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How to "tame" Snappy juvenile?

KingTommo719

New Member
Hi everyone,
I'm new to the python keeper's game. I got a South-Western Carpet python 2 weeks ago, currently 16 months old. I have handled him a few times already for short periods (3 - 5 minutes). He does not enjoy this at all. Has anybody else had this problem? Should I just stick with it, will he become more dosile as he gets older?
 

Sdaji

Almost Legendary
APS Veteran
Trusted Seller
The type of handling is important, not just handling. Bad handling will make a snake more likely to bite, not less. Most pythons which are never, ever handled, are good handlers. Wild snakes are bad handlers because they have experience with a world where any large animal which approaches wants to kill you.

Captive snakes which are never handled see humans as harmless parts of the environment. They don't attack, they come, they go, they are seen often but never cause trouble, so the snake is comfortable with them and don't see them as threatening. If you then pick them up they're usually fine. If a snake is scared and you pick it up and it's striking at you, especially if you restrain it as all, it thinks you're trying to kill it. When it bites and bluffs and tries to scare you, when you do put it down, it assumes you wanted to eat it but it managed to scare you, or assumes when it bit you it injured you and you gave up. So, next time you pick it up it will assume it again needs to fight you to avoid being eaten, and this can become an established pattern. Many newbies are told to handle frequently so the snake gets used to it without any further advice, and when it develops into this negative cycle they become very frustrated and disheartened.

Some snakes are just lovely, others will always be grumpy, most can be changed depending on how you treat them, but once you've turned them nasty it can be difficult to turn them nice; it's easier to gain trust from the start than to regain trust after losing it, and a snake won't understand that you never meant to hurt it, and they don't actually want or need to be handled.

Each snake is an individual. I don't know your snake but most likely at that age if it's handling badly, the first step would be to not handle it for a while, then very slowly introduce handling (depending on the snake this might start with just touching it gently when cleaning the cage, stroking it with a hook, just holding part if its body briefly without picking it up, etc. Honestly, it's something I definitely just wouldn't bother with!). Just picking up a snake which is scared of humans and forcing it to be handled for 5-15 minutes will often be counterproductive. Don't handle until it's completely comfortable with you being nearby without touching it.
 

KingTommo719

New Member
The type of handling is important, not just handling. Bad handling will make a snake more likely to bite, not less. Most pythons which are never, ever handled, are good handlers. Wild snakes are bad handlers because they have experience with a world where any large animal which approaches wants to kill you.

Captive snakes which are never handled see humans as harmless parts of the environment. They don't attack, they come, they go, they are seen often but never cause trouble, so the snake is comfortable with them and don't see them as threatening. If you then pick them up they're usually fine. If a snake is scared and you pick it up and it's striking at you, especially if you restrain it as all, it thinks you're trying to kill it. When it bites and bluffs and tries to scare you, when you do put it down, it assumes you wanted to eat it but it managed to scare you, or assumes when it bit you it injured you and you gave up. So, next time you pick it up it will assume it again needs to fight you to avoid being eaten, and this can become an established pattern. Many newbies are told to handle frequently so the snake gets used to it without any further advice, and when it develops into this negative cycle they become very frustrated and disheartened.

Some snakes are just lovely, others will always be grumpy, most can be changed depending on how you treat them, but once you've turned them nasty it can be difficult to turn them nice; it's easier to gain trust from the start than to regain trust after losing it, and a snake won't understand that you never meant to hurt it, and they don't actually want or need to be handled.

Each snake is an individual. I don't know your snake but most likely at that age if it's handling badly, the first step would be to not handle it for a while, then very slowly introduce handling (depending on the snake this might start with just touching it gently when cleaning the cage, stroking it with a hook, just holding part if its body briefly without picking it up, etc. Honestly, it's something I definitely just wouldn't bother with!). Just picking up a snake which is scared of humans and forcing it to be handled for 5-15 minutes will often be counterproductive. Don't handle until it's completely comfortable with you being nearby without touching it.
Thanks very much for the advice Sdaji, it doesn't often flinch when I open up the terrarium to change water, clean etc. When I have attempted to pick it up (After being struck) I attempt to gently carry it free of the terrarium, only holding it from underneath and not squeezing it at all. Once I have it free of the terrarium, it isn't as feisty as it was whilst I'm picking it up, although it still doesn't seem to be happy. Aside from the examples you have provided, is there anything else you would define as "Good handling?"
 

