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Old 23-06-2014, 03:05 PM
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Default Stroking snakes?

Now this might sound silly, but do snakes like being stroked? Monty my royal python is quite tense when I get him out - balled up etc. But when I gently run my finger over him in spots he starts to relax, unwind and flick his tongue. He stays on my hand, and isn't trying to get away but he seems more at ease...so do they enjoy it/does it comfort them or am I a loony?
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Old 23-06-2014, 03:16 PM
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I don't think anyone can know if they enjoy it - but they know that as time passes of being held the threat of you eating them decreases, so that is probably why they start to relax more as they get more used to you they should relax faster!
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Old 23-06-2014, 03:18 PM
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thanks, as long as he doesn't hate it! I was going to let him stretch out on the bed but as soon as we got in there he went ball mode again
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Old 23-06-2014, 03:22 PM
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I don't think it's a case of enjoying it, they either tolerate it or don't. My snakes will flicker there tongue and remain relaxed if I touch them,im aware they are merely comfortable in my presence and do not see me as a threat but I genuinely don't think they 'enjoy ' it. The tongue flicking is there way of assessing situations and checking what's going on, for example are there predators about? Female or male snakes? Food?
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Old 23-06-2014, 03:25 PM
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They just get more relaxed, I doubt they get to the point they want to start Purring.
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Old 23-06-2014, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
I don't think it's a case of enjoying it, they either tolerate it or don't.
I think he's very tolerant then bless him, lets me touch his head/neck area if I'm slow and gentle - what a good boy eh!
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Old 23-06-2014, 04:13 PM
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We'll never know for certain whether they find it physically enjoyable, but I see no reason why they couldn't if they were sufficiently relaxed; mammals and birds at least enjoy the skin being gently scraped/rubbed (i.e. they scratch themselves/enjoy being petted) because evolutionarily speaking it removes dirt and parasites. I've seen my snakes rubbing themselves on things, particularly when gearing up to shed, so they obviously also have an urge to rub their skin on things and must get a chemical reward for doing so or they wouldn't bother, so I think they could definitely enjoy it, yeah, if they weren't feeling stressed.
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Old 23-06-2014, 05:16 PM
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Just before Opal went into shed she began rubbing herself all over stuff- including me, when I was holding her. I began rubbing the back of her head and neck for her, and she seemed to like it well enough- must have been helping her out.

Rambo tolerated being stroked when I met him prior to picking him up from his last home. Not sure if it's just because he was living with small kids or not, though- I imagine he got petted quite a lot. He's certainly very good around noise!
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Old 23-06-2014, 05:17 PM
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As you have already noticed, a snake that is nervous or afraid is physically tense, muscles hard and in a defensive (or offensive) posture. The tension is usually accompanied by no tongue flicks at all. they are afraid and not interested in anything other than what is immediately happening.

Relaxed snakes are soft at least where the muscles are not working, alert and actively smelling (tongue flicking) They may be exploring or just relaxed.

Stressed snakes often are hyper active frantic movements with lot of tongue flicks and constant fast movements, basically seeking escape.

You have described typical pattern of fear of being removed from 'safety' the hide the enclosure, transitioning to a exploratory/ relaxed state. Whether your gentle touch aids that transition or not is up to you to guess. I or anybody else cannot get a 'read' on the subtle body language of a snake from the internet or even a video easily.

I believe some snakes do seem to 'enjoy' human contact. Enjoy is not the right term but some will learn being removed from an enclosure is nothing to fear, and will stay relaxed and calm while in human contact for long periods of time and will become tired before they ever become stressed. (Tired snakes in extreme cases will be limp and slow to respond to stimulus they not malling will respond to. They should never be allowed to reach physical exhaustion like this!) I personally keep 11 and of the them 4 are like this. The 100 or so I work with professionally 20 or 25 are always relaxed, with equal numbers always snotty and never relaxed (fear to stressed with no calm at all.)
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Old 23-06-2014, 05:35 PM
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Thanks Kitedemon, thanks for the great response. It's good to know I'm reading his body language ok, and not making it worse or stressful for him. At the moment he goes in and out of the relaxed state, but I'm sure that will take time. So while I will never get him to 'enjoy' my company, I would love for him to never be afraid of our time together and if the stroking is ok by him I will continue to do it and be fascinated by him and his little tiny scales and how he feels
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