Vote for BP.Net for the 2013 Forum of the Year! Click here for more info.

» Site Navigation

» Home
 > FAQ

» Online Users: 404

7 members and 397 guests
Most users ever online was 6,337, 01-24-2020 at 03:30 AM.

» Today's Birthdays

Andy Rose (57)
lanswyfte (53)

» Stats

Members: 71,616
Threads: 245,685
Posts: 2,546,129
Top Poster: JLC (31,651)
Welcome to our newest member, MattMass1
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12
  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    06-25-2020
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    3
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Question Curbing severe aggression in hatchling?

    Hi all,

    I've been working with ball pythons for about 7 years now. While I'm familiar with ball python behavior and care, this is my first time with a hatchling from a breeder (the rest have not been my own animals, or have been rescues; I've worked with hatchlings at a nature center briefly, but the clutch didn't make it) and I'm running into some issues. I bought my female pastel Mojave from a breeder unfed/unshed at a week old earlier this year, hatch date approx. May 31. She had yet to take a meal five weeks after she'd hatched, and with my previous experience working with a clutch that died before their first successful meal, I panicked. After trying live food, ASFs (both f/t and alive), scenting, and so on, I assist fed her (when I probably should have waited it out) and she was not happy about it. Before this, she was very docile and had no problem with being handled.

    Now, it's been almost three months of her acting extremely aggressively because she's still so scared of me after the feeding. It's to the point where she strikes at me whenever I even pass by the glass to her terrarium and I have to put on bite-proof gloves to change her water, keep humidity up, and so on because otherwise she strikes - and keeps striking - even after I've left the room. I worry she'll injure herself in the process because she basically launches herself at me/the glass. I've tried a few different methods of getting her to calm down, like not handling her until she gets settled, handling her often and "cupping" her when she strikes, and the like, but I haven't had any success so far. Temps and humidity are right, she has a lot of hiding places, she's eating f/t weekly just fine, and she's currently in a 70 gallon Vision cage with solid sides. I've never had a problem with this kind of aggression, she doesn't even hiss or coil before striking; she's always tense and S-shaping, but no warnings apart from that. I'm curious to see if anyone else has had this problem or something similar happen, and if so, how they went about correcting this behavior. Specifically, I'm wondering about what I can be doing differently right now, if it's too late to fix my error, and what the time frame might be for getting her accustomed to handling again. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran
    Join Date
    06-07-2018
    Posts
    249
    Thanks
    279
    Thanked 247 Times in 148 Posts
    Images: 1
    I would definitely try moving this baby down to a smaller tub. 70 gallons is a lot of space and doesn't offer nearly as much security as this baby may think it needs. Even with a multitude of hides, it may not be getting the right feel for comfort. We always think more space is great when really, she may just need a little cramped 6qt or 12 qt tub for a few weeks.
    Honestly, this may be why she was giving you so much trouble feeding as well if that was her first setup.

    Set her up in a little tub. Make sure the temps are good. The frosted look of the sides is usually enough to settle them down some, but you may still need to offer a little hide box or can tape some dark paper to the outside.
    Give her some time to settle in. No handling at all. And then try with short little sessions after she's gotten 2 good meals in.

    Baby steps from the beginning and hopefully she'll turn around for you. This is what helped for my feisty defensive babies
    Last edited by Armiyana; 09-13-2021 at 01:23 PM.

  3. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Armiyana For This Useful Post:

    Alicia (09-13-2021),Bogertophis (09-13-2021),GoingPostal (09-13-2021),nikkubus (09-13-2021)

  4. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    05-25-2018
    Posts
    132
    Thanks
    43
    Thanked 138 Times in 68 Posts
    Images: 4

    Re: Curbing severe aggression in hatchling?

    Wow sounds like a handful. A few things to think about.
    When an animal acts defensively and then gets the wanted response from the predator it reinforces that behavior. For example you open your enclosure and attempt to reach in for whatever reason. Your snake thinks you're a predator so it hisses and strikes when you get close. You jump back and close the cage and leave it alone. In the snakes world that is about as good as that situation gets.

    If the snake isn't eating, I would cover all sides of the cage to limit its stress. Especially if its striking when you walk by. Only bother it to clean and change water.
    Work on getting it eating consistently.

    If the snake is eating, I would still cover the enclosure just to reduce its general stress. but then I would start handling the snake. Eventually it will learn you are at most an unpleasant experience, but not a threat. I still have snakes that hiss and puff sometimes when I pick them up but put up with it.

    Ending your handling sessions on a good note. Don't put them back if there not relaxed. If you pull it out and its striking, try putting him halfway on the floor. While still holding the back half, try to get him to start to slither away and keep moving your hands up underneath until it's just you holding him while he's moving. I usually don't handle for more than a few minutes at a time.