Pythonguy1

Well-Known Member
Sorry if my information was misleading or anything.
However, I did have a young carpet once which really hated being handled. But after 5-15 minutes of handling a day, good as gold.
 
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Sdaji

Almost Legendary
APS Veteran
Trusted Seller
Sorry if my information was misleading.
However, I did have a young carpet once which really hated being handled. But after 5-15 minutes of handling a day, good as gold.

Your advice wasn't really wrong, it was just a short post and I added more to the story :) Every individual snake and handler is different and results can be difficult to predict, but after decades of working with thousands of snakes you see some general trends. As you've seen first hand, what you did worked, and for some snakes and handlers it will. For others it won't. I certainly didn't mean to imply that no one should do what you did, if you do it right with the right snake it'll work well.
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Thanks very much for the advice Sdaji, it doesn't often flinch when I open up the terrarium to change water, clean etc. When I have attempted to pick it up (After being struck) I attempt to gently carry it free of the terrarium, only holding it from underneath and not squeezing it at all. Once I have it free of the terrarium, it isn't as feisty as it was whilst I'm picking it up, although it still doesn't seem to be happy. Aside from the examples you have provided, is there anything else you would define as "Good handling?"

It's really difficult to say without seeing the snake, but i wouldn't generally handle a snake which didn't want to be handled if I wanted it to learn to like being handled.

If I actually saw the snake I'd immediately know if it was scared of you or wanting to kill you to eat you or confused about the situation. What's going to work would depend on that. Some snakes will quickly feel calm when handled well and immediately thrash around or try to bite when held badly. It took me a while as a new handler to recognise what the difference was. I did notice pretty quickly (over a month or two) that snakes were much happier and more calm when I held them, but at first my change in handling was instinctive and I didn't know what I'd changed. I still don't actually know what I was doing wrong at first, but some basic things are to support the snake in the right way, not restrain the snake at all, and avoid sudden movements. There are plenty of more subtle things too.

Newer keepers are often very excited about handling their snakes and it's difficult for them to keep their hands off! I look at them a little more like fish, I never handle most snakes I work with, but almost all of them handle very well if you do handle them.
 

burningfyra

Not so new Member
Related Question, My new Woma seems to get a bit antsy whenever I undo the clips on my click clack whenever I am changing the paper towel or water, to the point where he is sometimes coiled sitting up defensively in the S shape.

Does anyone have any tips for either opening the sistema container in a way that is isnt so loud and jolts him so much or how to approach the situation after I open it up?
 

Derekw

Active Member
Related Question, My new Woma seems to get a bit antsy whenever I undo the clips on my click clack whenever I am changing the paper towel or water, to the point where he is sometimes coiled sitting up defensively in the S shape.

Does anyone have any tips for either opening the sistema container in a way that is isnt so loud and jolts him so much or how to approach the situation after I open it up?
There is nothing you can really do with that style of set up mate. My jungle is exactly the same with his tub set up. Its not ideal but i am hoping his new enclosure will sort him out abit.
 

lyzzi

Not so new Member
Hi everyone,
I'm new to the python keeper's game. I got a South-Western Carpet python 2 weeks ago, currently 16 months old. I have handled him a few times already for short periods (3 - 5 minutes). He does not enjoy this at all. Has anybody else had this problem? Should I just stick with it, will he become more dosile as he gets older?

I've had this problem, with all my pythons. I have Jungle Pythons, which have a reputation for being bitey especially when young, and you're doing exactly what you should be. Holding the snake everyday for about 5 minutes will calm them down. Snakes generally bite for 2 reasons, they think you're food, or they think they're about to be food so they're trying to put on a show to scare you, you've just got to hold them regularly to teach them that they are safe and you aren't food. It can take a bit longer when the snake is older than a hatchling, but I've got a girl whose previous owner doesn't believe is so calm now.
 
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