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Snake Taming Question

Discussion in 'Rosy Boas & Sand Boas' started by Niko12, May 15, 2016.

  1. Niko12

    Niko12 New Member

    So I recently inherited (er...stole?) a Kenyan Sand Boa from my brother's crazy girlfriend. He (the snake not my brother) was being neglected pretty badly, so I stepped in. Though she showed interest when she first got him, she quickly lost it. She stopped handling him, kept him in a smaller tank even as he grew, and eventually my brother was the one who fed the snake. She just ignored it. Needless to say, poor Louie has become a very anxious and frightened snake.

    I have since moved him into a larger tank with more sand and he has become somewhat happier. My biggest problem is that he cannot handle being held or picked up anymore when he used to love it.

    I've had and worked with snakes before so I know how to handle and care for them. However this will be my first time trying to retrain a snake. I've already bought a new pair of lightweight gardening gloves that are currently residing inside the tank with Louie and after he gets used to their presence I'm going to use them to handle him until he learns that I'm not going to hurt him.

    My question is this, when he bites me, which he inevitably will, do I let him hold on until he feels safe, or pry his mouth off immediately?

    While I don't want him thinking it's okay to bite me, I also don't want to make him any more stressed out. The poor thing has dealt with enough.
  2. Qwerty3159

    Qwerty3159 Elite Member

    If he's anxious around you forcibly restraining him will make it worse. You're better off taking things slow and letting him get used to you. It will take time.

    As for if he bites you, ideally you shouldn't pry him off or you risk damaging his jaws or teeth which won't help anything. If you're lucky he'll let go if he realizes you aren't food but if not you can run cold water over his body and head which will make him let go.
  3. Nuga-boa

    Nuga-boa New Member

    I had a similar issue with a sand boa once and am currently in the process of taming down a carpet. I would invest in a snake hook. You can get some pretty decent deals online. The hook won't have a heat signature and it makes it a lot easier to get them out.

    As far as the taming itself goes, I've had luck with gradually moving from gloves to bare hands. It is very possible that he will bite you, but what always freaks me out is the speed of their strike.
  4. Niko12

    Niko12 New Member

    The gloves to bare hands transition was the plan. And he's bitten me before so I know I can handle it.
  5. Niko12

    Niko12 New Member

    The water isn't one I've heard of and super helpful, thank you. I don't plan to be too forceful, but we need to start somewhere and it will stress him out in the beginning no matter what I do.
  6. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, most snakes are for the most part deaf, talking to them would be like talking to a brick wall.... ;)
    Qwerty3159 likes this.
  7. Niko12

    Niko12 New Member

    I took him out for the first time since this whole thing began. He snapped at one of my hands but didn't actually bite down. Once out of the tank, he panicked for a few seconds thinking he needed to get away. I kept a loose hold, letting him move but only to twist around my hands. After a while he calmed and started to explore me. Held him for about 10 minutes without incident .

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  8. toddnbecka

    toddnbecka Well Established Member

    My female everglades rat snake was about a year old when I got her. Not accustomed to being handled, she never tried to bite but acted very flighty. Over time she has calmed down, and though she still musks occasionally she does calm down rather quickly when picked up now. Less inclined to dive for cover when the top is taken off her tank now too, though she will move to avoid contact if she doesn't see food in hand. Short handling times are best at first, 10 minutes is actually longer than I typically handle most of my active snakes.
    My female thayeri king snake has tried to eat a finger on several occasions, not struck or bitten defensively, actually latched on and started trying to swallow. I did have to run cold water over her one time to get her to let go, though usually she figures it out on her own. I'm hoping she outgrows that behavior before her teeth are actually big enough to hurt, lol.
  9. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    Sounds like your on the right track already. Keep the sessions short at first, the gradually increase the time as things progress. And make sure it is well fed, a snake that hasn't been handled much or at all can start to think that anything that moves is likely to be food. That could be why it is taking a poke at you when you get it out.

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