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First Bite! Help...

Discussion in 'Reticulated Pythons' started by wolfy, Oct 15, 2009.

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  1. wolfy

    wolfy New Member

    Hello everyone!! wonderful site by the way. decided it was time to become a member.

    i have had ball pythons, cornsnakes, and boas for years, and finally decided to get a retic.

    I purchased a reticulated python almost 2 months ago (good breeder), she's almost four months old now. it's a very odd story, but I;m trying to pin down why she bit me..

    I considered myself very lucky with her, she was sweet as pie from the moment I touched her. I gave her her acclimating time, then took her out often, and she was wonderful, she was curious but very calm, and would curl up with me while I sat reading for hours. I made sure I didn't overload her and gradually increased her time out. she would become rather agitated somedays, and be squirming around, so id just put her back for some alone time.

    well the power was out for about 12 hours, so I put temporary heat pads in all the snakes' cages. i wash my hands obsessively inbetween. snakes. i took my retic out last night and put her pad in. this morning the power was back on, so I pulled her out. i have to admit she is close to becoming my favourite and gets handled first.
    she ate a week ago
    she shed almost 2 weeks ago, and I was double checking her for burns and saw a piece of shed near her tail. walked out the the kitchen, she was calm. wet my hand and gave her a short soak. she was calm. i was holding her just looking her over and she bit me. i dropped her (i know im sorry!!) about 3 inches into the sink id been holding her over. i washed my hands and was walking towards the sink and she kept striking at anything. i threw a dishtowel over her, and she kept striking that. so I grabbed her head and very gentle put her back in her cage. she continued to strike at my hand as I pulled away, and at the glass towards me. i covered her cage with a blanket, and now near 12 hours later I peeked under the blanket and she came out and kept striking.

    i'm confused as to what may have caused this sudden extreme change. i know retics are more aggressive, but am concerned about how her bites will be so much worse later on.. also.. ive heard it referred to as the puberty phase, in retics. whatever info you may know, please tell me incase I dont!!

    also, i'm apprehensive about her now.. im suspicious that shell be more... "ok" with biting me now that she has drawn blood.. i saw no warning signs, no retreating, no aggravation. anything you have to say on retics, biting, or anything, please do. also, how should I treat her from now on? i hope someone may shed some light on what I did to get my first bite!! thank you so much.
  2. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Bites happen. It's kind of an occupational hazard. Sometimes there is a definite reason (maybe you smelled like a rat) and other times, it will happen for random reasons none of us warm-blooded creatures could fathom.

    Just asking: You are aware of exactly how big an adult retic can get, and what you will need to provide for it?
  3. Snakelings

    Snakelings Well-Known Member

    There were probably several factors to this happening.

    Retics are incredibly hungry animals. They would probably eat themselves to death if you gave them that opportunity. I have a 15+ ft, 62lb 3 year old Tiger Retic, and she is not aggressive at all by any means. For as long as we have had her, she hasn't aggressively struck at either me or my husband. However, when she was baby (until she was about 2), if she was hungry sometimes she would fly out of her cage with her mouth open looking for food. Thankfully, she outgrew it. It is possible that your snake was behaving out of hunger. However, I don't really believe that is the case (but it's a possibility).

    Chances are, she gave you warning signs, even if you didn't see them.
    I have a boa that used to have digestive problems as a baby (constantly constipated!). One day I was messing with her tail (looking for shed, ironically enough) and she yanked it away from me. I kinda shrugged it off and went back to messing with her tail and she nailed me for it. I realized my mistake and acknowledged that she must've been uncomfortable from constipation, ended up soaking her and she pooed and the whole mess was solved. However, I am more conscious of when she warns me though, because she is not afraid to bite, apparently.

    Realistically, snakes don't just strike for no reason.

    So my guess (based on my own observations of snake behavior and psychology) is that this is what happened:
    She was giving you some subtle warning signs about not wanting to be messed with, you didn't recognize them, so she popped you one to get her point across. You dropped her, and that set her off. She went from agitated to ****ed off. She went from being uncomfortable in the situation, to being very upset and uncomfortable about the situation. Snakes have incredible memories, so I wouldn't be surprised if she holds a grudge for a few days (or weeks even... had a burm hold a 3 month grudge against my husband once for giving her away to his friend... the friend had to give her back to us because she wasn't having it).

    Anyway, here's the biggest problem with what just happened - you gave her power. She could tell that you were freaked out by her behavior. She knows she has you scared and apprehensive, and she will use that to try to control you and how you handle her (or not handle her). Every person I know that has problems with having "aggressive" snakes is afraid of being bitten. I have taken in many of these supposedly "aggressive" snakes, and never had problems with them at all. Why? Because I am not afraid of being bitten. If a baby snake wants to bite me I let them because I would prefer that they learn that biting doesn't get their way while their heads are still an inch long. I will hold a biting snake until it is done biting me. When it stops freaking out and calms down, then I put it away. That way the snake learns that being aggressive does not get it what it wants, but being a tame, docile, and relaxed will. If a snake gets it's way by being aggressive, it will continue to act aggressive in order to be left alone. The method I use for taming snakes has worked for me for several different species of snake.

    My advice is to give her a couple of days to cool off, and give yourself a couple of days to chill out. When you go back into her cage, be cool, calm, and confident. Don't be afraid of being bitten, because they can tell when your pulse and blood pressure are elevated. Go in, tap her on the head lightly (I use my hands, but my husband usually used an empty paper towel roll for our retic when she was a baby) and then pick her up about 4-6 inches behind her head, and of course further down the body to support the rest of her body mass. Retics, in general, hate hate hate having their heads grabbed at (they are the only species of snake that I have worked with that is obstinate about being head shy). Also, one thing to look out for in retics is body bumping. They will shrug you off if they don't want to be touched or messed with. If you are not confident with handling a moody snake, that's a good warning sign. However, it's a habit you don't want to give them too much power with. You don't want a 20' long snake at 150-200 lbs telling you want to do. Unless my retic is shedding or digesting, I usually take her out anyway (unless you are confident, I don't recommend it).

    Anyway, good luck. I know a lot of people who have had experiences like this and never been able to work through them because they were afraid of the animal after they got bitten. In fact, I just got given a snow corn snake today that was supposedly a "vicious monster" to her previous owner (who ended up becoming terrified of her), but is realistically perfectly calm and tame.
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Excellent advice! I agree wholeheartedly!
    I would also add that when you do go to handle again that your movements be calm, slow and deliberate. No sudden twitches or movements that might startle the snake.
    Being bitten is always a shock to new keepers but it is going to happen eventually.
  5. MoogleBass

    MoogleBass Kittes are so nice! Premium Member

    Keep some whiskey near by. That's my advice. lol
  6. GeckoGod

    GeckoGod Active Member

    Especially when she's bigger!
    I've used that method a few times. really works!
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