Snake Positive Reinforcement?

Discussion in 'Australian Snakes' started by Konjira, Jul 25, 2012.

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  1. FAY

    FAY Guest

    hehehehe I couldn't help but have a giggle...


     
  2. Two of my snakes are into line drumming - they march up & down the back lawn practising their paradiddles with their bifurcated tongues... When the scrubbies get big enough and have the lung capacity for bagpipes :)... they just can't wait to get started, but I haven't yet decided how I'll get their kilts to stay on...

    Jamie :)
     
  3. C'mon, Jamie, every sensible Scrubbie keeper knows they don't need kilts as they have nothing to cover up!

    I wish people would do their homework before buying a species they have no clue about:)!!
     
  4. Tsubakai

    Tsubakai Very Well-Known Member

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    Just make a longer kilt and hoist it up around their shoulders. That'll stop it falling off and causing embarrassment at an inopportune time.
     
  5. Konjira

    Konjira Not so new Member

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    Thanks for all your great responses guys!

    I have a much better understanding of my snake's thought processes now and am trying vigilantly to focus more on paying attention to what his body language is showing my rather than trying to assume what he's "thinking" (or lack thereof).

    It inspired me to write up an opinion piece on my blog over at Where is Ramón?: On The Relative Intelligence of Snakes* (Ramón is Dumb). It was great to read about everyone's opinions and form my own.

    Probably best to let this thread die, if we're up to the point of talking about snake kilts.
     
  6. SpilotaFreak78

    SpilotaFreak78 Well-Known Member

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    I agree, this is why I will refer to them as Predators, not just as pets. Sure I guess there are intelligent animals, and others with personalities, but I still don't think they could be trained, only given time to get used to their keepers and thats it
     
  7. Dreaper

    Dreaper Active Member

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    my diamond will come to me if i put my hand out, if in the enclosure or being held by someone else. think its more smell then anything tho....
     
  8. sherlock

    sherlock Not so new Member

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    saying 'no' was for my benefit, it was accompanied by a few expletives that I could not repeat on this forum.
    It sure caused a stir.
     
  9. thomasssss

    thomasssss Very Well-Known Member

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    could i get a pm about how you trained him not to go near the heater sherlock if you dont want to say it here ? im kinda interested , might try to train mine to thaw out its own rats and feed itself
     
  10. Tahra

    Tahra Not so new Member

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    My spotted is going on two years old. First snake I've owned. Basically I've gone from the moments she crept out of the bag crapping myself not knowing what to do with her, to her approaching my face (probably related to my warm breath) and giving me 'kisses' when I make lips at her. She never does this unless I puck my lips. Of course though she's not actually giving me a kiss, more like repetitively head butting my lips lol. Anyway the other night she was pretty active and was waiting for me to let her out of her cage just staring at me through the glass begging to come out. So I slid the glass door open and sat on my bed and watched her. She instantly slid out and on to my bed and found her way to my lap and curled up in my hands content. Now she never does this. Ever! The closest she's been to affectionate with me is sleeping in my pockets. So I guess I was really shocked when she did this and she even forced herself between my hand and my iPhone to get my attention. Now I know she wasn't cold or hungry though. She's been fed two-three days prior and I just got her a new heat mat and bedding so she was extra toasty in there, not even cold to the touch!. So I don't know what to think really.
     
  11. longqi

    longqi Very Well-Known Member

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    What an amusing thread
    Now let me prove that the vast majority of responses in this thread are incorrect

    Of course snakes can be trained
    Anyone who has the slightest doubt of that has never had a 'pet' snake
    Anyone who has had a 'pet' snake that didnt bite, had a snake that had learned to trust humans
    Therefore that snake had been 'trained' and had responded to the training

    Yes snakes do NOT have human emotions to any measurable extent using the parameters we use now
    Yet some snakes have shown that our understanding and methodology is flawed
    Because we are mammals we insist on using mammalian testing on reptiles
    As pointed out previously reptiles do not have the mammalian part of the brain that gives some mammals emotions
    So using those tests is flawed from the outset

    Aussies have kept snakes as pets for only a few years
    So they can still be classified as wild animals in Aus in most cases with a few notable exceptions such as most of the snakes used by demonstrators and at schools and birthday parties etc etc etc which most definitely have been trained and have responded to that training

    Open your minds and eyes and visit South America Africa and Asia
    See the 'pet' snakes there that have been incorporated into family life for many generations and see if you change your minds

    There are very few breeders who breed only for temperament
    Colour is the paramount reason for breeding
    If cats and dogs had originally only been bred for colour most breeds would still rip your face off

    If and when temperament breeding becomes the norm we will see enormous changes in both our understanding and knowledge
     
  12. "Of course snakes can be trained
    Anyone who has the slightest doubt of that has never had a 'pet' snake
    Anyone who has had a 'pet' snake that didnt bite, had a snake that had learned to trust humans
    Therefore that snake had been 'trained' and had responded to the training"

    I encounter many pythons each year up here on the mid-north coast, on the roads, around the house, in my sheds, around the aviaries, in chookyards etc, and I can honestly say that 95% of those that I need to handle to ensure their safety, are not interested in biting. Is that training? No - it's an inherently mellow nature, which is demonstrated by many wild, "untrained" snakes.

