Can Snakes Bond with their owners

Discussion in 'General Reptile Discussion' started by LittleButterfly, Oct 29, 2019.

  1. LittleButterfly

    LittleButterfly Not so new Member

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    Hello all

    I have been absent from the forum for a while due to school and such. I am currently doing a research task for agriculture and I (unsurprisingly) am doing it on snakes.
    So I have a question,
    In your opinion, can snakes bond with their owners?
    Please give explanations and examples with your answers please.

    Cheers
     
  2. Shikito123

    Shikito123 Not so new Member

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    Hi.

    Absolutely. I have 4 snakes at the moment and they all know me from sight and smell. They act completely different when friends hold them or my sisters. They are all comfortable with me but when my sisters or a friend hold them their behavior changes. They smell them alot more, they fidget alot more and just look uncomfortable. This could also be due to the new person not being completely comfortable with the snake either however I have found the snakes behavior is like that with my sisters. Who are very comfortable holding snakes. At night when they are cruising around they stop to look at me so I'll open the door and they'll come out onto me. When my sisters do that, they arch up a little (even my puppy dog tame coastal). Watch some of New England reptile distributers (NERD) videos on YouTube. Kevin goes through alot of reptile behavior and all that stuff. Might be able to help you abit.

    I hope I've helped out a little. Good luck on your project! Sounds really cool!
     
  3. LittleButterfly

    LittleButterfly Not so new Member

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    Thanks for the input, my stimmie acts like that whenever someone else holds him but he's mainly chill when I handle him
     
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  4. -Adam-

    -Adam- Not so new Member

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    Interesting question. My opinion is that it depends on what your definition is of "bonding".

    On the surface I'd say yes - but with a strong cavet:

    I have seen snakes that make direction towards their owners when being handled by others. Whether this is because they're looking for / preferring a familiar scent and feel safer or whether the snake has a deeper attachment to the owner I have no idea but there is obviously something that makes the snake desire heading towards it's owner.

    I read an old post on this forum by one snake owner who said that he had a daily routine, and in the morning the dogs got a walk between a certain time, and then after that the snake was let out and handled - every morning. On the days where he didn't do this the snake got agitated around the time due for handling to the point where it would bang it's head on the glass.

    Snakes in captivity will have very different experiences to those in the wild. How this changes their behaviour, and how their natural instincts interpret this would be a very interesting study.

    I personally don't think that snakes have the same logic or reasoning as other bonding animals such as cats or dogs - but that's not to say that snakes don't prefer the familiarity or even maybe desire the experience they have with some of their owners. I think care is required that we don't Anthropomorphize. Being brought up on cartoons and TV shows that put human emotion and action onto animals has us living in a society that we too often try to associate animals with us and vise versa. (I would guess that organisations such as PETA are a direct result of this).

    We have animals in the same species as us (Mammals) that operate very differently to us - and then there's snakes which is a completely different species altogether. I think there is a familiarity where snakes will feel safer and get to know their owner - whether that is by scent or otherwise - but on what level one actually bonds and what "feelings" snakes have I have no idea. I suspect with snakes it's more a matter of conditioning of environment than it is anything emotional - although some snakes do appear to have some incredible personalities.
     
  5. GBWhite

    GBWhite Well-Known Member

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    Having been involved with and actively interested in snake behaviour in captivity and in the field for the past 50 + years this is my view on the subject of bonding.

    Snakes are very simple, primitive creature with a primitive brain. In fact the base of the human brain is referred to as the reptilian brain and is the source of where our human instinct of survival originated. Unlike humans and some animals they don't have the cognitive ability to recognize or express emotion.

    Snakes don't bond with their mate(s) or their off spring. They are only interested in survival and rely on the instincts they have developed over millenniums (and which has served them well) to exist and continue to exist to the present time. All snakes (including captives) maintain these instincts. They only need to be concerned with obtaining food, water & shelter, thermoregulation, the need to reproduce and the ability to react to a flight or fight situation. In fact having the emotional capability to "Bond" with their owner (or anything else for that matter) could very well be detrimental to their ability to exist.

