Snakes do not recognize their owners. Not in the same sense as dogs do. While snakes are “smart” creatures, they are not a smart as dogs or pigs.
Instead, snakes have a powerful sense of smell. They recognize the owners through scent, and they understand the human’s role in their lives.
Do Snakes Bond With Their Owners?
No, snakes do not bond with their owners. Since they are not social animals, they did not evolve to bond with anything at all. Instead, they rely mostly on their instincts.
They hunt food, bask under the sun, rest, and determine danger around them. For example, a snake can smell the scent of its owner and begin to understand that humans equal food. Not that the human is food, but that the human brings food.
Reptiles retained their primitive characteristics. In addition, they are not social animals like dogs. They do not recognize their owners as buddies, but they decide whether the owner is a threat or not.
What happens here is nothing more than classical conditioning. It is a process where an animal associates a stimulus to an event. It first came about when a Russian psychologist, Ivan Pavlov, experimented on dogs.
The dogs salivated in response to the sound of a bell. Before feeding the dogs, Ivan sounded the bell. After a while, the dogs thought the food was coming whenever the bell rang.
Snakes do the same. Snakes do not bond with owners but will eventually feel safe around a human. They behave and do not get so aggressive if they know the owner’s scent.
However, one must never think of it as bonding. Since snakes still have a primitive mind, they will strike at anyone, including the owner, at any sign of threat. It is the very reason people will never recommend getting a venomous snake as a pet.
Do Snakes Recognize Humans?
Snakes recognize different scents. However, there is a never-ending debate about whether snakes can differentiate humans at all. Some pet snake owners insist that their snake can recognize them, however, no study has proved this.
Since pet snake owners adore what they have, they look for behavior to “prove” that their pets recognize them.
While snakes can recognize things, it is unknown if they have the same recognition or memory as dogs or elephants. Many people want to believe that they do, but there is no substantial evidence to back this up.
Other animals can recognize faces. One test that determines animal intelligence is the mirror test. If an animal can recognize itself in a mirror, then it has a high level of sentience. Unfortunately, the snake is not one of those animals that passed this test.
Do Snakes Like To Be Petted?
Snakes do not like being petted. Snakes are instinctive creatures and do not like being handled. Some owners believe that their snakes enjoy being petted, but this is simply the snake building up a tolerance to it.
Snakes don’t bond with anything. They are instinctive creatures. As such, they do not like being handled. Surely, snakes the grew in captivity could develop a tolerance for it. Again, it has something to do with conditioning.
If a pet owner pets the snake before the food arrives, the pet will eventually put these two events together. Being petted equals food, and the snake would be docile over time.
Can Snakes Learn Their Names?
No, snakes cannot learn their name. Snakes have some level of intelligence, but not enough to distinguish a specific sound and associate it with themselves.
For example, snakes could learn how to protect their territories. They could also understand cues. However, their ability to learn is minimal.
While snakes are not deaf, they cannot process sound in terms of memory. They can hear through air and ground vibrations, but their responses to these are spontaneous.
Some owners would say that their pet snakes respond to their names. This claim, of course, is nothing more than coincidence.
Again, pet owners are subject to confirmation bias. It is a thought process where a person looks for things that would support his idea. For example, a person who believes that the snake recognizes its name would look for behaviors supporting it.
This person would call the snake, and if the snake flicks its tongue out, the person will see that as evidence of name recognition. As far as science is concerned, it is not the right way to deduce facts.
Do Snakes Attack Their Owners?
Yes, snakes attack their owners. Even expert keepers get bitten by snakes who feel threatened. Snakes are instinctive creatures and will strike anything they feel is a threat if they are backed into a corner.
In Florida, the python problem came from owners who got scared when their pythons got big enough. So they disposed of the pythons, and now Florida has an infestation.
Nearly a hundred thousand Burmese pythons came to the United States illegally. There are many pet owners who do not understand the working of a snake’s instinct.
In 2004, a man named Phillip Cyrus got a four-foot python. His kids also enjoyed the presence of the snake. The python grew, and in four years, she almost quadrupled in size.
In 2008, the python got out of its cage, and the python found its way in the bedroom of one of the kids. The python squeezed on the kid, and she was lucky that her father heard her.
The father took a knife from the kitchen and killed it. There are also reports from 911 where the owners were panicking as their pythons attacked them.
Do Snakes Protect Their Owners?
No, snakes do not protect their owners. They do not behave like guard dogs that have a bond with the family. Snakes are instinctive, and they only get docile around humans because they understand that the human owner is safe to be around.
Summary: Do Snakes Know Their Owners?
Snakes are wonderful creatures. They do well as pets, but only if the pet owner knows what he is doing. Pet snakes do not recognize their owners as dogs do. They do not have the brain to become as intelligent as other mammals.
Snakes do not recognize their names. While snakes can differentiate humans from their scents, they do not “remember” these humans in terms of identification.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.