    As mentioned above a smaller tub size might be a real help to make it feel more secure.

    Good luck



    Sent from my SM-G930W8 using Tapatalk
    Last edited by MattEvans; 09-13-2021 at 01:38 PM.

  5. The Following User Says Thank You to MattEvans For This Useful Post:

    Armiyana (09-13-2021)

  6. #4
    BPnet Senior Member EL-Ziggy's Avatar
    Join Date
    11-05-2014
    Location
    GA
    Posts
    3,993
    Thanks
    4,486
    Thanked 5,100 Times in 2,531 Posts

    Re: Curbing severe aggression in hatchling?

    Have you tried hook training? Tapping most of my snakes with a hook usually calms them down right away.
    3.2 Carpet Pythons, 1.1 Bullsnakes
    1.0 Olive Python 1.0 Scrub Python,
    1.0 BI, 0.1 BO,

  7. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    06-25-2020
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    3
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Curbing severe aggression in hatchling?

    Quote Originally Posted by Armiyana View Post
    I would definitely try moving this baby down to a smaller tub. 70 gallons is a lot of space and doesn't offer nearly as much security as this baby may think it needs. Even with a multitude of hides, it may not be getting the right feel for comfort. We always think more space is great when really, she may just need a little cramped 6qt or 12 qt tub for a few weeks.
    Honestly, this may be why she was giving you so much trouble feeding as well if that was her first setup.

    Set her up in a little tub. Make sure the temps are good. The frosted look of the sides is usually enough to settle them down some, but you may still need to offer a little hide box or can tape some dark paper to the outside.
    Give her some time to settle in. No handling at all. And then try with short little sessions after she's gotten 2 good meals in.

    Baby steps from the beginning and hopefully she'll turn around for you. This is what helped for my feisty defensive babies
    Thanks for your reply. I originally had her in a 20 long with the sides blacked out; she became aggressive while still in there, though the cage was very cluttered. I'll try moving her to a smaller enclosure with more hiding places for now, but I want to be clear: I am not comfortable with putting her in a tub/bin setup as meant for a rack. Without getting into it, I personally (having worked in rehabilitation and veterinary offices) do not consider rack setups to be ethical for any reptiles, particularly not ones that get 4-6 ft long... I'd strongly prefer to not have to move her around too much if at all possible. But that's beside the point. I appreciate your reply and I'll give a smaller enclosure and no handling a shot. She's been eating well every week since the assist feeding.
    Quote Originally Posted by MattEvans View Post
    Wow sounds like a handful. A few things to think about.
    When an animal acts defensively and then gets the wanted response from the predator it reinforces that behavior. For example you open your enclosure and attempt to reach in for whatever reason. Your snake thinks you're a predator so it hisses and strikes when you get close. You jump back and close the cage and leave it alone. In the snakes world that is about as good as that situation gets.

    If the snake isn't eating, I would cover all sides of the cage to limit its stress. Especially if its striking when you walk by. Only bother it to clean and change water.
    Work on getting it eating consistently.

    If the snake is eating, I would still cover the enclosure just to reduce its general stress. but then I would start handling the snake. Eventually it will learn you are at most an unpleasant experience, but not a threat. I still have snakes that hiss and puff sometimes when I pick them up but put up with it.

    Ending your handling sessions on a good note. Don't put them back if there not relaxed. If you pull it out and its striking, try putting him halfway on the floor. While still holding the back half, try to get him to start to slither away and keep moving your hands up underneath until it's just you holding him while he's moving. I usually don't handle for more than a few minutes at a time.

    As mentioned above a smaller tub size might be a real help to make it feel more secure.

    Good luck
    Thanks for your reply as well Matt. Like I said, I've been trying to curb this behavior by taking her out and "cupping" her when she strikes, I saw a video on how this can reduce aggression and get them to try to escape rather than attack. So far it hasn't really been working even after a good while of handling (EDIT: by "good while" I mean the months I've had her. I don't handle her for more than a few minutes at a time). She's in a front-opening Vision cage right now, so 3/4 of the sides and the top are covered. Should I be covering the front side as well? She has been eating regularly since the assist feeding, and in fact, quite well. I'll give your advice a shot and give an update in a few weeks.
    Last edited by Undersea; 09-13-2021 at 01:50 PM.

  8. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    06-25-2020
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    3
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Curbing severe aggression in hatchling?

    Quote Originally Posted by EL-Ziggy View Post
    Have you tried hook training? Tapping most of my snakes with a hook usually calms them down right away.
    I have a hook, but that's something I haven't tried. Do you just poke them with it and then pick them up?

