This is part of a series I am writing for my website. Striking at the keeper: Recently I have been asked by a few snake keepers why their snake, which has been so nice for some time, has started striking. Others just have snakes they claim that has a “bad attitude”. In most cases of a younger snake this is just a defense mechanism used to protect itself. However with the older snakes I have seen a pattern that makes me think the owners have inadvertently taught the snakes to strike. We all know that animals get conditioned to their surroundings and the pattern that became clear was that the owners were feeding the snakes inside the habitat where they lived. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it seems to condition the snake to think that everything that comes through the lid is a food item. I recently took in a 2-3 year old Red Tail Boa that is a great snake once you picked her up. But when you reached into the cage to get her she would strike at your hand. The theory I had was that she had food aggression. So we set up a little controlled exercise. She was taken out of her cage and fed in a separate tub. A feeding tub can be any clean container (we prefer Sterilite) that is free from obstructions. This technique is used with all my snakes and is very effective. After only 6 weeks of using this method of feeding the snake in the test no longer strikes when you place a hand in her enclosure. She is a much happier snake and her owner is pleased because the fear of a strike has all but been removed.