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  1. #1
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    How do I built trust with my snake if it' possible

    I think my snake is afraid of me and that makes me really sad. I really try to give him a great life and provide for him well but of course he doesn't " know " that.

    Anyway I haven't interacted very much with him over the last few weeks. I have had him since september and he is 6 month old.
    I was so busy I took him out of the cage once a week, fed him around once a week. And the majority of the time he is undisdurbed because the cage is in a room I don't use every day.

    Now that I have more time again I wanted to focus more attention on him but I don't know how to make a positive connection. Every time I get in front of the glass he seems wary. And when I get him out on my hands he becomes the fastest ball python alife and tries hard to get away. He moves so fast that I have trouble controling him. Not relaxed at all.
    And I don't know if ball pythons can musk but every time I have him out for more than 5 minutes I have this very weird undefineable smell on my hands. Doesn't smell like pee.

    My temperatures are fine. The cage is not perfect but he is calm when he is alone there and hidden.

    In the past I have often gotten him out to do betadine baths because of scratches he got, so I am wondering if snakes have the ability to remember that and he now associates me with bad things. I don't know.

    What can I do to make him more calm in my presence? I really don't try to agiate him.

  2. #2
    BPnet Lifer KMG's Avatar
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    Give it time and handle it calmly and securely. Sit down with it on your lap or hold it against your body giving it good contact. You want it to feel secure. After that it's just time. It will probably relax around you but there is really no guarantee. My Ball still balls 9 times out of 10 when first taken out. She's been with me over 10 years but it's hardwired in. After I take her out she opens up in a few minutes and then calmly hangs around my neck.

    My youngest King has finally started to learn I'm not a bad guy and stopped musking me for the most part. He was very scared but with regular handling he's come a long way.
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  4. #3
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    Yes snakes remember negative interactions as well as positive. If you handled yours primarily to give it the betadine bath then it's no wonder he's running and musking.

    Fortunately this is easily fixed. I would put him in a small pillowcase, sit down, and put him on my lap. The pillowcase will make him feel like he has a hide and is safe, but while he is in there he will be smelling you and feeling you move around. He may stick his head out to look around, which would be great. You can also put a hand in front of the pillow case opening so he can smell you while feeling hidden and secure (just make sure your hand doesn't smell like rodent!). Eventually he will learn you are not a threat.
    Last edited by bcr229; 01-08-2022 at 10:08 AM.

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  6. #4
    Registered User Neko_snake's Avatar
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    Re: How do I built trust with my snake if it' possible

    Consistency is definitely key with any animal. If most of the interactions he's had are negative then he's going to be scared. Just to make sure you say he's moving around a lot, does he flick his tongue slowly when he does it or is it fast like he's trying to get away. I ask because sometimes my boyfriend's hands are too warm for ours snakes so I've noticed they'll be fine for a while then get the zoomies when they get too warm. Usually they find their way over to me or under a blanket or something but their tongues flick slowly so I know they're still in exploring mode and they're not afraid of being handled. Just want to make sure of all the options. Also I agree with the pillowcase method. My female BP loves to be in things. That makes her feel safe. She's much better now but it used to be the only method I could handle her.

    Sent from my moto z3 using Tapatalk

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  8. #5
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    I agree with ALL the above posts- & would just add to make sure that YOU are relaxed & taking your time. In my experiences, short handling sessions are more stressful for snakes than longer ones, because they feel the most fear when approached & first picked up. It takes time for them to get over their "fight or flight" instincts & realize they're not in danger.

    They all have their own personality (some calmer than others) as well as their own history (like the previous things you did that your snake didn't appreciate, lol)- but most do learn to trust us, some more than others, if WE show them we're "reliably safe".

    It takes empathy- remember how big WE are compared to them- they have GOOD reason to be afraid. And while it's not common, yes BPs can musk when stressed. So can rosy boas- it's just not as common as with some other kinds of snakes.

    And his fear when you're "in front of the glass" means nothing (!), it's not personal because many snakes (like your BP) don't use vision to really identify us- they just see a big looming creature that either means prey or predator. It's not until they get more cues from us (our touch & our scent) that they remember they do know us. Each time you handle or interact with your snake builds on that relationship.

    The "pillowcase on your lap" is an excellent suggestion- he can feel "hidden" while you gently restrain & softly touch him, & he'll be learning to feel safer with you & building the right impression.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

  9. #6
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    Yes the hide suggestion is something I wanted to try from now on as well. Since I have noticed he tries to find a secure place. I had him on my lap today and tge first thing he did was to try and squeeze into the crease of my closed legs to get away.
    He wanted to get off of me and away on the sofa.
    He seems always scared in the open.

  10. #7
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    Re: How do I built trust with my snake if it' possible

    Quote Originally Posted by Neko_snake View Post
    Consistency is definitely key with any animal. If most of the interactions he's had are negative then he's going to be scared. Just to make sure you say he's moving around a lot, does he flick his tongue slowly when he does it or is it fast like he's trying to get away. I ask because sometimes my boyfriend's hands are too warm for ours snakes so I've noticed they'll be fine for a while then get the zoomies when they get too warm. Usually they find their way over to me or under a blanket or something but their tongues flick slowly so I know they're still in exploring mode and they're not afraid of being handled. Just want to make sure of all the options. Also I agree with the pillowcase method. My female BP loves to be in things. That makes her feel safe. She's much better now but it used to be the only method I could handle her.