    So you'd have to ask the question "What benefits would they gain by bonding with their owner (I prefer the term keeper)?". The answer is...none.

    In general they have very poor eyesight but do get to recognize their owners through scent recognition and once they realize that their keeper is no threat to their well being they tolerate interaction with them but they do not seek or crave it. All species of snake and individuals within species have different dispositions where some are naturally nervous while others are more tolerant. Those that do generate to the keeper in the presence of others do so because they are familiar with their scent and recognize them as a safe place to be. The same relates when returning them to their enclosure. But be assured if they are provided the opportunity to escape they won't hesitate to do so without any concern for their owner what so ever.

    They will explore new enclosures and cage furnishings out of curiosity as a means to determine if their is any threat to their well being and/or traces of food.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2019
  6. Sdaji

    Sdaji Almost Legendary

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    In my decades of playing with snakes and snake people, I've seen plenty of cases of folks wanting so much to believe that their snakes bond with them that they imagine it to be so.

    I've seen many cases of people swearing a snake has bonded with someone or likes someone when the reality is obviously different. Inexperienced keepers who are just learning to handle snakes properly often notice that the snake seems to have accepted them and seems far more comfortable when they hold the snake than when they first got their snake. In reality, the snake just feels comfortable because the person is holding the snake comfortably. These people often think snakes immediately love me because they are comfortable with me despite being visibly uncomfortable with their other friends. In reality it's just that I have decades of experience holding snakes while their other friends don't.

    I've never known a python to genuinely bond with any particular person. They can associate people with feed but not really recognise particular people. If they did recognise a person's smell or something they'd just be associating that smell with an associated thing, but having a fondness for a small because of an association with prey is no more 'bonding' than a snake associating the smell of egg shells and bird nests with a feed as bonding to bird nests.

    I have seen cases of possible recognition and fondness of individual people in the most intelligent species of snakes such as Taipans, but even then I'm not entirely sure. I've definitely seen cases of lizards and tortoises being very fond of humans, but not bonding with particular individual humans.

    People believe what they want to be true far more than what evidence/reality tells them to, and that's almost impossible to change. If someone believes their pet loves them they'll find any way possible to justify that belief, and hey, just try to convince them otherwise!
     
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  7. Flaviemys purvisi

    Flaviemys purvisi Very Well-Known Member

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    In one word... "Anthropomorphism"
     
  8. CF Constrictor

    CF Constrictor New Member

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    I don't know, my coastal seems to have bonded with my feet. Every time i take him outside for a slither in the grass ( or to do number 2s , he's toilet trained you see ) he seems to like climbing over my feet, sometimes over and over again. He usualy dosn't wander to far away from me infact he seems to start heading in one direction then turns around and comes back, climbs over my feet then heads in another direction , then returns to do it again. Seriously who realy knows . i just know ive bonded with him either way.
     
  9. Sdaji

    Sdaji Almost Legendary

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    Putting a snake outside on the ground, exposed in the open during the day is a terrifying experience for it. Especially captive snake which spend most of their lives safe in an enclosed space, to suddenly be in such an unnatural and extremely dangerous situation is likely to make them appear to bond with anything familiar or any form of shelter. It's a little like saying a snake kept in a large enclosure has bonded with its hide box or basking spot.

    Incidentally, get any snake which has never been outside before, take it outside and put it on the ground and it will probably crap. It's the same thing which makes snakes crap immediately after you clean the enclosure and put it back in. No training involved or required, it's just how snakes are :)
     
  10. CF Constrictor

    CF Constrictor New Member

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    Yep , you could be right. But this particular coastal i've had for over 2 1/2 years WILL NOT poo in his enclosure . AT ALL ! I have 3 carpets all up and make a point of taking each of them outside around 7 days after feeding. The other 2 practicaly never poo outside , but this 1 dose it every time and even seems to wait for me to take him outside, even if im a few days late he holds onto it untill hes on the lawn. My snakes are used to spending time outside as i take them out regularly and i have an aviary out the back for them to use during spring , summer. The first few times i had them out in the open during the day they were obviously scared but have become quit at eze with it . Infact they usualy seem to enjoy it.
     
