Can Reptiles be Happy?

I’m part of a few FB groups I started out in mainly to help people where I can with the basics of caring for certain species of snakes and I have found a mentor or two along the way. I know from several years of experience with different types of reptiles you cannot always take FB to heart as you will always find people that talk out their backside and have no idea what they are talking about, or be no help at all and just be their to troll.
This is more of a rant and was curious of other peoples thoughts. I find yall on her to be more professional and more understanding then people in other groups and shut down anyone looking to talk out their backside by providing facts and experiences.

Someone had posted on FB along the lines that their BP loves to see them and always seems to be happy when they are around and enjoys their interactions or that they don’t care what people say their BP loves them. Well straight off people explode with “they only learn to tolerate not love”, “they aren’t capable of those kinds of emotions”, and many more to that nature. My response and thoughts towards it was pretty much as follows.

As long as the the snakes health is not compromised, they are not stressed and all their needs are being met what is the problem with someone thinking their snake is happy to be around them? some people may need that positive feeling and reinforcement in their life and the thought of someone or something that cares may mean the world to certain people. I have read a few posts where being a reptile owner has help their mental health and that’s great but there always seems to be someone looking to cr*p all over the experience. Like I said as long as no harm is coming to the snake what is the harm in someone thinking their snake has any emotion toward them?

I have read several articles that BPs are not capable emotions like cats and dogs, but are more wired towards survival and tolerance. Like they don’t like to be held but tolerate being held, which I agree but I don’t think it shouldn’t stop you from striving to make that “happy” environment for your reptile, and living a good life.

If you read through my rant what do you think?

I will find the post and link it hopefully in the next few days.


I think this is spot on. Scientifically they aren’t “happy” or “sad” but they can still be stressed or put in less than ideal conditions. I think the main problem with this is feeding. It can be very difficult for a reptile owner (especially a new keeper) to understand that more food is bad and if the snake is “begging” for food it must be hungry and not giving it food is starving it. I think this is part of the reason why obesity in captive reptiles is so common. So, if someone wants to believe that their reptile has feelings, that’s fine, as long as their care isn’t compromised.
There’s a good discussion about this here:


If a person applies anthropomorphic feelings to a reptile, animal… one misses the chance to interact with another living being that isn’t human. One can totally miss the “snakeness” of the snake.


I dont believe reptiles can experience happiness, but they definitely benefit greatly from enrichment. They enjoy certain things, but I don’t think that means that they can necessarily be “happy”.


I have heard somewhere that studies show them producing serotonin, the “happy hormone” in us mammals, though not Oxytocin, our bonding hormone. I can’t be positive on that without a source. I’d say they probably experience contentedness, satisfaction of needs, and possibly they don’t necessarily Love as much as “Seek out the company of the ones who bring Good THings” and Trust us.

They are able to interact with us because they have learned that This pair of hands is one that doesn’t mean danger. This smell means food, and safety, and warmth, and not fear.

Trust, from something so unlike me as my little reptile, is a pretty big deal to me, and I’ll take it.
Edit to add
It’d probably be a stretch to call it Happy like MY version of Happy but I think my snake feels Safe and Secure in his seedpod hide, so I tend to say he’s happy with it. That’s probably his version of Happy. Needs met, tucked in somewhere snug, a mouse in his tummy.


That was one of the points I was getting at. With the article I can see that very much being the case and part of the problem. There is a line where it no longer helps anyone and hurts both the animal and person.

Most people I have come across know this and are aware, but yes there are people that don’t and risk doing more harm then good.
That was a good read as well. Thank You!

2 of my 3 corn snakes didn’t get that memo :joy: :joy:. My third always seems to pop her head out and waits to be picked up(not really but is supper calm) lol.