In general, snakes do not like being petted. Nonetheless, some species are more adaptable to handling than others. Corn snakes, for example, are frequently suggested for beginners because of their ease of handling and maintenance.
Most snakes grow more relaxed as they age and will accept handling better as adults. Juvenile snakes might not be quite as comfortable with handling.
Some snakes can become quite agitated when handled by a stranger. This is most likely not because they identify their owner but because they are accustomed to being treated in a specific manner. Strangers are unlikely to treat the snake the same way the owner does. Additionally, hungry snakes are unlikely to enjoy being handled.
How to Tell if a Snake Is Uncomfortable?
A snake may grow agitated when handled. This is especially true for young snakes or snakes that haven’t been domesticated.
Some of the signs that show a snake is uncomfortable include:
- It may form an ‘S’ shape with its body.
- It could hiss.
- It might impersonate a strike.
- It has the potential to attack and bite you.
- It could try to get away from you.
- It may swiftly restrict its stomach, indicating anxiety.
Some people think that a snake squeezing your arm is a sign of anguish. Others believe it is a way for a snake to feel safer when you are holding it. Whatever the case may be, you must spend time getting to know the snake so that you can detect when it is not at ease.
If you observe the snake becoming agitated, cage it and avoid handling it for a few days. It would be best if you still allowed it to see you from inside its safe environment.
Related: Are Snakes Friendly?
How To Make A Snake Get Used To Being Handled?
Snakes are unique, cool, and collected creatures, but they also experience shock. Therefore, you must introduce handling consistently and gradually. Depending on the snake, you may want to begin with once or twice a week and gradually increase to three or four times per week.
Some of the ways in which you can help a snake get used to being petted include;
Give the snake some room. Snakes require time to acclimatize after a relocation. Allow it to adjust to its new surroundings and do not rush to introduce it to other people and pets.
Allow it to eat first. It’s advisable to practice handling your new pet after it has had its first meal.
Consider its age. Younger snakes are more high-strung, but this varies by species. Corn snakes, in particular, are a little angrier when they are young. Learn about the developmental stage of your snake. If the snake is still young, take care not to anger it.
Handle the snake just once or twice a week. Snakes are not cuddly animals. They enjoy their privacy. It would be best to prepare for frequent handling once some time has passed and they have gotten accustomed to being picked up three or four times a month. They simply need to feel at ease with you initially.
Have fun with active snakes. Once the snake becomes more accustomed to being handled, they may enjoy playing games in a relaxed, take-it-or-leave-it atmosphere. Allow them to swim in a shallow pool or play hide-and-seek in their tank. Active snakes appreciate this, while others do not, so make sure you know the snake’s preferences.
Make sure the vivarium has lots of hiding spots. It provides the snake with areas to hide if it feels worried or agitated. You may even put your hand inside the cage to shift things around. Some snake owners advocate touching the snake’s bedding before putting it in the vivarium so it can smell you all the time.
Related: Do Snakes Cuddle?
Will a Snake Settle Down over Time?
Some snakes are easier to get settled than others. Because certain snake species are more naturally docile than others, a corn snake may be more easy to acclimatize to people than a green tree python.
The snakes’ breeding may also determine it. Captive-bred snakes are more docile than wild-caught snakes since they have spent their whole lives around humans.
Another thing to look out for is the snake’s stress levels. Snakes that are stressed will not always respond the way you expect them to. Even normally, placid snakes can get agitated and lash out if they are sick or in pain. Additionally, stressed snakes tend to starve themselves to death. It is estimated that 75% of all captive snakes die each year.
Related: Can Snakes be Trained?
Do Snakes have a Preferred way to be Petted?
Snakes do show a ‘preference’ for one kind of handling or another. Ball pythons, for example, are famous for not liking to have their heads touched.
Some also prefer to be handled less than others. I’ve also seen some who have a favorite place to rest on a person and even preferred ways to be held.
I don’t think this means that they like being petted, but they do get familiar with some ways of being handled more than others.
Some snakes don’t even want to be handled at all. It’s not your fault if the pet snake doesn’t want to be petted. Snakes do not need compassion or empathy and don’t exhibit it either.
Even if a snake cannot sense a link with you, you may still develop a relationship with it. This will require consistent handling. You may spend time with it in various ways after it is comfortable being out of its vivarium with you. For example, you may place it on your lap while reading a book.
Related: Can Snakes be Domesticated?
Snakes do not exhibit feelings such as love or joy. They do not show the same level of owner bonding as a cat or a dog. However, just because there haven’t been many studies on the issue doesn’t imply they don’t experience it to some level. They likely do but on a much lower level. Even though most experts believe this is implausible.
Some snakes dislike having the top of their heads touched. Most Ball Pythons, for example, will become scared and aggressive if their heads or necks are touched. As a result, how tolerant a snake is might vary depending on where it is held.
Snakes make excellent pets. They don’t require much care; in fact, certain snakes, like the Ball python, only require feeding every two weeks and they are fun to watch. They do not need or desire human companionship or touch, but some can accept it. Always keep an eye on the snake when you’re handling it for signals that it would rather be alone in the cage.
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.