  11. Sdaji

    Sdaji Almost Legendary

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    Sincere apologies, I didn't realise you had 3 pythons. No doubt you're an expert who knows everything, including how to train pythons and make them form emotional bonds with feet. Carry on.
     
  12. CF Constrictor

    CF Constrictor New Member

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    No Please accept my apology . Im not an expert at anything. I just didn't realize you were mate.
     
  13. Vanessa Gummow

    Vanessa Gummow New Member

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    I can tell you that my fiance' and I have three cats one dog bull mastive and two diamond pythons. It could be nothing but pharamones that Juicy and Russel-The-Love-Muscle (our diamonds) can smell, but Mini Puss a most upperty cat, quite unfriendly to nearly any other being, except me and ESPECIALLY my partner even her own children. BUT, (AND I WAS EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS FROM START) She ABSOLUTELY LOVES the snakes. Medusa is pregnant I've recently learned. And Juicy will happily chill with Mini Puss (who I did not even know could Purr,!) Where as she will (quite smartly) dart away from Torany our other cat. I'll post a pic montagne
     
  14. -Adam-

    -Adam- Not so new Member

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    Not sure what to make out of this one...

    (Before flaming me, please don't shoot the messenger - the below is the coronor's report, not mine. I have doubts on the finding myself - I post it here as it's on topic, and may be of interest for the OP's agriculture study if for no other reason to show the vast differences in opinions or misunderstandings in professional industries about snakes behaviour).

    But apparently a coroner has ruled that snakes can be affectionate towards their owner, at least that's the ruling as to why Dan Brandon's snake killed him:

    "He made clear he did not believe the snake had been aggressive towards its owner, but the most likely scenario was that the reptile had been coiling around him in an affectionate way," (emphasis mine)​
     
  15. Flaviemys purvisi

    Flaviemys purvisi Very Well-Known Member

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    That.. is complete and utter BS.
     
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  16. Herptology

    Herptology Well-Known Member

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    Ah yes very affectionate
    --- Automatic Post Merged, Nov 3, 2019, Original Post Date: Nov 3, 2019 ---
    I wouldn’t put my snakes even In the same room as my cats if I were you...

    Cats tend to like to “play” with animals before killing them and a single bite or “attack” will be nighty night to the snake

    Or if the snake decides to coil around your cat, it will have no issue stoping the cats breathing..

    This comes from someone who loves cats and snakes
     
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  17. GBWhite

    GBWhite Well-Known Member

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    Typical comment from someone ignorant of snake behaviour. Stupid, stupid, uneducated assumption by the coroner.
     
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  18. nuttylizardguy

    nuttylizardguy Active Member

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    1) can reptiles bond with their keeper ? - yes - in so far as recognizing them and knowing they are the one who provides them with food, water, and takes away the smelly stuff , and they can learn they are safe when on them / to trust them ( usually , ie the keeper is their safe place when out of their tank ).
    Do they love their keeper ? not sure but they do seem to enjoy the body heat.

    2) cats and reptiles - anyone who lets a cat anywhere near their reptile is an idiot.
    Cats are hardwired to kill and enjoy torturing their victims (every cat will do it given the chance).
    It only takes one bite or scratch from a cat to be very bad for the reptile ( very nasty viruses and bacteria on cat fangs and cat claws ).
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
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  19. GBWhite

    GBWhite Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, that's not bonding that's dependency. Definition - "Dependency happens when you can't function without the help of someone or something".
     
  20. -Adam-

    -Adam- Not so new Member

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    Which is what I expected, and find kinda scary. The coroner's findings are often used in future as evidence for change in policies, etc. I know of another finding where I have strong doubts about a coroners finding but again, a similar situation in that it is a specialty area that the coroner had no experience in although I have a lot of experience in, where I feel more qualified than this one to make a judgement. This leaves me wondering on how many occasions do the coroners get it wrong, and on how many occasions does that have roll-on effects that affect other people's lives unnecessarily.
     
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