Reptile personalities

I’ve found that many non-reptile people are often shocked to learn that reptiles, just like birds and mammals, have different personalities that are unique to the individual. Temperaments of individuals within the same species can vary wildly.

I thought it might be fun to discuss the individual personalities of the reptiles in our collections. Do your animals tend to exhibit the temperament stereotypes typical of their species, or are they rebels who break the mould? If you have several individuals of the same species, how do their temperaments differ? Who is your “friendliest” reptile, and who is your grumpiest? In your experience, does it make a big difference if the reptile is handled and socialised a lot as a baby, or do they tend to retain the temperament they have right out of the egg?

I’ve been saying “reptiles,” but if you keep amphibians and/or invertebrates, feel free to discuss their personalities too.


I only have one crestie atm, but he is very chill. He’s content to sit on my shoulder most of the time… But other times he likes to try to climb up onto to my head. He’s a good boi.

I do have a lot of fish though, and they all have their own personalities too. Its really fun to try to figure out who are the nice fish, and who will fight anyone and everyone who so much as looks in their direction.


My male leo, Gak, surprises me every day with his gentle puppy dog personality considering his history. He is estimated to be around 15, and we have had him for 8 years now.

Those other 7 years…really unknown. I adopted him out of a neglectful middle school animal room in the special needs program; the animals were supposed to be relaxing for the special needs kids to look at, but obviously the kids took priority and the animals were all in poor shape (my tarantula and hermit crabs were taken from the same situation).

I doubt he was in the middle school all 7 years, so I presume he was a pet store animal purchased young and then surrendered to the school.

He has ZERO claws and toe knuckles due to shed build ups as he got zero vitamin supplements or heating/UV. I never saw him handled poorly, but based on the guinea pig that died in the program due to being dropped from the height of a special needs 8th grader…I imagine he had some stressful handling experiences.

And yet, he is a gentle and beautiful soul. He loves watching you vacuum, gives puppy eyes for food, comes out to visit when you call his name, and is so well behaved during baths or handling, even when it needed to be invasive for medical treatment.

I think even moreso than just having personality, the ability of reptiles to remain ‘tame’ even after abuse situations might not be at the same level as mammals or birds, but it does happen and shows their emotional potential, if that’s the right term

Boy tax


I mostly keep corns and although most of them have the typical easy-going but active corn personalities, there are a few who are a bit more spicy or fearful or outgoing or chill.

But what really surprised me was many years ago when I raised baby mantises that they had slight differences to their personalities. I had some who were defensive and would strike out at my finger, others who were bold and would willingly climb on me, etc. At the time, I didn’t even know that insects could have different personalities!


We have a ball python that, when draped over my wifes neck, will wrap his tail under her arm to anchor then rubs her back with his tail (he sells so many of his offspring at the shows just doing that). We also have a boa that, when you open her drawer, she will attempt to murder you. Every. Single. Time. We have a leo gecko that smiles at us on the regular. I think most of our animals follow stereotypes but there seems like there is one or two for each species that breaks the mold one way or another. I will say I have become a believer in certain Ball Python morphs being pre-disposed to violence that is difficult to handle away.


I have two snakes. Phoebe, an adult Kenyan sand boa, and Mina, a juvenile (closing in on subadult) blood python. Both are wild-type females. The one I’m pulling out and showing off to friends and family is not necessarily the one you’d expect.

Phoebe the KSB is very skittish. She’s fine and easy to work with once she’s out of her enclosure, although she’s always trying to go up my sleeve or down my cleavage, trying to find anyplace she can “burrow” and feel secure. And she’s not always easy to get out of her enclosure. She usually tries to quickly burrow out of my grasp, and she’ll strike if I startle her (though she’s only nailed me once). It seems like human interaction just kind of stresses her out.