    You seem to be suggesting that snakes in Australia are more "uncouth" or "uncivilised" than those in other parts of the world because our ability to keep them is so recent. That's a ridiculous assertion. The household "pets" you refer to are simply animals with an innately mellow nature from the outset, those which don't behave in an acceptable way don't get a gurnsey as a housepet. Who could tolerate an aggressive/defensive 20ft Burm or Retic around the house? And don't tell me all snakes can be turned into housepets with the appropriate "snake-whispering" techniques - some snakes just don't like people, here or overseas.

    The difference between here and "there" that you refer to has much more to do with the attitudes of keepers here and elsewhere than it does with the behaviour of the snakes in different countries. Attitudes to reptiles, especially snakes, and the way they are handled in different countries, is strongly influenced by human culture. I wouldn't be too keen to champion the warm, fuzzy relationships between snakes & humans in places like Asia and Africa, where they become dinner or are skinned alive and have their gall-bladders ripped out far more often than they become welcome guests around the home. How do you think the snakey housepets feel about that?

    You will find that exactly the same things are happening in homes in Australia as elsewhere, it's just been a more recent development in Oz, but it is not limited because our snakes are less civilised.

    As for demonstrating animals of course snakes, like anything, can be habituated ("trained" if you like), but it is only those which show good attitude to begin with that get that opportunity. For a snake, biting humans has to be either a response to fear, or a last resort. Physical engagement, either aggressively or defensively, carries significant risk of escalation and injury or even death - many snakes INSTINCTIVELY prefer the path of least resistance, it's the safest option.

    I agree with you that line-breeding for temperament is an interesting possibility - I spent time with Dave Barker in Texas in 1995, and he was already working towards temperament-related pairings.

    Jamie
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2012
  13. Mo-Cheynei

    Mo-Cheynei Well-Known Member

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    well i hope people don't try to get their Berm or retic or black mamba to babysit their children because they have been "trained" to not eat or bite children or the hand that feeds them. :?
     
  14. longqi

    longqi Very Well-Known Member

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    Python
    I am not suggesting our snakes are more uncouth etc
    I am suggesting our attitudes towards them possibly are in many ways

    Completely agree that most wild snakes are gentle if not handled near the head
    TV shows have a lot to answer for in that regard as most of the handlers/catchers grab snakes exactly the way any predator would just to get good footage of 'nasty/dangerous' snakes
    Same snake gently supported along the body wont provide the danger footage required to get tv ratings

    Absolutely agree that Aussie snakes have a far greater chance of living long lives than those overseas in any other country

    But on the other side you have things that remain too far out of the ordinary to be easily explained
    A simple example is the Temple Viper
    A venomous snake with a pretty bad reputation
    But at the temple it was named for there are thousands of these that are on open display
    If you go before or after the crowds you can walk around with a priest and if you are game pick up gently as many as you like without fear of being bitten
    Try the same thing away from the temple and they are extremely defensive snakes

    In Northern Thailand many temples and villages have both vens and non vens living without drama among the people
    Those snakes have most definitely been trained/taught that humans are neither prey or of danger to the snakes so they cohabit the same buildings quite successfully

    Regarding training snakes I have never seen a young snake that cannot be trained
    Ive see a few adult snakes that would appear to be untrainable though

    Mo
    There have been, and still are some huge pythons who live with families including young children without drama
     
  15. crocodile_dan

    crocodile_dan Well-Known Member

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    There is a difference between conditioning an animal and training it in my opinion (although it is a very small distinction that in some practices would be irrelevant). Snakes can be conditioned to certain stimuli but cannot be trained based on current knowledge, maybe in the future a greater insight will reveal something to make it a possibility, but until then. I believe Varanid and Crocodilian species are much more likely to breach the gap and may possibly be able to reside in the training side of things (which is my current view that certain species can undergo training).

    Just because something happened doesn't mean it was caused by a stimulus we observed, a lot of the anthropomorphized stories in this thread reminds me of the "tiger stick", I can carry with me a stick and it will keep tigers away from me, want proof? can you see a tiger near me?

    On the point of breeding temperament, I have stated previously that personality is a heritable trait that is well documented in primary literature. It has started in Australia already. Personality influences the human-animal interactions but personality itself is easily anthropomorphized leading to further 'confusion' of animal behaviour.
     
