Handling my snappy python!

Discussion in 'Herp Help' started by jessjary, Sep 6, 2012.

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  1. jessjary

    jessjary Not so new Member

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    I posted earlier today about how my python is notoriously aggressive, I was just told by a neighbour who owned snakes that I have to pick diablo up and hold him for over 45 minutes at a time regardless of how many times he bites me so he gets used to me....

    wont that just freak the living daylights out of him?

    whats the best thing to do when handling a snappy python and what can I use to get him used to me? pillow cases on my arms? gardening gloves? rubber gloves? or just really clean hands?

    how long should I hold him for?
     
  2. Ralphee

    Ralphee Not so new Member

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    Give it a couple mins and the more experienced will jump in here.
    In the mean time, my limit experience - i have a Coastal Carpet who i thought just hated me, i made a 'hook' so i could get him out of the enclosure and now i only use it too lift his head and then sit him on my hand. Once he is on my hand he is fine, but if i reach in to get him, he is snappy (now i put him on my hand while still in the enclosure and in contact with his surroundings)
    It is fairly easy to see when they are going to strike, so i would use the hook to 'break' the strike position - lift him near the head, a couple inches back, so he can't actually strike - although he does over strike and fall down occassionally.
    Works for me and he is calming down alot, we both need to learn to get used to each other :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  3. Raymonde

    Raymonde Active Member

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    For those who are going to ask for more details on the setup, jessjary has provided more details in her other thread, http://www.aussiepythons.com/forum/herp-help-38/overly-aggressive-python-191969/

    The reason your neighbour has suggested that you should hold for over 45mins regardless of biting is because every time he bites you and you put him back you are teaching him that by biting you he can get what he wants which is to go back to his enclosure. I am not sure i agree with that length of time but i understand the reasoning behind the suggestion.

    I have been lucky and neither of my snakes bite (except my woma when hungry) so i am not sure how best to deal with that. However my bredli gets scared easily and startles every time i touch her, and i have been trying to increase her tolerance and teach her that people are not scary or dangerous by regularly touching and handling in small doses, working my way up to longer sessions. Anyway if it was me, i would start with short sessions and then slowly work up to longer sessions. The important thing would be to not put diablo back straight after he bites you (which may be difficult if he is biting a lot).
     
  4. sharky

    sharky Very Well-Known Member

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    handle him for 45 minutes if you want him to stress out and lose body heat :rolleyes: Please do not follow this advice :( I did with my first python and he refused to eat because he was too stressed :(

    handle him for a few minutes with a snake hook. Don't freak out if he bites you, you'll scare him and he'll be keen on biting more. Don't shy away from him when he bites, he'll start to think he can do whatever he wants by biting. Every few days or a week start to handle him a little bit longer say start at 2-3 minutes then move to five, etc, etc. Right now you are just trying to get him used to you. Short periods of handling rather than long ones. Long ones will only stress out poor Diablo
     
  5. jessjary

    jessjary Not so new Member

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    thanks everyone. appreciate the help. ill invest in some cotton gloves and leave them in the tank with him so he gets used to them so when I go to take him out he wont freak as much coz not only will he be used to the smell but the fabric too :)
     
  6. solar 17

    solar 17 Guest

    Personally l think gloves are the wrong way to go....l believe getting any snappy snake out of its enclosure with gloves or bare hands is about the same as me turfing you out of bed at 3.30 am sunday not much is going to change especially everyones attitude........my suggestion get a snake hook a size "you" are comfortable with, walk around thhe house with it on your hook and put it back and "progress SLOWLY" from there and learn to manage your feelings at the same time from there.......solar 17 (baden)
     
  7. Gloves are a bad move. The snake's behaviour should be telling you something... it doesn't like being handled! At least a big part of that may be because you are not confident with the animal... something I've seen many times when novices are nervous. Confident handlers rarely have problems because they have learned to "read" their animals and deal with them appropriately at the time. If you can, get someone who knows snakes and is conversant with snake behaviour, to have a look at the animal in its home, and then have them take it out and see how it behaves.

    When anyone suggests gloves as the way to go, it is obvious that they lack confidence, and as a consequence, there is little progress with the relationship.

    Although it's not common, there is also the possibility that the snake is just one which doesn't like being handled... period. They are all individuals, most are reasonably compliant, but some just don't like us, and if that's the case, that's just the way it will be. The suggestion that returning it to the cage is rewarding bad behaviour is incorrect - firstly, snakes are NOT like dogs in regard to their responses to rewards (the poster credits them with far too much insight into human and snake behaviour). It's telling you that it doesn't want to be handled by you - a message you should heed and put it back and possibly try another approach. As has already been suggested, 45 minute handling sessions are far too long, even for calm and compliant snakes - they tire quickly and can become very stressed.

