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  1. #1
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    How to get a snake to relax?

    My snake has a rather flighty personality at the moment. He's young (3 months) so I am hoping he changes when he grows but how can I help make him more relaxed and calm?

    He is not a shy snake. He has never balled up once, doesn't hide his head. When I come by the enclosure he peeks his head out of the hide to look what's going on. He roams the enclosure at night and is adventurous. So not shy I would say.
    But he has a "fight or flight" personality everytime I want to make contact with him. If I move my hand into the tank he starts to get in a defensive position and starts heaving heavily. I mean he takes massive breaths out of fear which I can see because his flanks move heavily. When I begin to touch him he shys away from my touch and if he can he tries to flee. When I finally pick him up he stays in a defensive position for a while. Not curled or balled up but fixiated on me. After a while he begins to move on my hand. And then it's flight time. He moves extremely fast for a BP so I can bearly keep up with holding him. He tries to get of my hands to get anywhere else. Tries to get on my body, nearby furniture ect. It seems he tries anything to get away from my touch .

    I know snakes don't enjoy beeing handled but what can I do to make him calm and relaxed like other ball pythons?
    I get him out of the enclosure once or twice a week for appr. 15-20 minutes. No improvement so far.

  2. #2
    BPnet Lifer KMG's Avatar
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    Stop looking for instant gratification. It takes time for snakes to learn you're not a threat. You are huge compared to them so of course they get scared. Just do what you are doing. Be calm, don't force things, and take it slow.

    With that some snakes just like to be on the move. My Ball and big Blood will lay around my neck and hang out. My male Blood is a mover as is most of my others. Each is different and maybe your Ball just likes to be in the move and explore. My Ball will ball often and takes time to open up and relax and I've had her for almost 10 years.
    Last edited by KMG; 10-04-2021 at 02:30 AM.
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  4. #3
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    Stay very patient- some percentage of snakes are just like this- first, all snakes are instinctively afraid when we pick them up- because in nature, the only thing that normally would pick them up is a predator about to eat them, so that's what their instincts are telling them is happening, & that's why they're hyper sensitive about handling. I have 2 snakes currently like this, & I've known others over the years. Most will get calmer but may never get as calm as some other snakes- but still, the feeling of accomplishment makes them rather special pets anyway. Like the opposite would be my Trans Pecos rat snakes- if I sit down & lightly pet them, they'll sometimes fall asleep on my lap, which is pretty unusual for a snake- not at all typical for a snake to be so trusting, & it's very cute when it happens.

    BPs are usually pretty mellow too, but it sounds like you have one of the exceptions, but he's still young. It really helps to sit down & relax yourself when you hold a snake like this, & remember that the most stress for them is when we approach & pick them up, so if you only hold them briefly, they never learn to relax with you- so I'd suggest you watch a movie or something while you hold this snake- in other words, take some real time, like an hour. Never hold a snake too tightly- that just makes them panic & want to flee- so always keep a light touch to control them, & I hope it goes without saying that you never hold their neck tightly- that would panic you or I, & it's no better for them. Something I've found that often seems to relax snakes is a slight swaying motion- don't ask me why, as it doesn't make sense, but I've calmed more snakes down by sitting in a slowly swaying hammock, or slightly rocking a recliner chair while holding them, or even a slight swaying motion just while standing. It seems to make them relax- either that or WE relax & they can somehow sense that? Take your pick- I just know it helps.

    Stop telling yourself that snakes don't like to be handled- work on empathy & think positive. Snakes want to feel safe so when you hold him do so in ways that he feels sheltered by you, not out in the open (where snakes feel vulnerable to predators).
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 10-04-2021 at 03:01 AM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  6. #4
    BPnet Senior Member dakski's Avatar
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    Re: How to get a snake to relax?

    1. Time and patience. He's young and young snakes are often afraid and rightfully so. You are huge to them and they don't want to get hurt eaten. Snakes are instinctual more than thinking animals like us. Survive, eat, breed.

    2. Be gentle. Let hime explore if he wants. Be gentle with him and let him move around, but keep him supported. He wants to feel safe and that he won't fall, but I think it's good that he's inquisitive.

    3. Keep handling short and not too often. Until you learn to read your snake, keep handling sessions to 5 minutes or so and slowly work your way up a little. Also, do not handle daily. Maybe every other day at the most until he's bigger and calmer (if he gets there).

    My BP, Shayna, is 9 years old now and she still gets stressed after about 10 minutes of handling. Of course, it takes her 2-3 minutes to become less shy. . That's who she is. However, I don't try to make her what I want, instead, I work with her. I also have 7 snakes, so handling her often and for long period isn't needed to satisfy my reptile itch. I have other snakes who tolerate handling much better.

    I mentioned that it's good that he's inquisitive. He may just be an explorer. My boas are like that, and my Carpet Python especially. My CP, Yafe, is a mover, but he's gentle and tolerates handling. I let him do his thing and don't try to restrain him too much, but rather support him and encourage him.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

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  8. #5
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    Re: How to get a snake to relax?

    I try to do all these things but I am not sure if he can relax. How long does it usually take for babies to grow out of the angsty phase?

  9. #6
    Registered User Erie_herps's Avatar
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    I agree, be patient and don't rush. Did you just get him? If you recently got him you should wait 2 weeks before unnecessary handling. The more cover the enclosure has and the smaller it is the better, it offers more security and ball pythons are usually flighty snakes.

  10. #7
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    Re: How to get a snake to relax?

    I get my Royals out then sit down as soon as possible and let them slither over my lap / legs .. when they are nearly off I just gently ease them back on my lap and continued do so .. after a very short while they just curl up nicely.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro




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  12. #8
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    Re: How to get a snake to relax?

    Quote Originally Posted by CakeLike View Post
    I try to do all these things but I am not sure if he can relax. How long does it usually take for babies to grow out of the angsty phase?
    We're all individuals & so are the snakes we live with. It takes as long as it takes.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  14. #9
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    Re: How to get a snake to relax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Erie_herps View Post
    I agree, be patient and don't rush. Did you just get him? If you recently got him you should wait 2 weeks before unnecessary handling. The more cover the enclosure has and the smaller it is the better, it offers more security and ball pythons are usually flighty snakes.
    Three weeks. And I left him alone a full week at the start.

  15. #10
    BPnet Lifer KMG's Avatar
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    Re: How to get a snake to relax?

    Quote Originally Posted by CakeLike View Post
    I try to do all these things but I am not sure if he can relax. How long does it usually take for babies to grow out of the angsty phase?
    Quote Originally Posted by CakeLike View Post
    Three weeks. And I left him alone a full week at the start.
    How long does it take? Longer than two weeks. Lol! Two weeks is nothing. I know in today's world of instant gratification it seems like an eternity but it's not. Not everything is like Amazon Prime. Some young Bloods I got years ago took months to settle down and trust me.

    The most important thing for a snake keeper to do in my opinion is RELAX.
    KMG
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