  16. longqi

    longqi Very Well-Known Member

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    Having watched both varanids and various iguanas totally agree that they are trainable

    It is interesting that we can 'train' a dog or cat or child not to bite etc and call that training
    But when it comes to reptiles we find it difficult to use the same word even though the methods used are similar and the results exactly the same
     
  17. sherlock

    sherlock Not so new Member

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    NoI did not train him. The sequence of events is - I would let himwander around while I watched him closely and always he ended upheading to the heater. Lot of spaces in it he could get into. AlwaysI would gently pick him up and point him elsewhere. One day I did notnotice he was almost in the heater. I panicked and none too gentlypicked him up, while I expressed some expletives (I won’t repeatthem here) with ‘no’ in there somewhere, and put him in his enclosure.
    Couple of days later I noticed he was ignoring the heater, which was most unlike him.
    Theonly immediate explanation, apart from smells, etc. was my roughhandling of him.
    Thepoint of the anecdote was to highlight the fact that they can changetheir behavior in response to stimuli. Hence theoretically trainable.The originator of the thread got the point. Some others did not, andwent quite psychotic. You can go back in the thread and read them tosee what I mean.
    I must admit I got sidetracked by the hilarity of the psychotic and venomous outbursts.

    By the way, haven’t you noticed snakes have no arms or legs? They lost their arms (and legs) millions of years ago. I think they left themin a cave somewhere and forget where they were and god wouldn’tgive them new ones. So they had to make do. They have done very well too.
    So training them to defrost their own rats via a automatic heatermicrowave arrangement is theoretically doable, but very difficult. And theoretically youcould train them somehow, to do it. Major drawback would be the fact that snakes are opportunistic feeders, and if you gave the the chance eat whenever they want, they would just get fat. Don’t you reckon?

     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  18. And that's the leading cause of obesity in today's captive snakes, allowing the "willy nilly" access to microwaves!

    I love APS:)!!
     
  19. cement

    cement Subscriber Subscriber APS Veteran

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    Hey Longqi, I have respect for you for the work you do with wild snakes, but i have to ask...because you have stated that snakes can be trained.... exactly how is this done? In your eyes what is it that happens for you to say "yep...that is a trained snake"?.

    Snakes and reptiles in general are a "new" pet here in Aus... If you use the growth of this 'hobby' as a benchmark. But there are guys out there who have been keeping a long time. Ask the most respected herpers/keepers this question about training snakes. I bet their answers are all the same and along the lines of Jamie's.

    For someone to own one baby Bhp and get on a forum and express their perspective about snakes behaviour based on watching one small snake crawl around a loungeroom is quite ok in my book, thats what forums attract. But you have to keep it in perspective and also accept that there is a lot more to gaining experience then owning one or two placid pythons.

    No offence to the newbies, but the love affair with a new pet snake is...... well , just that, however one sided.
     
  20. longqi

    longqi Very Well-Known Member

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    Cement
    If you take the simplest example it is that most baby snakes bite
    That is an instinctive reaction to contact with any predator
    If that baby snake is handled gently it will soon stop biting when handled and will become a very gentle animal that is a joy to be close to
    Therefore that snake has learned to trust its handler and has been 'trained'

    But if that snake is kept as a breeder for example and is rarely handled it will never get over its fear and will retain a reputation as bitey or feisty or whatever, so in my opinion would be called an 'untrained' snake

    How this is done successfully differs between handlers but in every case it involves the snake learning to trust its handler and not the handler trusting the snake


    The best Aussie examples of 'trained' snakes were the vens the old timers used in live shows
    Browns and Blacks mostly that were free handled on a daily basis with zero monkey business involved
    Most of the old handlers never used hooks and just reached into a bag to lift out gently a big ven and proceed to
    blow their audience away
    They will never be emulated in future because of insurance etc but those snakes most definitely fit the 'trained' category
    whereas the ones used in Victoria that had been de-venomed would fit the 'untrained' category because they still wanted to strike

    We take snakes to local schools here for the kids to learn to simply leave snakes alone as most deaths in Bali are from people trying to catch or kill a snake
    Most of the kids are terrified when we arrive
    2 hours later most of them have touched or supported a snake
    We couldnt do that if we didnt have 100% certainty that those snakes wouldnt strike regardless of the provocation
    So I consider any one of the snakes we use to be trained as well as I know how

    ......
    Some speculation about snake hearing abilities on here
    Snakes are exceptionally good at feeling vibrations
    All sound is composed of vibrations
    I personally feel we have a lot to learn about their hearing ability which is most definitely different to ours but may be actually just as efficient as anyone who has seen tree snakes catching bats on a dark night must agree
     
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