Hello! I got a young (about a foot-ish) female blood Python that I have dubbed Countess Bathory and she has already more than earned that title. She has already taken a meal no problem. I wanted to make sure that I am handling her spiciness in the most effective way.
For example, today I took her out and she came out swinging and defecating. Tagged me a total of 8 times before she ran out of gas. During this time I made sure she was secure on a flat surface and didn’t flinch or let go. She stayed frozen for a while after that but I waited until she started doing the more relaxed, curious tongue flicks and began exploring a bit so I knew she was out of that defensive mindset. Once she seemed relaxed for a few minutes I returned her to her enclosure.
My main question is how often should I do this? I don’t want to overly stress her. Is there anything you would do differently? What have you had success with?
You could try tap training with a snake hook, paper towel roll or whatever else you have handy. Also you can open the enclosure, or tub and let it start to come out on its own, then let it crawl over your hand for support. Also if you are holding it you can try to keep its head away from you and keep moving slightly so it might not lock on a target as fast. It’s still small and scared of everything, so do short handling sessions 3-4 times a week and hopefully it will start to calm down for you. Some snakes just don’t want to be handled, but most will stop trying to bite every time. Good luck!
Gotcha, I’ll aim for 3-4 times a week then. I tried redirecting her a so often so with nervous snakes but I have to give her credit she is quite the little fighter. She is extremely fast and determined. She doesn’t have to be a perfect puppy dog and be into me handling her all of the time but I prefer to each her some basic manners while she is still small for health checks and enclosure maintenance.
I made this post to what may be the best and most active Blood and STP forum on the internet with excellent feedback. I hope you find it helpful.
As a person who was new to Blood Pythons and got their first one in April of 2022, I thought I might share what I’ve learned as far as handling and interaction goes.
I was pretty timid at first, I have over a dozen ball pythons, corn snakes, have kept hognose snakes as well, but the reputation of bloods and other STP’s had me spooked.
Maybe I’m just a dork but I sing or just talk to them about what I’m going to do. Obviously they can’t hear me but it distracts me enough to make me confidant.
I have strict routines. All of my animals know what happens before food, there is an explosion of heat for quite some time just before they get fed (I use a heat gun to heat f/t) and they are ready and waiting for the tongs. When I need to clean or otherwise put my hands inside their tub, or simply want to handle them, the tub comes 100% out of my rack, no exceptions. They NEVER get food with the tub all the way out.
Pick them up with purpose and confidence every time. Are you just going to handle them for a bit? Are you cleaning and moving them to a spare tub for the moment? Pick them up gently but securely and do what you need to do, don’t ask for permission.
Keep handling short, infrequent, and positive for a good long while. I’ve had my female for 10 months now. Typically for the first 8 or so months if I needed to get her out she was more than ready to go back into her tub quickly. Now, sometimes she turns around away from her tub and climbs back up my chest when I go to put her back in. I take that as a cue that she’s comfortable staying out for a bit. She looks at stuff and moves around, tongue flicks, and seems generally curious about things. Prior to this change she would hold perfectly still until she got near enough to her tub to get inside. It was easier to take photos of her when she was nervous, but I don’t mind taking the hit on that.
I know that this information isn’t much different than the advice that the pros here give all the time, but thought it might be encouraging for someone to know that another new person followed the advice and had success with it. Confidence, patience, and routine, that’s the formula with these guys.
Appreciate it. Seems like pretty standard snake stuff just gotta be patient with it. I’ve just never had a snake be so nervous before and its ky first foray into this species so I wanted to check-in. It’s definitely defensive and not a feeding response that is pretty clear. She’s is a very nervous girl and I’m trying to find a balance of teaching her that behavior doesn’t work without stressing her out too much.
I would suggest that other than necessary enclosure maintenance and feeding, you simply leave her alone. I disagree about handling her multiple times a week. If you have a week where it isn’t necessary to touch her, don’t. Be near her, change her water, talk to her but give her some space. If you need to move her to clean, put her in a tub and set her aside then put her back into her enclosure when you’re done. Don’t fuss about it, treat it like a task.
Eventually she might not want you dead! Several months down the road when she wants to chill with you for a bit it’ll all be worth it.
My male would not mind if I died but he doesn’t actively want me dead anymore, baby steps.
Did you just get her recently by chance? I know she has already eaten which is good but maybe she needs a little time to settle into her new surroundings before you handle her for training. I am NOT an expert so this is just a thought.
I suppose when a little foot long snake sees a big scary human looming over them, it’s only defense is striking and creating a foul bodily “mess” to deter that scary human! Lol! Seriously though, patience is key as well as consistency with this little lady.
The very best to you and her!
I’m not a veteran reptile keeper but I have had animals for over 15 years and been very interested in animal behavior and training for a very long time.
I’d start fresh with this animal, then work to gradually establish a trusting relationship, where the snake feels it has some control over situations, the chance to make choices, and some idea what to expect through cues given by you. You can do all this via things like target training, choice based handling, choice based enrichment, and other neat things you can learn from people like Lori Torrini or Kevin McCurley and his “threads of trust” ideas.
You and your snake can build a really cool way of interacting and even communicating. This is what I am working on doing with my own snakes, and what I’ve been doing with a formerly-nervous shelter dog for over 6 years- she’s a much more secure and confident pupper now.
I do prompt a lot of people to Lori Torrini but she’s good at what she does, and she does Behavioral Work with snakes in her youtube videos.
You’ve already received some great advice by folks more experienced than I, but I wanted to add my two cents based on what worked well for me with my female blood.
When my girl was a baby, I found that if I just reached my hand towards her right away, she’d immediately become defensive. She’d adopt a defensive posture, puff herself up, hiss, and sometimes even strike at me. I found that if I used a hook for our initial interactions, things went a lot more smoothly. I suspect the hook looked less threatening and predatory to her. I’d gently stroke her back a few times with the hook to make sure she was awake and knew it wasn’t feeding time, then I’d slide the hook under her body around her midpoint and lift her up just enough that I could slide my other hand under her, and I’d lift her out of her enclosure with the hook and my hand. Then I’d usually put her on my lap and toss the hook aside, because once she was out, she calmed quickly and I didn’t need the hook.
These days, she’ll often come out of her enclosure on her own if I just open it up and wait, so the only time I ever really take her out myself is for cleaning. I still use the hook in the same way. I probably don’t need the hook at all anymore, she seems to trust me now, but…hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s our routine and it works for us.
I will add the caveat that from your description, my girl was never as feisty as yours. She was just a pretty typical baby snake who thought the whole world wanted to eat her, but she figured out pretty quickly that I was okay and became lovely and docile after just a few handling sessions. It sounds like your girl is a bit more challenging. But my experience with my blood python has made be a big believer in snake hooks for nervous snakes. Sometimes using a hook isn’t just about turning off a feeding response or keeping your own hands away from their teeth (which is what I used to think). Sometimes using a hook can actually be less stressful and intimidating for the snake.
Thanks everyone for the helpful feedback. Sorry I started a new position at work and things have been a little crazy. After our last interaction she refused to eat on feeding night so I left her alone entirely but thankfully she just ate again last night. I think I will just do my best to take it slow with her as suggested and hope for progress. It’s funny, I have experience with ball pythons, a rainbow boa, and a retic but have never interacted with a snake anywhere close to as feisty as this one. Just embracing it as a challenge and taking it one week at a time.