    Sent from my moto z3 using Tapatalk
    He does flick his tounge fast. Extremely fast even. So I can definately assume he is very agiated.
    They are fast short flicks compared to the long flicks he does when he is alone exploring the cage (and thinks I am not looking lol).

  11. #8
    Registered User Neko_snake's Avatar
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    Re: How do I built trust with my snake if it' possible

    Quote Originally Posted by CakeLike View Post
    He does flick his tounge fast. Extremely fast even. So I can definately assume he is very agiated.
    They are fast short flicks compared to the long flicks he does when he is alone exploring the cage (and thinks I am not looking lol).
    Makes sense. It's always worth asking just to make sure things are interpreted to the best of our knowledge. But again pillowcase method does wonders. Remember BP's are shy ambush predators so being out in the open typically goes against everything they know. They only come out when they're comfortable and confident. That's why the pillowcase works well. Let's them have a nice secure way to interact with you and also let's them smell you/know you're not a threat. Also I kinda agree with the longer training sessions. My female used to be reactive and would strike at anything but I would just wait her out until she stopped striking and basically did a behavior I liked so I gave her what she wanted which was to go back to her safe enclosure. A lot of animal training in general is waiting out the negative until they do a positive. Sometimes it's quick and sometimes like my girl it's a process. You don't want to go too long as that can stress an already stressed animal but say with yours if he's zooming around scared then let him zoom until he stops for just a second then reward that second by putting him down. If you put him down while he's zooming he might think zooming gets him put down so he's going to keep doing it.

    Sent from my moto z3 using Tapatalk

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  13. #9
    Registered User arpowell's Avatar
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    It sounds like you're primarily trying to handle your snake while he's awake and out and about in his enclosure - have you tried handling him during the day when he's sleepy and less active? It sounds like him seeing you in front of glass and trying to get away is a major stressor for both of you during these experiences, so maybe helping to eliminate the chances of him seeing you coming will also help you both out. I always give my snakes a gentle tap before I pick them up, though, just to let them know I'm there and it's handling time - don't want to startle a sleeping snake by picking it up suddenly. Also, how are you picking him up? I'm sure you already know this, but just in case, if you hesitate while picking him up, that's probably scaring him, too. You want to pick him up in one fluid, confident motion, regardless of how he's acting.

    Like others have said, empathy, patience, and consistency will go a long, long way. You mention that your snake seems to feel insecure out in the open - try to remember where he's coming from. He's still so small, you're so much bigger than him, and for baby snakes the world is a very scary place. Handling him calmly, gently, and letting him explore over your hands rather than trying to pet or restrain him will eventually teach him that handling time is nothing to fear. Also, make sure you end your handling session on a high note, when he's reasonably calm and you're both having a good time. I never want my snakes to associate stressed behavior with getting to go back into the enclosure. I've noticed that when some snakes are nervous they respond well to being held over your head. In the wild, snakes are mostly attacked from above, so holding him above you seems to help some of them calm down. That might be something to try and see if it works for your snake.

  14. #10
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    Re: How do I built trust with my snake if it' possible

    Quote Originally Posted by Neko_snake View Post
    ...Also I kinda agree with the longer training sessions...
    An example: one of my young (2+ years) Florida (yellow mix) rat snakes is hyper-sensitive & still very flighty- while her 2 sisters are unusually calm, I might add.

    But even though she still may thrash & even body-roll at times when I pick her up, I just continue with gentle restraint (enough to hold on & not let her fall) until she calms down & "remembers" that she is safe with me. She actually gets very snuggly & calm, but she needs that initial reassurance, because her instincts are there to save her life if she lived in the wild.

    Her tank is in my living room, & while that may seem like the wrong place for a flighty snake, it actually works to her advantage. Rat snakes DO seem to have better vision (& many appear to recognize us) better than many other snakes- and she often sits out in the open on driftwood, just calmly & deliberately watching me when I sit nearby. She has also improved greatly since she first hatched, getting calm much faster when I pick her up now- so it's clear that she has learned a great deal & remembers me.

    When she was much younger, I got a few nips too, but not for a long time now. Patience pays off, & every snake may be just a little bit different- it's up to us to communicate that they're safe with us. I'm actually very fond of this goofy snake- most people might prefer her placid sisters, but I don't mind working a little to earn a snake's trust. At this point she obviously knows who I am when I'm nearby, but instinctively still may react some -right at first- to the feeling of being picked up...because in the wild, that's what PREDATORS do.

    One of the funniest & most memorable sessions with Mirikel (so far) was when she thrashed terribly at first, but once I calmed her down, she ended up going in my long sleeve, then turning around just to peek out at the cuff, & she continued to do that, watching me for at least an hour while I was on my computer- as if she was just taking in all in, studying me. She's too big now to fit that sleeve but even after an hour, it was me that ended the session- she never wanted out, lol.

    Nothing in the wild is harmless when it picks up a snake...always remember that. We're going directly against their instincts, because even if they're captive-bred, our snakes are still WILD animals, not domestic. It's up to us to be understanding & forgiving, & continue to show them that they're safe with us.

    No one can tell you how long it will take for your snake to calm down- if you're not patient, you might have the wrong hobby. Often it's us that needs to evolve some.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 01-08-2022 at 03:43 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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