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  1. #1
    Don't Push My Buttons JLC's Avatar
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    Hey all...

    The reason I don't already have my own bp is because my husband really doesn't like snakes and distrusts them completely. He did allow us to get a colubrid to help foster our daughter's interest. Since then, my love for the animals has only grown and he's seen this and respects this. But still can't bring himself to trust them.

    Last night, he said it might be possible for me to get my own bp this summer after we move again and get settled into our new home. His primary reservation is that it is a "dangerous" constricting animal and we have a small child. Our youngest is 19 months right now.

    Now...I'm a grown, mature, responsible woman. I know the dangers any wild animal can pose. Actually, ANY animal, period...wild or domesticated. I would never allow the snake to be draped over my son's shoulders or neck. I would never allow the snake to be handled outside of my presence. I've already got plans to buy a really nice enclosure with a key-lock to keep curious toddler hands out of. (And to keep escape-artists IN!)

    But all this is not quite enough to comfort my husband's fears. What he wants is hard numbers, studies, statistics.... He's an Air Force officer with an engineering degree...what else would you expect? He's not interested in "opinions" from snake lovers because "those would all be biased."

    To sum up a rambling post...Do any of you know of any studies or reports or articles that show the anual number of non-venomous snake attacks in the US? Do any of you know of ANY instances of a small child being seriously injured by a ball python?

    And besides that, I would still like to collect as much anecdotal evidence as I can from experienced keepers...despite hubby's distrust of "biased" keepers. So please share your personal experiences regarding bp's attacking, wrapping, and constricting humans.

    Thank you for your patience in wading through all this, and for any help you may offer!
    -- Judy

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran Marla's Avatar
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    Judy,
    You have raised some excellent questions. I have heard of a number of injuries and deaths resulting from constricting snakes in the US, but not one I've ever heard of was from a ball python. Burmese are an entirely different matter, though.

    I have lived with 6 ball pythons (though the last three only for a matter of weeks), and have never been bitten or injured. One of my snakes did bite my roommate once, but it was definitely her fault as she smelled like the mouse she'd put into the cage and put her hand in the cage to prod the mouse who wasn't moving. Warmth + mousey smell + motion = feeding error bite. The snake immediately recognized her error and withdrew and the bite was so minor that all the trauma of it was psychological.

    That said, I definitely would not leave any python alone with any small child for any period of time. My girls are 11 and 13 and I still supervise them with the snakes, though not as closely as I would a toddler or preschooler. In fact, I'd be disinclined to let a toddler hold the snake solo, but that's more for the snake's protection than the toddler's.

    Ball pythons are not, as a rule, snakes that defend themselves by striking or contricting, they do it by hiding in a ball. The largest ball python can only eat large rats or small bunnies, so with the fact that very few of them defend themselves aggressively and humans are not potential prey means that they are very unlikely to hurt you. The biggest risks are from salmonella or internal parasites or from an unsupervised constrictor wrapped around a toddler's neck. I'd suggest you consider offering to give up or exchange your bp if it turns out to be one of the rare aggressive ones.

    I don't think your husband really needs to trust the snake(s) though; he needs to trust you and that you wouldn't do anything to put your children at significant risk. You don't let the toddler bounce around in the back seat while you're driving, do you? Play near a swimming pool unsupervised? Cook himself a nice snack? I'm sure you don't. If you can get your husband to see that you're not talking about a nippy colubrid or giant Burmese or Anaconda or venomous coral snake, but a constrictor that will never be large enough to see a human child as a prey item, and that you absolutely keep the health and safety of your children in mind, I think that's the key that will eventually open the door.

    Good luck!

    Marla
    3.1.1 BP (Snyder, Hanover, Bo Peep, Sir NAITF, Eve), 1.2.3 Rhacodactylus ciliatus (Sandiego, Carmen, Scooby, Camo, BABIES ), 1.0 Chow (Buddha), 0.2 cats (Jezebel, PCBH "Nanners"), 0.3 humans
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  3. #3
    BPnet Veteran RPlank's Avatar
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    I am certainly no snake expert, but I do have both snakes and small children (10 snakes, and four children, ages 9, 6, 4, and 19 months.)
    There are some of my snakes that I trust to be handled by the kids more than others. This just comes from knowing the personality of the kids and the "snakonality" of the snake.

