Despite the fact that some snakes have been housed and captive-bred for generations, they are not considered domesticated. Domesticated animals are those that have genetically changed to be predisposed to living with humans.
Domesticated animals generally have higher intelligence than snakes, allowing their brains to be more malleable to lifestyle changes.
Snakes don’t appear to have any wants other than their natural animalistic inclinations and fundamental emotions; thus, they can’t be maintained as anything more than a “captive” pet.
Domesticated Snakes vs Tamed Snakes
Snakes can neither be domesticated or tamed. Domestication occurs when an animal species has been in captivity long enough that they are genetically predisposed to living comfortably with humans. Tamed animals are animals that are taken from the wild (usually at a very young age) and taught to live with humans (against its instincts).
Examples of domesticated animals include dogs, cats, sheep, cows, and horses, who have been bred in captivity for generations. They’re born with a genetic comfort around humans.
Examples of tamed animals include brumbies (wild horses) who have been ‘broken in’, and wild bears and elephants who used to perform in circuses.
Whether a snake is born in captivity or captured, it will neither become tamed or domesticated. This is probably because their animal instincts are too strong and they cannot be ‘trained’ out of their instinctual behaviors. Frankly, they’re stubborn!
Is It Possible To Domesticate Snakes?
Domesticated animals live in captivity with people happily and without suffering if given the proper care and surroundings. Snakes do not appear to have changed like this and do not truly live in harmony with humans.
Domestic animals are generally bred for specific purposes, such as food, companionship, or working alongside people as helping hands. Humans have made domestic animals to be so different from their wild forebears that they are not typically equipped to exist without the support and help of people.
However, that’s not always the case with snakes that are sold as pets or captured in their native habitats. Even captive-born snakes are distrustful animals that dislike being handled, stroked, petted, or handed about. Snakes will not cuddle their owners and cannot be trained. It stresses them out and puts them at risk of sickness and depression, and because they don’t groan or screech, you might not know they’re in agony.
Related: Do Snakes Like Being Petted?
In addition, there is no confined setting that can match to a snake’s natural habitat. There is no way to duplicate the freedom that snakes enjoy in their native environment in a house. Regardless of whether the snake is captive-bred or wild-caught, snakes in captivity suffer.
These sophisticated animals warm themselves in the sun, dig underground, swim, climb trees, and move vast distances in their native environments. All of these natural behaviors are hard to replicate in inside tight, lonely glass terrariums.
They have unique requirements that are virtually hard to satisfy in captivity. Snakes require a wide range of lights, exact humidity levels and temperatures, feeding schedules and precise diets, and plenty of room. They require space to stretch out and travel in search of food, much like people and other pets.
According to one piece of research, 89 percent captive snakes lack a proper habitat. Hence, 75% of pet reptiles, including snakes, perish each a year, many due to stress caused by confinement. This demonstrates how challenging it is to fulfill their varied requirements in captivity.
Can a Snakes be Tamed?
Snakes are naturally aggressive creatures. The fundamentals of snake taming mostly entail deprogramming that inherent ferocity. Most snakes do become more calm with human contact, but nowhere near the same extent as dogs or cats. Some species are also inherently less defensive on the whole than others.
Taming is merely a process of habituating an animal to human presence and handling. It is very simple, but it does require time and patience, especially if the snake is wild and hostile.
Snakes, unlike dogs or other pets, will never be completely tamed. They can be acclimated to human contact, but that’s about it. That being said, they may undoubtedly become used to life in captivity and the owner, and their behavior will alter as a result.
Note: Keeping something in a cage does not make it domesticated.
The way you treat your snake has a big impact on its longevity in captivity. You’ll need to defuse two instinctive violent impulses: the territorial reaction and the feeding response.
Can Snakes Become Docile in Captivity?
When it comes to having a pet, there is some attraction in teaching them interesting skills and bonding with them via that experience. Unfortunately, you can’t expect your pet snake to learn how to sit, roll over, or come when called, but snakes can do certain things.
Snakes cannot be made docile in the same way that a dog or cat can. They lack the mental ability required to learn how to do stunts. They also can’t distinguish between orders since they can’t hear human speech well enough. However, they may be educated to identify feeding and handling times by recognizing when a simple visual or tactile signal leads to a predictable response.
Some snakes are more docile than others. A corn snake could be more comfortable around humans than a green tree python, for example. However, it can also depend on the snake’s breeding. Captive-bred snakes tend to be more docile than snakes caught in the wild, as they have been around people all their lives.
Unfortunately, because snakes have a simpler brain structure than mammals and birds, they are unable to change much at all. They have also not been observed responding to clear human orders.
But, they can and do adapt to new habitats or diets, and they can learn when they will be fed. They can also be certain that you, their owner, have no ill will against them. This means less protective behavior and fewer snake bites.
In the end, snakes of all kinds are NOT domestic animals. Many of them are not even tame. When you have a pet snake, keep in mind that these species still have natural survival instincts. They will do everything to live, such as drop their tail, bite, snap, hiss at you, and even defecate and urinate on you!
Although individual pet snakes can become fond of and accustomed to humans, they have not been reared in captivity for many generations. They have not been altered from their wild condition to suit people’s requirements. A snake that enjoys human company has become tamer and more docile than domesticated.
Joe is a freelance writer for FaunaFacts. Joe has written extensively about snakes for the site, but also contributes content about a range of animals.