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Old 21-09-2019, 10:17 PM
Egg
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: West Midlands
Posts: 4
Default Bitey Royal

Hi Forum, I'm new here but not new to reptile keeping. Although I'm hardly very experienced either.

Anyway, the issue... a few weeks ago I acquired an adult Royal Python from a reptile rescue centre. She's healthy, settled in and feeding well. However, since getting her she has bitten me a couple of times. Both times were feeding response bites, not defensive. And now she seems to be alert to and interested in anything moving in the viv. For example she struck out at a piece of cork bark earlier that I was moving to change her water and there is no food anywhere near her.

I was wondering if you folk had any advice for trying to subdue this behaviour? This is my first Python, I've previously had a corn snake and with the corn I was used to there being a complete difference between feeding behaviour and handling. In as much as there was only ever a feeding response with there was mouse smell about.

I'm aware that Pythons have the heat sensitive pits that could interest her. But I wouldn't expect that kind of feeding aggression without a prey item within range?

The only thing I can think of, is when I first had her she was due a feed but I didn't feed her for a another week as I wanted to giver her time to settle first, so she was very hungry at that time. Can being excessively hungry make them more prone to strike out at anything warm and roughly rat sized despite no raty smell? She's fed a few times since too so I don't think hunger is any longer a factor?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. And sorry it ended up being a bit long. lol

Kind Regards.

Matt.
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Old 22-09-2019, 04:57 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NE Scotland Buckie
Posts: 145
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My first thought is that she is still a bit hungry. You could try moving up a size or feeding her a small rat weaner (or something smaller), after the main course, and see if she takes that. Out of interest, I've got one Royal on a 7 day feeding routine, and another on a 14 day routine - they decide what is right for them. Hope this helps - good luck
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Old 22-09-2019, 05:36 PM
Egg
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: West Midlands
Posts: 4
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I have actually just got some bigger rats in. So I'll try her on one of those, and hope with a bit more rat in her and a few more handling sessions she calms down a bit.

Maybe I should consider myself lucky I have a well feeding royal and in a few months time I'll be longing for the days when she'd eat everything in front of her!!
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Old 22-09-2019, 09:07 PM
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Location: Stevenage, UK
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Welcome to the forum

Normally newcomers are posting here because their royal isn't feeding... nice to hear she has settled in and feeding well. If its a feeding response then react to it. Offer her a larger meal on a weekly basis.

You say she's an adult, so I'm guessing she's between 1800g and 2200g and around 1m in length, if so then she could manage small rats that are around the 100g-160g weight when frozen. Once thawed warm up with a hair dryer and offer the food. I normally feed between 7pm and 9pm, but as your snake is so switched on to food I wouldn't think that matters.

You do get exceptions to the rule. My Female lesser pastel laid a clutch of eggs 42 days ago, but prior to being bred she only ever missed a feed twice in four years, and like yours was very food focused which made changing water or spot cleaning fun !
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Malc



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Old 23-09-2019, 08:43 PM
Egg
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: West Midlands
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OK great... thanks for your input. So if we're thinking that it is indeed a hungry snake. Then I'll defo try the larger food items, and see where that leads us.

I'll keep you posted
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Old 29-09-2019, 08:45 PM
Egg
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: West Midlands
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Just as an update... she ate one of her larger rats last week, so I'm happy that she was pretty full at the time.

However, upon cleaning her vivarium out over the weekend she again got very interested in me moving some viv furniture out before I removed her. However, I noted that her striking at piece of cork bark very much a strike and back off kind of bite. So I'm thinking this is more of a defensive bite? Obviously the time she bit and constricted my hand was a feeding response, I'm thinking this was a one off now.

So my python psychology question is this... if she is feeling defensive when I go in there to change her water etc, why would she come out to me instead of just staying in her hide? Can royals be territorial and she's defending her patch? Or is she just looking for a fight and enjoys a bit of agro?

I'm fairly happy that her aggression seems to be defensive though, as I think this will be easier to 'train' out of her than convincing her I'm not food.

Matt.
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Old 30-09-2019, 01:35 AM
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Location: Stevenage, UK
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Matt, all snakes, even those that are brothers and sisters in the same clutch will have differing personality. Some shy, and stress at the slightest disturbance, others quite bold with a "don't give a..." attitude, and anywhere in between. We as humans have classified the strikes in to categories, defensive and feeding. Only a few species have been sited as having what we would call aggression and will actively chase someone when they are pissed off with them.

But as to what instigates the strike, could be 1001 things. It may feel threatened by the disturbance. If so then remove the snake from the enclosure whilst you are doing the cleaning, or stop wavering your hands in front of it and be slower in your movements.

As I've mentioned in other posts, you need to read your snake. My three Royals and boa are housed in the lounge. There is so much activity and movement in front of their vivs (my desk where I spend a lot of time is in arms length of the three vivs housing my royals) so they are not spooked when I open the glass. If your snake is in an enclosure that is in a room with little or no movement in, then it will be on alert when it senses you entering the room.

Now you have it feeding it could be that the strike may have been hunger related, but it was quick to detect that it was a lump of cork and not something warm and something that could be food.

I personally don't think they are territorial in the sense that a male lion protects its patch, but snakes do get viv defensive. They feel secure in their environment and don't like being disturbed. It's more of "leave me alone I'm comfortable".

Try and get into a habit of doing things at certain times of the day. It's not wise to spot clean or change water after dark. These things thermo-track targets and a nice warm hand stands out in the low light like a red rag to a bull. I tend to offer food in the evening, between 6-8pm. I'm sure that the smell of the rats defrosting all day gets them into the mood and ready to take a warm rat / mouse. Again, don't try cage maintenance on the day of feeding....for obvious reasons. Royals are (mostly) nocturnal so do all the water changing and cleaning whilst the lights are on and the snake is resting in one of the hides. If there is a risk of being nailed when cleaning use
a long handled spoon, or tongs. I wouldn't try and remove a dry turd or shed skin that is right under the nose of my boa using my hand (but can tickle him under his chin when he's out and being handled), but he's cool when I scoop it out with a long handled kitchen spoon. - It's all part of learning your snakes behaviour.
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Malc



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