  9. #7
    BPnet Senior Member EL-Ziggy's Avatar
    Join Date
    11-05-2014
    Location
    GA
    Posts
    3,993
    Thanks
    4,486
    Thanked 5,100 Times in 2,531 Posts

    Re: Curbing severe aggression in hatchling?

    Quote Originally Posted by Undersea View Post
    I have a hook, but that's something I haven't tried. Do you just poke them with it and then pick them up?
    Don’t poke him with the hook but gently tap or rub him with it. Eventually the hook let’s them know there’s no food coming and they’re either about to be handled or I’ll be doing some cage maintenance. I have some fairly large snakes, with very strong prey drives, and the hook works great for all but one of them. I also wouldn’t label most, if any snakes, as aggressive. They’re either scared/defensive or hungry when they bite. Hopefully your BP will settle down soon.
    3.2 Carpet Pythons, 1.1 Bullsnakes
    1.0 Olive Python 1.0 Scrub Python,
    1.0 BI, 0.1 BO,

  10. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to EL-Ziggy For This Useful Post:

    Alicia (09-13-2021),Armiyana (09-13-2021),Bogertophis (09-13-2021)

  11. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    05-25-2018
    Posts
    132
    Thanks
    43
    Thanked 138 Times in 68 Posts
    Images: 4

    Re: Curbing severe aggression in hatchling?

    I would cover the front aswell.

    Sent from my SM-G930W8 using Tapatalk

  12. #9
    BPnet Veteran
    Join Date
    06-07-2018
    Posts
    249
    Thanks
    279
    Thanked 247 Times in 148 Posts
    Images: 1

    Re: Curbing severe aggression in hatchling?

    I worked Veterinary before as well. Personal preference and belief is fine. But sometimes you just have to go by what is right for the animal. Case in point.... my cat who is extremely allergic to humans. She's stuck with us regardless.

    This is a species that typically likes to hole up in termite mounds in the wild. While most of mine would be fine with a good size vision cage as adults. I currently have one very defensive hatchling that did the same thing as yours in a 10 gallon that is now perfectly tame in a tub. Once she's a bit older, we're going to re-evaluate and see about moving her out. My eldest female is extremely defensive and will constantly strike at the glass, she cannot be in an enclosure with a glass wall for her own safety.

    I'd love to be able to have that girl in a vision, lol. But then I'd have a lot of nose rub and stress related illness with her. lol
    Last edited by Armiyana; 09-13-2021 at 02:43 PM.

  13. #10
    BPnet Veteran Caitlin's Avatar
    Join Date
    08-11-2019
    Posts
    350
    Thanks
    825
    Thanked 767 Times in 275 Posts
    Images: 36
    I think you did a great job of identifying what probably led to this. Hopefully the two of you can get past it with time and patience!

    As suggested, I'd perhaps get her into a smaller tub setup - even just a 12-quart Iris or Sterilite tub might be a good idea. Be sure she has access to snug hides that touch her sides and back. It's possible that you could maintain her in her current enclosure if you block the sides and back and provide her with lots of clutter and hides.

    I'd stop handling her altogether until she's clearly settled. While I agree with El-Ziggy that hook training is often a good place to start, I have to say that in a case like this where a baby snake is simply terrified, I'm not sure I would start with hook training. My personal preference with snakes like this is to use a strategy called choice-based handling that allows the snake to gradually adjust to your presence on their own terms. It takes time, but in my experience so far with multiple snakes of various species, the results are more than worth it.

    I learned choice-based handling from an animal behaviorist and trainer who specializes in working with snakes - pythons in particular but other snakes as well. I'll link a video below she did on first steps in choice-based handling.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ljt...el=LoriTorrini
    Last edited by Caitlin; 09-13-2021 at 02:53 PM.
    1.0 Jungle Carpet Python 'Ziggy'
    0.1 Brazilian Rainbow Boa 'Mara'
    1.1 Tarahumara Mountain Boas 'Paco' and 'Frida'
    2.0 Dumeril's Boas 'Gyre' and 'Titan'
    1.0 Stimson's Python 'Jake'
    1.1 Children's Pythons 'Miso' and 'Ozzy'
    1.0 Anthill Python 'Cricket'
    1.0 Plains Hognose 'Peanut'
    1.1 Rough-scaled Sand Boas 'Rassi' and 'Kala'
    0.4 Oregon Red-spotted Garters
    1.0 Ball Python (BEL) 'Sugar'
    1.0 Gray-banded Kingsnake 'Nacho'
    1.0 Green Tree Python (Aru) 'Jade'

  14. The Following User Says Thank You to Caitlin For This Useful Post:

    Bogertophis (09-13-2021)

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v4.2.1