Mina the blood python, on the other hand, is an absolute doll. As soon as I open up her tub, she’s periscoping her head up out of the foliage to check out the world, and will come out of her enclosure on her own if I let her. Once out, she’s calm, gentle, and curious, and seems to enjoy getting out, exploring, and interacting with me. She’s who I pull out if I have someone over who wants to meet one of my snakes. She’s like a really thick, heavy ball python, but with awesome colours you’ll never see on a ball.

I got Phoebe as a 10-year-old adult, and her previous keeper told me that he didn’t handle her much. I got Mina as a baby and handled her a lot, so perhaps that made a difference in how comfortable they each are around people. All I know is that I’d rather deal with a skittish sand boa than a skittish blood python, so if I have to have a nervous snake, I’m glad it turned out to be the one with smaller teeth. :joy:


Easily hands down my most one of a kind snake is José the Jalapeno on a Stick. He is very smart, and has learned how to play me like a fiddle.

When he was younger he was very sick. He had chronic respiratory fits for almost two years while i had him (and most likely long before that, too) from what we later learned was black mold that had grown into the pores of the water bowl he was sold to me with at the reptile shop he used to live in. It was repeatedly contaminating his water and substrate. (He was living in pure filth there so looking back I’m not surprised.) But treating a URI caused by hidden mold is impossible by normal methods. Specifically if you aren’t aware of the mold and are trying to treat it like a husbandry caused URI. (Which my vet did, because it’s easier to insist that my husbandry was repeatedly wrong because i didn’t know what i was doing rather than admit that the treatment wasn’t working, even after years of no improvement.) I probably wasted thousands with that guy. He was a bad vet.

The issue was that the pores under his water bowl were so many and some so small, that you couldn’t possibly remove all of the particles. So i thought i was cleaning it, but honestly nothing could clean it all the way, short of boiling it, and even then i wouldn’t have trusted it. The whole thing had to be thrown away in order to stop the exposure, and thus stop the illness. In fact, i threw away everything after i finally found out the cause because i just wasn’t having it anymore.

He is a Bumblebee ball python so spider, pastel. Keep that in mind for this next part.

He would get flare ups sometimes every month, sometimes every other month and i learned to recognize when they started happening because the stress of the exposure and the stress of his illness would trigger his spider wobble and corkscrewing and that would stress him out even more, and he would start searching his enclosure non-stop. And i mean non-stop. For weeks, sometimes if i couldn’t get his treatments to work. (Which was pretty common.) I’m not gonna lie, it was the scariest, most stressful experience with an animal that I’ve ever had.
It was an identifiable pattern though. Onset, corkscrew, searching, onset, corkscrew, searching, over and over.

So i learned to recognize that pattern and every time he started showing his signs i would be in front of the terrarium. Watching him, examining him, recording his behavior, checking temps and humidity, noting the style of husbandry i was using at that time, (as i stated, the vet kept telling me it was husbandry related so i was repeatedly changing things, adjusting things, trying new substrate, heat lamp, uth, some combination of both, temps, humidity methods, i tried a tub once, (but kept that stinking water bowl ofc) I’ve done darn near everything with him.) So i noted his current husbandry, last sheds, poops, feedings, etc. Anything that could give some extra clues to the vet. I always went in there when he started acting up and checked for everything.

Well you know what they say about repetition and animals learning things. Somewhere along the line, he learned that every time he started searching or corkscrewing, the strange human would come along, take him out, and clean everything. Because NOW he’s almost 8 years old, hasn’t had a single flare up since i threw away all of his stuff in 2019. In fact, he’s been healthy as a horse since then. But he will still throw a fit whenever he want me to do something for him because he knows it works. And once I’ve figured out what the problem is and fix it, he stops. Every time. It’s not even real things for a ball python to act like they’re dying over. Water not fresh enough? Fit. Substrate due for a change? Fit. (He has very high sanitation standards.) Pooped in his favorite hide less than one hour ago? The world must be ending.

