Free handling of opisthoglyphous (rear fanged) species - Reptile Forums

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Old 02-08-2012, 03:56 PM
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Default Free handling of opisthoglyphous (rear fanged) species

Given the content and debate in recent threads I thought it would be interesting to create a thread dedicated to the topic, with an interest to gauging opinion on the matter.

The popularity of rear fanged species is increasing (reasons for this increase in popularity is a different debate). Inevitably, their increasing popularity is going to lead to an increase in the number of keepers handling them on a regular basis and, either because they are over confident or perhaps inexperienced, they may well handle these snakes in a way that increases the risk of a bite.

What are your opinions? Do you think all species that have the potential to envenomate should be handled cautiously with hooks or do you think we should allow keepers freedom to choose how they handle their own snakes?

My personal opinion is that the problem lies not necessarily with the handling technique as much as the handler. I fear that inexperienced keepers who free handle rear fanged species either out of ignorance or for egotistical reasons, will eventually result in someone getting hurt and therefore increased restrictions on the species I love to keep (for example Boiga).

While I do not wish to single people out, there are recent examples of people who have recently acquired wild caught rear fanged species and the first thing they do when they get home is free handle the species in a way you would many other snakes. I have no problem with free handling certain species but only if you know the species, you know the individual snake and you know what action to take if things go wrong. Alas, I fear that these conditions are met by less and less opisthoglyphous snake keepers as it stands and we are getting closer to something going drastically wrong...
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:02 PM
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I dont keep rear fanged right now but in my opinion its up too the keeper what they wish too do. Some species would be fine too handle (hognose for example) yet when you get into mangrove areas then they should be hooked and only done so when needed as its safter for the owner and better for the snake etc. Thats just my opinion but someone who has kept the species may disagree, yet I have had experience with some rear fanged, though limited
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:06 PM
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It really depends on the species and the keeper.
I would not agree that there is a large increase in popularity, in fact there is only a very small number of species that are readily available, these being western hognoses, mangroves, green cat snakes, FWC's, and thats about it! Occasionally you may come across a barons racer or a malagasy hognose.
Having kept barons, malagasy's, FWC's and mangroves, and still keeping and breeding western and Mexican hognoses I would say that they are as variable as any constrictor to keep in terms of temperament.
With the Boiga species, these tend to be nocturnal, and by day are very placid and laid back. Mangroves also have a very slow strike, and always give the same warning of S shape, gaping, and hissing before a comically slow strike. By night, they are much quicker to strike and very bad tempered.
My barons were always very flighty, but never showed aggression. They were, however, very food orientated, and any mouse in the room would set them off into a feeding frenzy. I found that Malagasy hogs were loud and vocal but not snappy, whereas hognoses are very variable.
Due to a bad bite from a western many years ago, I always take very great care with them.
In all honesty it is no different to free handling snakes such as ATB's who can cause quite nasty bites due to the size of their teeth. The only difference is that rear fanged species can deliver an envenomated bite.
One thing to bear in mind is that none of the non-DWA species have caused a human death.
In summary - only the individual keeper can make an informed decision about handling methods as they know their own snakes' temperaments.
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:43 PM
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I have quite strong opinions on this matter. I believe that any snake capable of envenomation should be handled with extreme care.

Free handling snakes like falsies and mangroves is irresponsible. All it takes is for one person to have a bad bite, and the hobby could end up in more conflict than it already is.

Think of that idiot on Britains Strangest Pets (the one with the boa). Imagine if it were him who got tagged by a boiga or falsie. It would be all over the news, and he'd be on TV, telling everyone how his deadly pet almost killed him. For the sake of using a hook, is it really worth risking it? I don't think so.

Mangroves, imo, should still be dwa. Since they were removed from the list, people seem to have forgotten they were once considered to be medically significant. Just because they're no longer classed as dwa, doesn't mean it's ok to ignore basic safety.

Falsies are not asd bad as mangroves (bites), but still; they have venom, and it works. This should be enough to make someone think twice about treating them like a corn.

I know I'm going to get slated for this, but I really don't care. My opinion is perfectly valid, makes a lot of sense, and is for the good of hobby and the hobbiest.
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ian14 View Post
It really depends on the species and the keeper.
I would not agree that there is a large increase in popularity, in fact there is only a very small number of species that are readily available, these being western hognoses, mangroves, green cat snakes, FWC's, and thats about it! Occasionally you may come across a barons racer or a malagasy hognose.
Having kept barons, malagasy's, FWC's and mangroves, and still keeping and breeding western and Mexican hognoses I would say that they are as variable as any constrictor to keep in terms of temperament.
With the Boiga species, these tend to be nocturnal, and by day are very placid and laid back. Mangroves also have a very slow strike, and always give the same warning of S shape, gaping, and hissing before a comically slow strike. By night, they are much quicker to strike and very bad tempered.
My barons were always very flighty, but never showed aggression. They were, however, very food orientated, and any mouse in the room would set them off into a feeding frenzy. I found that Malagasy hogs were loud and vocal but not snappy, whereas hognoses are very variable.
Due to a bad bite from a western many years ago, I always take very great care with them.
In all honesty it is no different to free handling snakes such as ATB's who can cause quite nasty bites due to the size of their teeth. The only difference is that rear fanged species can deliver an envenomated bite.
One thing to bear in mind is that none of the non-DWA species have caused a human death.
In summary - only the individual keeper can make an informed decision about handling methods as they know their own snakes' temperaments.
It certainly depends on the species we are referring to but I do think that there has been an increase in the popularity of rear fanged species, with more people interested in purchasing H. gigas and certain Boiga for example than a few years ago. Whether or not these species are readily available is of course a different matter, but an increase in popularity and interest in these species is I think quite evident.

