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Another hisser!

Discussion in 'Boas *General*' started by Microscope Jockey, Sep 28, 2004.

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  1. Microscope Jockey

    Microscope Jockey Elite Member

    My little Dumeril's boa, Rose who is usually the sweetest snake on the planet, has quite suddenly and inexplicably turned into a hisser! :mad: The first time she did it was last week and I wasn't sure she'd hissed because Ginger (the hissy bull snake) was in close proximity to my knee at the time and I thought it might have been her. I was also quite suprised because while I realize that almost all snakes can hiss I was under the impression that Dumeril's boas were usually not inclined to, especially my sweet Rose! I thought maybe it was because she was in shed and I'd startled her but that's not the case anymore. I'm really not sure what her problem is so hopefully somebody can come up with an idea. I have not been handling her a lot but I don't always handle her a lot because sometimes she's a problem to feed. I haven't changed anything recently about her parameters. I put her in a smaller cage because I'm getting her a bigger one but she's been kept in a snug cage before and is pretty sedentary anyway but she'd been in the small cage for awhile before the hissing started. Something that did happen was I dropped her the last time I handled her, which was right after feeding but it wasn't much of a fall and she seems to be functioning properly so I wasn't worried about it. Perhaps she feels threatened in the small cage when the big scary hand reaches in? I dunno :( I don't like being hissed at by her even though she hasn't tried to bite or even done an open mouth hiss, this is just such odd behavior for her that it upsets me :( I pulled my sleeves down so she couldn't get my hands and grabbed her despite the hissing and she's sitting in my lap wrapped in a piece of cloth quite calmly at the moment. What shall I do?
  2. kenman1963

    kenman1963 Moderator

    How old is Rose ?? if she is a baby it could be just normal defense mechanisms (anything bigger than me is out to eat me !!!!)
  3. Microscope Jockey

    Microscope Jockey Elite Member

    Rose is about 14 months to the best of my knowledge. I've had to do some fairly unpleasant things to her in the past and she's never hissed or tried to bite so I dunno :(
  4. kenman1963

    kenman1963 Moderator

    tempermental female maybe ????? LOL... Maybe it is the smaller cage, have you taken her out and handled her lately ???
  5. Jay DeMore

    Jay DeMore Elite Member

    Sounds like a case of the "terrible two's" She's a cranky toddler now.
    It could be the small cage size, she might feel like there is no way out when you reach in.
  6. Microscope Jockey

    Microscope Jockey Elite Member

    Do snakes really go through the "terrible twos"? If so I'm in trouble because all my snakes are that age :( When she hissed at me I was just reaching for her water dish, I didn't actually touch her. Oh well I'll try to get her new cage set up ASAP and see what she does. If anything a bigger cage will give her more room to strike and bite me :p
  7. Inphormatika

    Inphormatika Elite Member

    You are so lucky. My snakes are all so docile. I wish I had a hisser. :mad: :p

    Perhaps in the fall, something could have been injured, and she's just not showing it. Or, if it was pretty recently, she may just be mad at you. I'm not sure how long a snake's memory is, but if somebody dropped me, I'd be wary of them for a bit.
  8. crash_reborn

    crash_reborn Elite Member

    check for mites

    hey - it could happen!

    my old redtail started hissing - as it turned out - he had contracted mites from a feeder rodent from the pet store!

    yes - snakes have "terrible twos" - but i would think its a more "rebellious young'n" kinda thing - it seems to me they start trying to test their bondaries - and will become quite content if they can get the best of you - as they have become dominant (in the case of soon to be large snakes - this can become an issue if not rectified at an early age)

    snakes will "learn" that if they hiss when you reach in to handle them - and you pull away and "give up" for the time - that if they dont WANT to be handled - all they have to do is his - and they win..

    my baby burm will hiss his little head off when i go to get hime out - bless his little heart though - he doesnt ever strike - he is starting to realize that his hissing has no effect on him comming out - cause im gonna get him out hiss or no hiss - so it has come to be that i may get a short sharp initial hiss - but he quickly gives up and grudgingly comes along

    loves it when hes actually out though - he is so curious about EVERYTHING

    my anaconda though - first day we got him - there was no hissing involved - just violent strickings - lashing out at anything that moved

    since that 1st day - the only thing he strikes at is food - and activley seeks his "time" with me - actually moving partly onto my hand when i reach in and he "IDs" his intruder

    i reward him with a chin rub which i have GOT to get pics of - he will sit there forever if you will use your fingertip to rub his chin - he holds his little head up - and flicks his tongue every now and then - if you stop - he waits a few seconds - completely still - hoping youll start again

    however - when he strikes his food - he COMMANDS respect - this snake is one of the fastest strikers ive seen - if he wanted to tag me - i would NOT be able to dodge it - as it has already happened by the time you realize what his intentions are...

    that hissing is from what ive experienced - the snake is testing its limits - and basically goung the "ill show YOU whos boss" route...
  9. Todd

    Todd Elite Member

    I agree that there could be a parasite infestation. Although we wouldnt want this to be the case, the hissing may be a symptom. Hissing usually means "don't bother me." The snake could be a little ill and just not want to be handled.