    As far as hard facts and figures, this is the best I could come up with:

    Here is a link to a page at the National Safety Council's website. They itemize deaths by accidental causes per year. These figures are from the year 2000. Here is a snippet:

    Bitten or crushed by other reptiles, W59----------------31

    This figure includes ALL reptiles in the US, including alligators, snakes, specimens kept in zoo's, etc, but does NOT include death by envenomation.

    The only information I could find specific to constricting snakes killing people was the following article regarding a teenager in Commerce City, Colorado (10 minutes from me!) who was killed by the family's Burmese Python. Read about it here.

    I have been a cop in Colorado for 10 years, and this is the ONLY incident I have ever heard of in Colorado involving a constictor killing someone. I have NEVER heard of a Ball Python killing ANYONE, EVER.
    They are too small, and do not constrict as a defense mechanism. Any human is WAAAAAAAY too big for a BP to consider a prey item, and if they feel threatened, they either slither away, ball up, or strike. I have been bitten once. It scared me more than it hurt. Their teeth are so small and sharp, it's like being poked with needles.....no biggie.

    IF you put them around the neck, as I do when I hold them, they will sometimes tighten up if I move quickly, and they feel they are going to fall. An adult human will have absolutely zero trouble removing a BP from around someones neck, if that person is uncomfortable with the BP.

    To reiterate, I have NEVER heard of a Ball Python seriously injuring or killing anyone. Burms and Retics, yes. They get very large, and have very strong feeding responses.

    In closing, here is a picture I took a month or two ago of my then 17 month old daughter handling Zeus, one of my '03 BP's:


    And a pic of my four year old son handling my adult male BP, Joe:


    (I do let my kids drape them around their neck, but notice they are sitting on furniture, so the snake doesn't have to hold on around the neck(possibly too tight) with the back half while the front half looks for a way off.....they just slither on down.)

    From personal experience, I am more concerned about my kids contracting Salmonella (been there, done that), than being bitten and/or constricted by a BP. Before your hubby raises the salmonella alarm, it is easily combatted by not letting your snakes free roam, and washing with antibacterial soap after handling your snakes or their enclosures.

    Now when you want to get a boa or something bigger than a ball, ask again......:


    Good luck!!!!!!!
    Randy

    "I think it might be helpful for everyone to remember that the purpose of a forum like this is to EXCHANGE IDEAS, not dictate what is right or wrong or good or bad. If you disagree with what someone else is suggesting, you can say so without being argumentative or completely slamming the guy (or girl)." - Smynx

  4. #4
    Don't Push My Buttons JLC's Avatar
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    Randy, that is precisely the sort of information and anecdotes I'm looking for! Thank you! I have found many reports and articles about large constrictors, but nothing quite so detailed as the National Safety statistics you provided. And I honestly didn't expect to find a single relavent thing about bp's...which is why I also asked for personal experience and opinion. Just to impress my husband, I'm going to write up a formal "report" of my own, just for him, and will cite comments like yours with all the proper bibliography. If nothing else, he will get a kick out of it. And those pictures are priceless!!! I've seen the one of your daughter on the KS forum before, but have never seen the others. I don't think I'll show hubby the one with the boa though......... LOL Your kids are adorable!

    Marla...your last paragraph sums up exactly what I've been wanting to express but couldn't quite find the words. Thank you so much! I will conclude my "report" with that very argument!

    Thanks tons, guys. And for anyone else reading this...I'm still collecting info!
    -- Judy

  5. #5
    BPnet Veteran CTReptileRescue's Avatar
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    There has been no cases of death by Ball python. as stated above.
    As many of you already know, my husband and I own and operate (out of our home) Rusty's Dragons. We averagely have approximately 60+ herps and arachnids in the house at one time. We also have a four year old son.
    Thankfully we have never had incident. We also take severe precations as one mistake can cause a tragedy and another horrible story for herp phobic people to read about.
    Our son is only to ever touch an animal when Rusty or daddy say it is ok, when we are about to feed Merlin and Grandma (the big burms) he knows to immediately go play in his room, (we have him stay in there for a few reasons during feeding, 1 his protection, 2 the snakes protection, and 3 our protection). Now remember these are 17 foot snakes that CAN do harm to a human.
    A ball python on the other hand is a wonderfull snake to have around children as long as you have a responsible adult to care for the animal and supervise. We personally do not let the ball pythons drape on our childs neck (Or ours either accually) but that is our own choice, (I accually support the way Randy has his children sitting and calm with the snakes) so it is really up to you.
    We being a rescue are in the public eye alott. So we act at home as we would in public showing the upmost responsibilty in the care for our herps and the safety of us and our child.
    Well i've gotten off the subject, sorry about that.
    The bottom line is that as long as your child is supervised during interaction between them and the snake in question, you will be fine.
    Locking the cage is always a good choice. We have locks on all of our cges and they are l;iterally more for show. (except the accually "dangerouse" animals that we own, the locks are for safety then) but we even have locks on our cornsnake and leopard gecko enclosures. I trust our son fully, but he is a smart kid and might someday feel adventurouse, it is better to prevent accidents sometimes then haveing to learn from mistakes (ecspecially when you are talking about your children and your animals).
    You sound like you are a very responsible person and a good parent. So does your husband, many times if you have a good head on your shoulders it comes down to good old fashion common sence. Which I can see you have.
    I hope you are able to get your ball python, it will help you and definately help your children to better understand the respect that all reptiles deserve.
    CT Reptile Rescue
    Rescue, Rehabilitation & Education
    For all Reptiles & Amphibians
    CTReptileRescue@Comcast.net
    (website coming soon)