Earlier today he threw a fit for no reason! He just wanted me to let him out.

I took him out, checked all his stuff. Clean, parameters good, water is fresh, etc. He spends 30 minutes exploring, sniffing, scoping, you know, the usual. When i put him back, he’s happy as a clam. He’s currently snoozing in his hide like nothing could ever be wrong and he didn’t just pretend like he was dying earlier today in order to get some outside time.

I have 10 snakes right now. I’ve owned many more than that, and have had experience with even more than that. He is the only snake i have or have ever had/met that behaves like this. If you think about it, it’s entirely contrary to their supposed to be natural instincts to hide any signs of illness. My other snakes, i have to always make a point of looking for issues myself. I gotta hunt down their poop because they’ll just move to a different hide and pretend like it’s not there. I have to stay on top of my schedules to make sure that they’re not sitting in filth, check and replenish their water bowls. But not José! He’ll tell me. Oh, he’ll tell me…


I was delighted to learn that reptiles have personalities.

My husband’s first snake, a ball python named Patches, was the most cuddly snake I’ve met to this day. You could take her out and she would snuggle with you for as long as you let her.

We have a BEL ball python who is extremely curious and always wants to explore, and he has been like that since we got him as a baby in 2018. He’ll start zooming around his enclosure at night and if we open the door he’ll just come hang out with us and explore his surroundings.

One of my boas has a very cool personality - she seems very cautiously curious with that boa intelligence and lets me know when she wants to come out - any time I open her door she’ll stick her head out of her hide and stare at me for a few seconds. If she goes right back in, I leave her alone, and if she starts flicking her tongue and coming out more she lets me get her out no problem and will happily explore everything around her.

My other boa acts like a cranky teenager most of the time, but will occasionally allow me to bask in his presence.

TL;DR: reptiles absolutely have unique personalities and I personally don’t own a single one that acts like I would expect them to.


What a sad beginning but a wonderful ending for your little boy! Reptiles may not be wired like us but I firmly believe they recognize, in one way or another, their care givers, namely us. I believe your little guy understands that you mean good things to him and he reciprocates as best as he can…… :heart::lizard::blush:


I have two snakes, and their personalities are distinct.

Finnley is a baby Ball Python, a super fire Black Eyed Lucy, and he was socialized from the egg, so he’s pretty outgoing for a baby snake. He charms people hesitant to hold a snake into giving him a chance to tongueflick them and try holding him. He’s such a little gentleman. Sometimes he’s bold and curious, and sometimes he can be shy. I try to let him alone then.

I am working with him using mostly choice-based handling, and when I open the enclosure and hold my hands out, he often chooses to crawl onto them. He’s very thorough when he explores. I hope choice based work will help him to grow up as a confident boy.
Finnley is an enthusiastic eater of mice, happy to slam his meals so long as they’re not too cold.
Overall Finnley reminds me very much of a golden retriever puppy. Sometimes shy but happy to be here and pleased to meet you!

Sangfroid is a juvenile Black African House Snake. He’s my TINY skittish boy. When you’re the size of a very long noodle, everything is a threat, so his wish to hide all the time makes sense. He eats better (marginally! very picky!) with his little round hides, lots of clutter, and a tiny enclosure bin. He seems very alert, and when he gets over his fear and feels safe, he is exceedingly curious and intent to examine his surroundings. He gives the sense of being very intelligent but nowhere near as interested in people. Finnley seems to understand I am another being. To Sangfroid, I am a pair of hands, if that, but at least hands he’s not too scared of.

For a tiny snake he sure is picky with his food. When he does strike his food it’s incredibly fast. He prefers live, possibly from strong instincts. This is supposedly common for Boaedon fuliginosus. Other house snakes often have a powerful food drive, and maybe his species just really latches their brain to the idea that food needs to be a wiggling squeaking heartbeating thing. Sangfroid is trying to be an efficient predator.


