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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks ^^

I've been offered the opportunity to do more hands on work with the snakes (and other reptiles) at my work placement. They've been really good in instructing me, but I'd also like to show that I'm willing to take the time to go off and do my own research as well.

I've never kept snakes so they're a whole new territory for me. I've found plenty regarding the basic care but one thing I'd really like to learn more about is snake 'body language' as it were. That is, how to assess snakes when approaching them in their vivariums, what to look for and how to respond to certain behaviour as I will be expected to be able to go into the vivs, change water, spot clean etc.

The snakes in question aren't terrifying beasties, a few young common Boas, a couple of tree Boas, Royals, a couple of Kingsnakes, a Carpet Python and a D'Albertis. It is important to note that the last two in in particular I am not expected to handle as they're.. rather temperamental.

Many thanks in advance and looking forward to hearing what people have to share.

: victory:

R.
 

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TBH your best bet would be to ask them.
snakes have all different traits and the one in my collection that from his body language you would say is ok will have you in a split second, no warning. i dont go in unnecesserily as i know him and what hes like.

the ones that warn by s-ing up are actually ok! the woma is dopey and will get you by mistake and they are all bad if they think food is on offer except the first mentioned snake who is actually ok then!

see what i mean! ask them to go around to each one and point out the signs as each snake is doing it!
 

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As said, all snakes are different. The majority of of the time it comes down to how much human contact they've had. Personally I don't find a set routine helpful, if nothing else they are creatures of habbit. As for 'body language', it can't always be trusted as emmabee pointed out. Your better off getting to know the habbits of the individual : victory:
 

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To a degree i disagree, but then again i am talking from experience with working with possibly more snakes than most, and i say that with the greatest respect to anyone else. But if you work with enough snakes and different species of snake you can learn there body language. For instance a while back i was showing somebody a snake and they were stroking it, i asked them to stop and they asked why, i said it is about to bite you, she and her boyfriend laughed and said now it aint she is a tame as anything, anyway after i detached the snake from her finger a few seconds later. she asked how i knew? And as i said its in the body language, the snake looked calm but it moved very slightly in a way i recognised and bang, it struck and bit her. It was kust a rat snake so no real halm but over the years and working and getting to know snakes idiosyncrasis. you can pretty much guage most snakes mood and anticipate reasonably well what a snake is going to do. There are a few exeptions to the rule but generally they are snakes you will normally be or should be cautious of anyway.

I can also speak parseltongue
 

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I couldn't agree more with the above posters..Ordinarily I wouldn't vocalise my opinion on things like this but tonight..For the FIRST time in years! My male royal bit me..It wasn't a "tag" or a "warning" he came right out and bit me without warning. This is a snakie ive had around my neck hundreds of times yet this time, he took umbrance. Snakes are like people, they have good n bad days..It's your job to ascertain which is which..I wish you luck :2thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I can certainly appreciate that every snake is different, and like us, has good days and bad days. I've already had to narrowly dodge a strike from a wee Boa in shed (but that was understandable).

My general approach (After asking the keepers if there's anything I need to know/watch for) is to generally be calm, quiet and fairly slow (ie not just go barging on in). After opening up the viv door, I give it a moment in the hope that the snakes will be beginning to get a whiff of my scent (I bath regularly, I swear).

Part of my reasoning in asking about some 'basics' as it were, is mostly from the fact that I do not keep snakes myself, and as such don't know some universal rudimentary signals (except from seeing a wee baby Corn rattle at me, which would have killed me just from cuteness overload).
 

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Difficult question but well done for asking!

One top tip is that snakes 'tend' to sleep during the day and although they look awake when you reach for one it might be in its deepest cycle of sleep.....it wakes up quickly as you touch it and bham.....it tags you, more from defensive reaction than anything else.

anyway, enough about tagging, biting etc.

Some other things to think about.....if a snake is genuinely relaxed (and not asleep!:whistling2:) it will be gently moving around flicking its tongue. Tongue flicking is a sign of a healthy individual having an explore.

If it suddenly moves backwards and coils its head, it is probably suddenly spooked, after a few minutes it will start to relax and unwind to start its explore again.

When you hold it, let it slide between your hands, don't grip it. As it slithers over you you'll sense that it is tense, as it relaxes in your company and accepts you as non-threatening, you'll feel it relax physically and it won't grip you so hard. Generally, they like to keep parts of their body gripped quite tight, but if you sense its whole body tense then it is probably stressed or nervous. Again, after a few minutes it will relax.

You might think this is weird, especially as snakes don't have ears, but try talking calmly to a snake. I think this does two things. The snake can sense vibration and will be lulled by your clam gentle voice but, probably more importantly, it forces you to stay calm and relaxed - something the snake will pick up on and appreciate.

Anyway, I've probably strayed well off topic....but so what? I like the sound of my own keyboard. :2thumb:

I envy your job and admire your commitment to the care of the animals in your charge!
 
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