You make a very good point and show a very good knowledge of a variety of species that possess rear fangs, but this is my point. Someone such as yourself is obviously very ready to deal with these species and can very easily predict their behaviour and will therefore be able to free handle them a lot more effectively. This is not necessarily the case for the less experienced whom I have seen free handling certain species with little to no interest in their own safety or indeed the health of the snake. Freshly WC Boiga being a prime example - I would suggest they are in no condition to be handled at all let alone free handled for a photo shoot.

It is down to the individual keeper and nothing we say of course is going to instantly change what the individual keeper does. I suppose my question is what do you guys think keepers of these species should do when it comes to handling regardless of what they personally believe? Is it species specific etc.
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:47 PM
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As someone who ended up hospitalised after a very swift bite to the index finger by a Psammophis shokari this week, I will be very interested to follow this thread. I was separating two snakes, one hellbent on eating the other, so unavoidable. To be fair, I was under the impression their venom was relatively "mild" and only delivered when "chewed", and the hospitalisation was a massive over-reaction on the hospital's part (I only went for a strong antihistamine shot, got nothing but panic and an uncomfortable night's sleep with it elavated!).
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coldestblood View Post
I have quite strong opinions on this matter. I believe that any snake capable of envenomation should be handled with extreme care.

Free handling snakes like falsies and mangroves is irresponsible. All it takes is for one person to have a bad bite, and the hobby could end up in more conflict than it already is.

Think of that idiot on Britains Strangest Pets (the one with the boa). Imagine if it were him who got tagged by a boiga or falsie. It would be all over the news, and he'd be on TV, telling everyone how his deadly pet almost killed him. For the sake of using a hook, is it really worth risking it? I don't think so.

Mangroves, imo, should still be dwa. Since they were removed from the list, people seem to have forgotten they were once considered to be medically significant. Just because they're no longer classed as dwa, doesn't mean it's ok to ignore basic safety.

Falsies are not asd bad as mangroves (bites), but still; they have venom, and it works. This should be enough to make someone think twice about treating them like a corn.

I know I'm going to get slated for this, but I really don't care. My opinion is perfectly valid, makes a lot of sense, and is for the good of hobby and the hobbiest.
I completely agree.

While they may not kill you, I really wouldn't want a bite from a Mangrove, FWC, or several other rear fanged species, so I handle them in such a way as to minimise the chances of being bitten, i.e. as little as possible, and with a hook.
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coldestblood View Post
Free handling snakes like falsies and mangroves is irresponsible. All it takes is for one person to have a bad bite, and the hobby could end up in more conflict than it already is.

Think of that idiot on Britains Strangest Pets (the one with the boa). Imagine if it were him who got tagged by a boiga or falsie. It would be all over the news, and he'd be on TV, telling everyone how his deadly pet almost killed him. For the sake of using a hook, is it really worth risking it? I don't think so
I think here you reiterate the fears I have. I am not currently in a position to obtain a DWA as I do not yet have a house and therefore a spare room to dedicate to the hobby, and I do worry that someone foolish may procure something like a B. dendrophilia specimen and proceed to do something that may result in their placement back on DWA along with other similar species. We all know the power of the press, twinned with the ignorance of the government, would almost certainly lead to an overreaction when it came to a bad bite and that would mean the hobbyist such as myself who is truly fascinated by these snakes will be penalised as a result of one idiot with a rear fanged venomous snake.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coldestblood View Post
I know I'm going to get slated for this, but I really don't care. My opinion is perfectly valid, makes a lot of sense, and is for the good of hobby and the hobbiest.
I don't see why you should get slated and I would discourage anyone from slating you - this is exactly why I posted the thread, I wanted to see the opinion of everyone whether it be for or against. This is a debate and it would be wonderful for it not to descend into a flamefest just because we all have opinions that differ...
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Old 02-08-2012, 05:06 PM
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I will be echoing the opinions of most on here: It depends on the species and the individual specimen, as well as the keeper and their confidence.

It does worry me that I often see the more 'pokey' species being handled like corns and boas. Along with the seemingly persistant view that snakes must be handled.
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Old 02-08-2012, 05:14 PM
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For me it depends on the species and individual snake. I'd feel ridiculous hooking a hognose out everytime, as I know they mostly bluff. However that doesn't mean I'd let someone else handle them without warning them of the venom first.
We freehandle falsies, but they are always hooked out, if I'm concerned about a bite (ie looking hungry), they go straight off the hook into a tub, recently decided to start tap training them and they have always had decent temperaments. I suppose you could say we are a little slack as no one has ever been killed by the venom etc., but it is our choice. If they started turning really snotty and bitey, then the handling would stop.
Any boiga we have or will get in future will always be hook trained, don't think it's worth the stress for the snake, and if they were on the DWA at some point then it seems there must have been a good enough reason for it.

I suppose at the end of it it is down to the individual keeper, there are a lot more rear fanged snakes I wouldn't handle than I would to be fair.

But the antis will always have ammo, you'd be better off shutting down forums like this, as whether it's from bites from venomous snakes, or people asking for general care or help with their reptiles, they will use it against us regardless.
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