    I dont know if I agree with the aggression theory, however. While it's possible that it may be true, I would sooner keep and eye on the temps and humidity, and exchanging the bigger cage. I suggest that hissing can be a symptom, but many times, may be nothing. Sometimes snakes will forcefully breathe heavily through their nostrils versus opening their mouths and make a hissing noise. Breathing heavily enough for you to hear it with a closed mouth is obviously a bit different from it happening with the mouth open. Open mouths usually indicate "Hey, back off. I really dont feel like it today." But I would not necessarily say the same about "heavy breathing" in my own experience. Why? Because, in my experience, the contexts (in boas) for heavy breathing have always been absolutely non threatening and indicating of no problem. Whereas open mouthed hissing has indicated, "Stay back. Im about to shed and I'll be nice by not nipping at you."

    So, yes. These are testimonies on my part. And the context many differ from (sub)species to (sub)species, but hopefully that tidbit puts it more in a frame of reference. :)

    I havent encountered any evidence to make good assumption over the "terrible two" theory. I understand the semantics and the use of "terrible twos" as vernacular. However, if there are similarities in "unruley behavior" between human toddlers and snakes around the same age it is not for the same reason. Humans are given this same for specific physiological changes, whereas snakes are displying similar traits which earn them this nickname of "terrible twos." The characteristics are similar, but the root is different. This projection of personality traits onto snakes which make them out to be very people friendly in having good dispostions does not warrant treating them as a person. This reason is heavily responsbile for many attacks on people by larger snakes.

    Also, snakes do not operate from ego. Primal, defensive and instinctive - yes. Ego satisfaction from fending you off - no. Instances where they may seem to enjoy an attack or "win" in an attempt to handle them are personality traits that are attributed to them by the owner. At the same time, there are aggression issues that should be subdued with regular handling to ensure that you will not have a snake that turns aggressive as it gets larger. I would be more concerned with this being a danger with the bigger snakes in this regard, however. In the long and short, I agree that hissing CAN mean that a snake is testing its boundaries. Yet, there are distinctions to make.
  10. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    Snake mites are species specific so I doubt this is the case, it is more likely that you perhaps were in the same proximity as a snake with mites and your snake contracted them this way.
    Unless you have been in a shop, or near another reptile with mites, or perhaps bought some new substrate where mites have been living or have laid their eggs, it is unlikely that she has parasites Heather, but its always a good thing to keep a close eye on anyway.
    How many times has she hissed at you? Perhaps she was just having a couple of "off-days", or maybe you woke her up and upset her, or it could be the change of tank that has just thrown her off-balance slightly. Or maybe Duke has been brain-washing her... :D
  11. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Even though the mites were not being "hosted" by the mouse if the rodent came from somewhere that was infested with them they still could hitchhike in on it. It would be no different than them coming in on a bag or box or even your own clothing.
  12. Todd

    Todd Elite Member

    Agreed. Snake mites can only live for a short time if not within reach of a host snake. Yet, since they are practically invisible (esp the young ones), this makes it difficult to determine of they are really gone.

    Might I also add that my snakes contracted mites from a bait shop I go to where they ONLY carry fish bait, mice and rats. No reptiles, ever. I soon found out, however, that the store's rat supplier was a reptile breeder a few miles away, specializing in snakes, lizards and turtles, etc. I had no idea how my snakes contracted mites until I found out who the supplier was.
  13. Jem_Scout

    Jem_Scout Elite Member

    OK so...mites CAN be brought in on a mouse or rat.....
    How do they get into the bedding thats sealed in those big bales with plastic? Even if the bags are no where near the snakes?
    Snake mites can only live on snakes?
    So the mites that mice and rats get are a diff type of mite?
    I'm confused...again :p lol
    Explain plz?
  14. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    Mites are species specific, meaning that they only feed off one species, such as reptile mites. But they leave the host to lay their eggs, and can live for a short time off the host's body. They can travel long distances in which to find a new host or to leave their host to lay eggs, and so can be transported around by humans, or by other animals, or in bags of substrate etc,, if there is a way into a bag of substrate a mite may lay its eggs there and thats how they could be transported via that way. This is less likely than being transported by us or another animal however. Even if snakes are kept in different rooms it is possible that mites can be transferred, either by us touching the snakes without washing inbetween, or by the mites being carried on our clothes for example, or by travelling the distance themselves and laying their eggs somewhere near the other snake.

    Hope this clears things up for you a bit :)
  15. Todd

    Todd Elite Member

    Well said, Rach.
  16. Jem_Scout

    Jem_Scout Elite Member

    YIKES!! How do you ever get rid of them if so many things can help spread them around??

    OOPS! I gotta stop hijacking other peoples' threads! :p sorry!
  17. Microscope Jockey

    Microscope Jockey Elite Member

    Don't worry Jem, SOMEBODY hijacked it awhile back. Rose is not hissing due to mites.
  18. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    No i didn't think she would be.. gotta be the subliminal evil messages from Duke :p

    Jem - there are many ways to get rid of mites, we personally use a product called Frontline designed for fleas, mixed with alcohol for smaller snakes,. a lot of products carry a small risk of harming the snake, but i'd personally rather take that risk than the definate risk of the snake eventually dying from an infestation of mites - mites weaken the immune system, which often results in illness or infection. :)
  19. Jem_Scout

    Jem_Scout Elite Member

    Wait a minute! I use Frontline on my Dogs!
  20. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    Yes it's a product designed for use on fleas on cats and dogs. Works well,. there are other products and other ideas for treatment of mites, but we have always used frontline and it has worked well. When i was younger my corn once got mites and i used a no-pest strip, though they have now been deemed unsafe.
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