slithering from hand to hand. It may be a bit squirmy at first but will soon settle down. Don't try to grab it, squeeze it or hold it tightly, just let it roam thru your hands.

    As for the tail grabbing things. It means nothing. Its a safety device. Its their way of anchoring themselves in the event of a fall. My big girl will still do it, even going so far as to intertwine my cell phone or a belt loop on my pants! Try getting THAT tail unwound is interesting to say the least.

    Maybe this story will give you an idea what I am talking about. I was in Petco looking at a tank of ball python hatchlings when the clerk struck up a conversation with me. She was telling me how these snakes were so aggressive that she couldn't even put her hand in the tank without getting bitten.
    Turns out she was scared to death of them! I watched as she gingerly put her hand in the cage and every time one of the snakes so much as moved, she flinched and jerked her hand back. I told her to step back and watch. I reached in and picked up the whole slithering mess in one hand and pulled them out of the tank. Not a strike one! She was totally amazed.

    The moral of this is to be confident about how you proceed. A nervous handler makes for a nervous snake. If you are relaxed the snake will settle quicker.
     
  7. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    It is more of a fear that I will drop him out of reflex that I worry about the affects of a bite, but you are all so very helpful and very encouraging. It is only me that will take him out and I don't have anyone here that is even interested in sharing that part for now until I initiate it. It is just the first part of handling that is unnerving because I have seen even the more aggressive rtbs simmer down and enjoy the attention after a few minutes.:)
     
  8. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    Just remember-experience comes with lots of practice. You'll get it and then you'll be wondering why you waited so long.
     
  9. legalcmf

    legalcmf Elite Member

    Hi Melissa.

    Stop worrying about being bitten hon, I was bitten on the face by a ten foot boa a couple of months ago; I even put the pics on here, but he's still my baby and I love him to bits.
     
  10. Aalamil

    Aalamil Elite Member

    I've been bit by my Red tail, actually today and he/she is a bit bigger then yours....hardest thing is when they strike don't yank away, let them release first. I developed some sort of a neurological problem these last few days and have major tremors in my hands, hence I got bit today cause I couldn't keep my hand still and the shaking as trying to pick up brought out a feeding response
     
  11. Aalamil

    Aalamil Elite Member

    i have to have a link to those pictures please! That had to sting ;)
     
  12. wildheart

    wildheart Elite Member

  13. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    Thanks, y'all. :) My hubby fed him day before yesterday, so it will probably be a little longer before I go in after him again. He struck at the glass two nights ago(!). He's never done that, but it was when we were getting things together to feed him, ironically. He just seems to be so territorial, is that even normal? I heard so much that it was.
     
  14. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    And, yes, I saw those pics of your face. . . that doesn't look like anything I want to come close to, but I understand about still thinking well of your boa. You are much braver than I am;)
     
  15. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    In my experience- yes, it is normal for them to strike at the glass as you are getting ready to feed them. All 3 of my rtb's strike at the glass as I start feeding. They can smell the rats and they're feeding responses are so strong they just can't contain themselves. I just watch how I open their enclosures and dangle the rats in front of them then POW- they've got it and are constricting before I realize they have it. The large female- I just toss the large rat in and she eats it when she wants it.
     
  16. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Our large female has a very strong feeding response. Once the cage is open, we stand back and toss the rat (and a few time's she has caught it) because more than once, she will lunge right out of the cage as it opens...

    our male however is a brat about food. pickiest **** snake we have.
     
  17. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member


    That is just crazy! Ours will eat anything we put in there, well, except the duck, but our bps are unbelieveably picky!
     
  18. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    Was just wondering with how strong their feeding response is, we have ours right beside of the feeding cage with that "smell" of the mice/rats. I worry about him, as I want him to be comfortable and not stressed. Perhaps moving the feeding cage will help.
     
  19. 1melissa3

    1melissa3 Elite Member

    David, do you handle all of yours?? Even the largest ones?? Would like to know your ways.
     
  20. David McConley

    David McConley Elite Member

    1Melissa3-Yes, I do handle all of my snakes--even the 12+ foot burmese python. Of course as per my own protocol I do not handle them for 2-3 days after I feed them. After that amount of time though I can open the enclosures and take them out to handle. The only one that I don't handle regularly is the blood python though I am more and more convinced that it is actually a short-tailed python which is closely related to the blood. She was a rescue and she is very aggressive and strikes the cage if I get too close. I am working on trying to gentle her down some though and I am having a small amount of success with her. Two weeks ago she shed incompletely and I did the pillowcase trick with limited success, so I rubbed her with a wet paper towel and she actually tolerated it with very little striking, only some hissing and pulling away. What kind of information about handling do you need to know about? I will be glad to help you if I can.
     
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