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Thread: Odd behaviour

  1. #1
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    Odd behaviour

    So my ball python, Seven, has been quite fiesty since I got her, an agressive feeder, has some days where she would trike at me, but overall, perfectly calm and docile when picked up. I've had her for about 2 months, and she's never given me any trouble when handling her. She's perfectly relaxed, will hold on to my arm, and crawl around. Until about a week ago where she did something very weird. I was showing her to some of my friends, and she was fine, not tensing or balling up, then suddenly started constrivting around my hand, very very tightly, and trying to bite me. Now, im not mistaking it for her holding on for support, it's completely different. She's very small (147 g) and she was REALLY tight around my hand, with all her muscles really tense, and it was very difficult to pry her off. She had never acted this way before.

    Since then, she's started to do that ocassionally, which makes me a little nervous about handling. Not that she could do my any harm, but im also worried about hurting her when prying her off. She will be fine one moment, and then start wrapping around my hand and tightening a lot, and usually I would put her down then.

    So:

    -My hands don't smell of food when I handle her

    -Could she have gotten scared of people when I was showing her?

    -Why is she acting like this? Have you ever had a ball python that did this?

    -What should I do in that situation? Should I handle her daily? Should I be putting her back in her tank when she does this?


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    Re: Odd behaviour

    So first off I don't pretend to be an expert or have all the answers, but here are a few tips from "experience": baby snakes, particularly ball pythons, can be extra snappy. Additionaly some snakes are more inclined to be aggressive, and you even said it's not unusual for your snake to take a poke at you. That said, anytime any of my snakes do anything strange I try to find a reason, often the cause is a husbandry issue(stress is the biggest reason a snake is agressive, particularly babies because their instincts have two responses to other animals. "Food or foe" either way bitting results) Animals stressed by poor husbandry often act strange. Check humidity, heat, general cleanliness of the cage ect. If your husbandry is on point I would check for other causes of stress, including possible illness.(although unlikely, especially if you got her from a reputable source) How often do you handle your snake? Over handling can cause stress too. As far as what to do when she wraps up your hand, just gently set your hand in the enclosure and see if she will crawl off herself. I wouldn't think that just showing her off to your friends would cause aggression like this. You didn't say how long she's been "snappy" either, unless it persists I really wouldn't worry. Just work on handling her in a positive way, and look for signs of a "freaked" snake.(headshy, showing "strike position", tensing up, ect..) and put her away if she gets restless. Some days, if she's having a bad day, just let her be.

    Goodness that's a lot, hope it helps.

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    Re: Odd behaviour

    As far as I'm aware it's not husbandry. I've changed noothing since I got her and she never showed signs of stress until not. My humidity is at 65-70%, my warm hide is at 32 degrees celcius, there are two exactly the same hides, which fit her perfectly, she hides all day and comes out at night, I feed her every 5 days a rat 10-15% her weight.

    You see, if she was snapping at me, that's fine, I know some snakes do that, she might be a bit defensive. I could understand that. That, I don't mind.

    What I don't understand is why she suddenly started doing that thing where she would constrict around my hand. Because that's a thing I've never heard mentioned before anywhere, unless after the snake has bitten. But no, I'll pick her up, she's fine, not tense, not coiling up, and then after few minutes she would suddenly start wrapping around my hand, and sometimes trying to bite. At which point I usually try to stop her from coiling around my hand, and usually she doesn't bite then.

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    Re: Odd behaviour

    Okay, well it sounds like you did your research and that your husbandry is great. (So good work! it always makes me sad to see someone that has a snake for fails to care for it due to lack of research but I digress) The "constricting" behavior (addmitidly I've never heard of it either with BPs) seems almost as an attack response. I know some wild snakes(I'm thinking of Bullsnakes) that will "wrap" around an aggresor and bite repeatadly, so it still could be a stress response. The biggest thing I would do is pay close attention to how you handle her. Try less often and for shorter periods (especially if you handle her more than 3 times a week) working her up to longer periods and more frequency. Using slow and steady movement is a good idea to. Since you say she is active at night and eating frequently and consistently this makes me doubtful that the underlying cause is an illness, however a vet visit never hurts. Basically I would focus on developing a handling routine, keeping an eye out for any hidden "stress causes" and wouldn't be worried unless something else strange happens.
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    Registered User SDA's Avatar
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    Some days I will handle mine and he will be a blob just barely hanging on where I have to hold him with two hands. Sometimes he will be the derpiest spaz on the planet launching himself into an upside down slide and try and climb all over everything. Every so often he likes to squeeze the life out of me or at least pretend he is.

    None of these times is he showing any signs of stress or aggression. He simply has a mood that day and I have to say the days where he likes to wrap himself around my neck and squeeze for all his worth are both a great massage and a terrible way to slowly die.

    So not to worry too much. It could be a sense of not being secure and they tend to wrap around the arm like that or it could just be that they want to do it like mine will.


    You did say "which makes me a little nervous about handling". Snakes are really able to sense your tension. You need to learn trust and give trust. The best way to do this is to routinely handle your snake and above all else stay calm. The worst bite from a BP is nothing at all.

    Here is what I do. I feed my snake every week around the same time. After feeding I avoid handling for 2 days to allow him to digest and relax. I then take him out 2-3 times a week and that is it. I try and avoid handling a few days before feeding as well so he has a chance to mellow out before feeding day and because he is regular as clockwork and I know that come 5-6 days after feeding he is about to poop.

    Now when he turns pink belly and gets about in blue, I will avoid handling him at all until he sheds. Other than that, I try and get to him weekly.


    After 6 years I don't have a snake that begs to come out of the cage to be handled but I do have one that is perfectly at ease being handled and he does not strike or ball when I do so.
    Last edited by SDA; 09-12-2017 at 11:05 PM.

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    He might have freaked out when you "showed" him to your friends. To your snake, your friends are just giant, strange predators. I know my snakes do NOT like it if I take them out to display them to my friends.
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    Re: Odd behaviour

    I've only had my bp for about 2 months or so, so I am definitely no expert, but the advice given above all sounds really good. Make sure you aren't handling him too often, since that can definitely stress him out, and make sure you support him well when he is out. I wonder if maybe he felt like he was going to fall or something so he felt he needed to hold on for dear life? Having other "giant monsters" around when you hold him can also freak him out. I know my bp is much more relaxed when I'm holding him by myself than if I'm holding him with my boyfriend. Perhaps the lights in the room were too bright when you had him out? Maybe one of his scales got caught and it kinda hurt him or something? It can be really hard to learn snake behavior, especially if he's your first one and you haven't had him for a while, since they are all a bit different, but just try to make note of everything you can when this hand constricting happens and see if a pattern starts to emerge. Time of day, how long into holding it happened, how recently he's eaten or shed or pooed, the temperature or brightness of the room, how long it's been since the last time you held him, etc. It may seem silly, but it could be something very small, or he could just be in a weird mood that day.

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