    I should also say your use of the term "aggressive" is incorrect - the snake is actually being defensive - it only wants you to leave it alone.

    Jamie
     
  8. Justdragons

    Justdragons Very Well-Known Member

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    I disagree, i used gloves with my albino 1 beacuse i didnt like getting bitten 30 times and 2 because i would be nervous and so would she.. after maybe 10 times with gloves i started taking them off once she was out with me and calm and she was ok and then i started to not use them and we a re both cheering and now i dont use them with any new snakes becuase i now have a lot of confidence and im not scared of the bite anymore and with confidence comes trust. i rekon they can see when your nervous and the heart is pumping and they get nervous.. i think if anything like that helps you be calm it will help the snake be calm.. if its not the living conditions and its just the snake being young it will take time.. IMO

    Toby
     
  9. Ezmay

    Ezmay Active Member

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    yeah, i used gloves to start with cos i wasnt very confidant but now can just pick up my boy and do just about anything with him :) i just weened off them and he hasnt tried to strike at me since!! :)
     
  10. Raymonde

    Raymonde Active Member

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    I don't know about anyone else but i did not mean that snakes are trainable like a dog. I know that snakes are not that intelligent and most of what they do comes from instinct. But i do believe that they can learn to associate certain things with certain consequences. I have heard people say that some snakes that are fed in their enclosure will begin to associate the opening of the door with food time if that is what happens the majority of the time the door opens.
     
  11. Gruni

    Gruni Very Well-Known Member

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    There has been a lot of discussion on this over the last few months. Personally I got my Mac out and handled her for a few minutes and gradually built up on the time and she can be out and about for an hour or so these days without getting defensive, she has never been agro but you used to be able to tell when she'd had enough of being handled. Also I never try to handle her or interfere with her tank daily. I get her out maybe a couple of times a week sometimes I don't handle her for a fortnight but if yours is reacting this way I would question whether it's a good idea to go in so regularly (as per your other thread). I have noticed that Longqi swears by using pillow cases to cover your hands while first handling the snakes and a pm to him would probably be worth your while as he deals with rescued snakes that are often aggressive. What is he like once you have him out, does he settle down once you are holding him? (Sorry if you already said, I can't remember as you have asked a few things that I have tried to follow)

    Going back to when you got Diablo, how loing did you leave him alone to settle in? I'm just wondering if you rushed the process and need to back track a bit. Cover the front of the tank for a week and leave him be then gradually increase your interaction with him. Either way good luck.
     
  12. solar 17

    solar 17 Guest

    +1
     
  13. Gruni

    Gruni Very Well-Known Member

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    I thought I should clarify by out and about for an hour that usually means she gets comfortble somewhere (which has included going in my long sleeve shirt) and basically dozes off, not moving for nearly half an hour. As was the case in these photos.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  14. longqi

    longqi Very Well-Known Member

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    ^^^It already knows your scent now and thats very good
    But I bet anything that even when its cosy on your shoe that if your hand touches it it goes straight into defense mode??

    Many years ago an old bushy taught me a lot about snakes
    Whenever he had to move a snake away from his chooks he used his shirt or any other cloth that was close by to pick them up without any dramas. Those snakes included Eastern Browns and Red Bellied Blacks
    The most interesting thing was that sometimes he would hand me a snake complete with cloth; then he would say 'Get ready' and touch it with his hand. 9 times out of 10 that snake, which so far had been putting up with being moved without any dramas; would go ballistic

    Hot sweaty hands and snakes dont mix
    But the same snake GENTLY picked up with a cloth is usually a much different animal
    Thats because cloth is not a predator and gives off no threat

    Weve got hooks that we use for some vens we have to move
    But for most non vens we just use cloth bags like small pillowcases
    We let them settle into the cloth and try to never touch them with human skin
    We dont get bitten

    Every one of our pet snakes is handled for the first time with its bag or cloth that it knows
    We dont get bitten

    Gently Support Soft and Slow are the 4 important words to live by
    Grabbing Gripping Restraining are no longer in your vocabulary
    ..
    Teach any snake to trust you and they are very cool pets
    ..
    I would use a piece of cloth or a cotton/linen bag to lift it out of its viv
    Let it coil up up in the cloth either on your hand or in your lap
    Let it run the race and take its own time about sniffing around
     
  15. Gruni

    Gruni Very Well-Known Member

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    I usually talk to her before I touch her when she is like that Longqi and she is very placid about it all (I figure the rumble of my voice gives her a heads up), there was one time where, because she had only settled for a very short time, that I reached for her and copped a quick hit as she had dozed of or something. Straight after she struck she then let me handle her as per usual, she generally trusts me and even if she doesn't want to let go of something she won't go balistic or strike at me... I posted those pics just to show that when I have her out I am not nessecarily 'handling' her the whole time but let her decide within reason where she wants to go and how much she wants to cruise around, I have been known to do the odd chore around the place with Skittles draped around my neck and climbing over my head. :D