That’s a great story! I don’t blame him for not wanting to be around germs with his rough start! lol. :heart::blush:

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Jose sounds amazing and adorable! That’s very interesting how he’s “trained” you to come running and see to his comfort, but I guess it’s understandable after all he’s been through. I’d probably be a germaphobe too if I’d been sickened by drinking black mold for years. Poor guy. So glad he’s doing well now, and that he has a well-trained staff to meet his every need and desire!


Thank you for the kind words!
He is the best little man, and I truly believe that we continue to save each other to this day. Even if its just personification of a reptile (which I don’t believe, his behaviors are too unique for me to just be adding meaning to reptile behaviors), he is a testament to the resiliance of life and kindness.


Gak is adorable! I’m always amazed by animals’ capacity to still be trusting of and happy around people after being neglected and/or abused. I’m so glad that he’s finally found a home where he’s getting the love and care he deserves.


He absolutely knows he is the king of the roost! When we moved houses recently my mom shifted the entire room layout for the living room so that she could see his tank and talk to him while she cooked in the kitchen :joy: I’m not sure if she’ll allow me to bring him with me when I move out for good after graduation (she seems to have claimed him), but either way he for sure knows he is going to be loved and spoiled rotten!


@caron @jawramik

Thank you both so much! José is so precious to me. If i ever had to get rid of them all and only keep one, it would be him. He keeps me on my toes, but unlike my other snakes, i know he wouldn’t be as happy without me, his ever dutiful trained staff. (It’s hard training humans, lol)

He’s extremely silly, kinda dumb with his antics, and very personable. He’s not very cuddly, he’ll let you hold him for about 15 minutes at a time before he decides he’s over it. But he’s the sweetest boy.

Pics of best boi i took recently:


I was also surprised to learn that invertebrates also each have their own unique personalities! When I was researching before getting my first tarantulas, I learned that even within the same species, temperaments can vary quite a bit. While some species are usually docile or usually reactive/defensive, there are individuals for whom those stereotypes don’t hold true. And apparently temperament can even vary between molts of the same individual! You can have a very docile tarantula who then molts and becomes skittish and defensive, or vice versa. I find it fascinating! I don’t have multiples of the same species, and so far my spiders’ temperaments have been about what I’d expect for their species, but I’ll be curious to see if that stays the case as they continue to molt and grow.

That’s so cool that mantises have unique personalities! I’ve wanted to try my hand at keeping mantises sometime. They’re super neat creatures and apparently make for fascinating pets.


That’s so awesome that you have a ball python that gives back rubs! How precious! Just curious, which BP morphs seem predisposed to being spicy in your experience? I’ve heard of some morphs in other species being more prone to being extra-grumpy (like pied retics, not sure how true that is, but I’ve heard it from several sources), so it seems plausible.


That’s hilarious. :rofl: Some snakes are such divas!


It will be interesting to see if Sangfroid gets bolder and less shy as he gets bigger, or if his cautious nature is just how he’s wired. I know that many reptiles are more shy and/or defensive when they’re young and small (and would be near the bottom of the food chain in the wild), but sometimes get less skittish and more confident as they get bigger. I guess the world is just less scary when you’re bigger. Of course, house snakes never get very big, so maybe that’s less true for them.

I’ve recently been looking into choice-based handling, and realised that’s basically what I’ve started doing with Mina, my blood python. I didn’t start out that way at the beginning, but now she’s so comfortable and well-socialised that she’ll often come out on her own. And if she doesn’t, I usually don’t force the issue unless I need to deep-clean her enclosure (I can spot clean without removing her). I may try to use some of those concepts with my skittish sand boa. I kind of doubt that she’ll ever want to come out or come up to me on her own, but who knows, maybe she’ll surprise me if I’m patient enough. I do wish she wasn’t so afraid of people, and I feel like trying to interact with her on her terms could be a good way to build some trust, even if she’s never as “friendly” as Mina.