    Please help support:
    http://www.kidney.org/
    http://www.americanheart.org/
    http://www.liverfoundation.org/

  6. #6
    BPnet Veteran Marla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JLC
    Marla...your last paragraph sums up exactly what I've been wanting to express but couldn't quite find the words. Thank you so much! I will conclude my "report" with that very argument!
    Judy, good luck with your project. I rather suspect that your husband is logical and will agree to your having a ball python when presented both with evidence that it's not dangerous (in comparison to other pets, like cats) and that you really are informed and prepared to deal with safety and other needs. I'm glad you found my argument useful in supporting your position.
    3.1.1 BP (Snyder, Hanover, Bo Peep, Sir NAITF, Eve), 1.2.3 Rhacodactylus ciliatus (Sandiego, Carmen, Scooby, Camo, BABIES ), 1.0 Chow (Buddha), 0.2 cats (Jezebel, PCBH "Nanners"), 0.3 humans
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  7. #7
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    You know what my dad said when I was 10 and wanted a bp?

    "No way in heck are you getting another snake! Especially one of those "muscle" snakes!"

    It just requires some working the system

  8. #8
    BPnet Veteran Marla's Avatar
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    Judy, I finally found something with stats for you. Melissa Kaplan has some excellent reptile info of various sorts on her site, and according to this, there's an average of 0.0 deaths per year from non-Burmese pythons (including ball). You might also find some data from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, part of the CDC, or the National Center for Health Statistics.
    3.1.1 BP (Snyder, Hanover, Bo Peep, Sir NAITF, Eve), 1.2.3 Rhacodactylus ciliatus (Sandiego, Carmen, Scooby, Camo, BABIES ), 1.0 Chow (Buddha), 0.2 cats (Jezebel, PCBH "Nanners"), 0.3 humans
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  9. #9
    BPnet Veteran Marla's Avatar
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    And here's info on your biggest risk from bp's: salmonella infection from the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which my mother used to edit. There are no other links from the Browse By Animals (Reptiles Section). The AVMA believes salmonella is prevantable with proper handling. Also, the ARAV has publications which may interest you, as well as some good-looking links.

    Also, here's a quote from this National Geographic article which might be useful to you:

    "Compared to deaths caused by horses, dogs, and other humans, snakebites result in very few human deaths," said Reed.

    According to Whit Gibbons, head of the Environmental Outreach and Education program at the Savannah River Ecology Lab, humans stand a better chance at being killed by an earthquake or volcano—1 in11 million—or by drinking a lethal dose of detergent—1 in 23 million—than death by snakebite—1 in 36 million.
    And for the bonus prize, a listing of injuries and "attacks" caused by exhibited animals which apparently considers escaping an enclusure and "slithering" (ooh! scary!) to be an attack.
    3.1.1 BP (Snyder, Hanover, Bo Peep, Sir NAITF, Eve), 1.2.3 Rhacodactylus ciliatus (Sandiego, Carmen, Scooby, Camo, BABIES ), 1.0 Chow (Buddha), 0.2 cats (Jezebel, PCBH "Nanners"), 0.3 humans
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  10. #10
    Don't Push My Buttons JLC's Avatar
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    It worked!

    Thanks Marla! I'd found several of those and used them in my paper. The "Bonus prize" is really interesting!

    Anyhow...it all worked and hubby is finally convinced as to the harmlessness of ball pythons, or at the very least, my ability to keep our children safe from such a critter!
    -- Judy

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