    It wasn't me looking for advice but I figured you would have some good advice for Jess though and as per usual you didn't disappoint.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  16. Schnecke

    Schnecke Well-Known Member

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    Gruni, my partner and I are the same with out 2 pythons. We let them let us know when they've had enough. When we get them out they will explore for a little while, but after about 15 minutes they seem to find a warm comfortable position (My Jungle often using my hand as a stick and rests his head on my lap or the couch etc) and will ley there for quite some time while we just watch TV (much to the cat's disgust, as she isn't allowed to set foot on the carpet of that room without being shoo'd away)

    When they starts to become active again, we know it's time to go back into the enclosure (and by that stage they actually feel warmer than when they came out - cheeky things know how to use our body warmth)

    I had a "zoomy" Jungle to start (not snappy, just HATED human touch and would try to shoot off onto the floor if I tried to pick him up, so I think Longqi is right in saying this, if they are touched by hand they certainly react differently to being touched with cloth, or hook (I always warm our hook up and it's only to let our boys know we are there and we are no threat, then we get them out of their enclosures by hand and handle as normal)

    We started off with 5 minute handles for the first few times and built up to half an hour handles. it's rare that they are out for any longer, but every now and then they are content to watch TV with us for an hour or so on our laps, soaking up 37 degree basking spots :)

    Hoping you have some success with your snappy little one and with patience, slow interaction (slow is the key I think - when you are slow, you will be able to read your python's body language properly) and just aim to have your python settled over the next 6-12 months (it doesn't happen straight away)
     
  17. Gloves are still a bad move... they say far more about the handler than they do about the nature of the animal.

    Jamie
     
  18. longqi

    longqi Very Well-Known Member

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    I actually agree with this but for totally different reasons
    thick gloves are useless
    they remove your opportunity to feel what the snake is doing/feeling
    thin gloves transmit our body heat too quickly thus having virtually the same effect as bare skin

    loose cotton or linen cloth like a tea towel works

    if you find the feistiest snake you can do a simple experiment
    touch it with your hand
    it will strike and probably continue to strike and probably go into full defence mode
    now dangle a tea towel in front of it
    it will strike
    maybe it will strike a few times
    then it will sense no danger and just coil up

    let it get used to the scent of the cloth then gently slide your cloth covered hand under the snake
    most times you can simply support it and gently pick it up
    because the cloth presents no immediate danger it wont strike the cloth any more unless you try to restrain or grip the snake
    it will not like what is happening much and will try to flee
    if you have another cloth on your other hand let it slide from one to the other
    eventually it will relax more and curl up on one of the cloths

    touch it with the other cloth and it will usually just sit there
    touch it with your bare hand and it will strike
     
  19. jessjary

    jessjary Not so new Member

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    i finally handled diablo today and he went crazy but i used a hook for the first few minutes in his enclosure so he got used to it being around his upper body, when he stopped striking at it i wore thin fabric gloves and took him out. he struck heaps even though i was trying my hardest to be gentle and slow with him.

    at least its a step forward. but when I put him back in the tank he whipped around and hit the glass and broke a tooth and dislodged his jaw which was unfortunate. I think ill leave him for a few days before trying that again. but at least he knows now that I'm not scared and I can handle him now.

    Thanks everyone for the advice. much appreciated.

    xx
     
  20. treeofgreen

    treeofgreen Well-Known Member

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    I second or third of fourth??:p the cloth method. I have owned about 7 pythons over the last 10 or so years. All of my snakes except for 2 were just lovely and i consider myself lucky. The 2 snappy ones i had was my 2nd spotted and my first diamond python when i was about 15 years old or so. I rang up the lovely bloke i got the spotted off to ask for some guidance (didnt know of any forums then hehe) and he told me to try the pillow case method. Worked a treat!!

    Did the same as what others are saying here: started off with short handling sessions of about 2-5 mins then progressed to longer sessions.

    The diamond only took about 2 weeks of this (every 2nd day or so) to become nice and placid and comfortable with me. Then i tried bare hands and the first time she only got abit skittish then calmed down after that. Never had a problem with her from then on

    The spotted was abit more trouble, took a good few months for him to be comfortable with being picked up, but we eventually got used to each other!!

    I was nervous at the start, but that changed after being tagged a few times!

    I also never really liked using a hook for my pythons. Always wanted to do it by hand, thats just me though :)

    I also let them decide when they wanted to stop their play time, just like Gruni mentioned.

    NEVER Give up!! Even though your little one might be the type to just hate being handled, i am sure you will be able to get him to a stage where you can take him out comfortably without dramas (like him striking at the glass etc)
     
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