Tips For A New Retic Owner?

So yesterday morning I got my first retic. He’s a 7 month old Platinum GC Tiger, 25% superdwarf. I have experience with ball pythons but thats about it, which leads me to my first thing.

When I picked him up, I was in a rush, totally my fault and I just reached right in and grabbed him out the bag. With my BPs, that was fine they didn’t care, but I was dumb and got my comeuppance, he bit me. Of course I was my fault so I didn’t think much of it.

This morning I went to check on him and handle him briefly, I made sure I didn’t scare him before trying to pick him up and he bit me again so I left him alone.

Basically, I’m hoping for any tips, tricks, or advice anyone can give me. I plan to target train for feeding, showing him a blue disc before offering food every time.
Is there anything else I can do? I know he will get big and right now the biting isn’t serious, but when he’s a 12+ft dude he can’t keep doing that lol

Included are his bin pics, and him. Its a 45qt bin.


Beautiful snake! Can’t give you advice but I’ll give a shout out to @caron, @caryl @t_h_wyman @tommccarthy @solarserpents and @ballornothing. There are many people who will help you, but those are the ones I remember right now :grinning:


my guy flies out of his enclosure if I don’t give him a quick boop/tap with a hook. I’ve been hook training him since I got him and he has learned, but the hook tap is an absolute must. I get in there as soon as its opened with the hook for a quick tap on his noggin and he has learned really well that the hook tap means no food is coming! but without a hook tap, he is ready to slam the first thing he sees. hope this helps a bit!


Ok, so you’ve got a serious adjustment coming your way with how you interact with this animal. If you don’t own a 30-40” snake hook, you need to start with one of those. You should also always have a roll of paper towels close at hand.

Never reach for a retic with your bare hands. The most food crazy ball python that you could ever imagine, still does not have a feeding response that comes anywhere near a retic. Every handling interaction should start with you rubbing the animal down with a hook or a roll of paper towels. The idea behind the roll of paper towels is if it’s snapping at you or the hook, it won’t damage its teeth if it just bites into a roll of paper towels.

Once you’ve rubbed it down with the hook, or the paper towels, and it’s either backing away, or cruising away, then you can go in, grab it by the midpoint of the body and pick it up. Start doing this every other day or so to teach the animal how a handling session is going to go.

Never put it away on a sour note if you can avoid it. They have a much better memory than you would think and they will remember if they had a bad time hanging out with you.

Keep in mind that due to the attitude some retics have, they won’t always be a snake you can handle any old time you please. They also ‘catch’ a feeding response for small animals or birds when you have them out so as it grows, be prepared to deal with that.

Being only 25% SD you still have the possibility of this animal getting 12-15’ so you need to make sure you have a positive relationship with it as it grows.

I’ll add some more to this when I get off work later.


If he acts defensive or something after tapping/running the snake hook on him what then? Just close the bin?


So @ballornothing was saying:

This is perfect advice! Here is what I do. Basically you need to use the hook method and wait for him to back away, turn the other way or lose interest before trying to pick him up. I use a slim hook at first so I don’t open the enclosure much and gently touch his nose or head,(you don’t really “tap or hit” him) sometimes very lightly pushing the head away from you and the opening. Then when he moves his head away open it up all the way and keep the hook/or paper towels or whatever in between him and you until your sure he is moving the other way then gently pick him up. Be patient he will catch on, they are intelligent and do have a good memory. That’s also why @ballornothing commented on making it a good less stressful experience before putting him back, which is great advice! The only other thing I can think of right now is: since he is so new you may want to give him a week to get comfortable with his surroundings, eat at least once for you(no problem usually with retics!) and wait a day or so after to begin hook training and holding. Very nice looking tic too! Enjoy, they are very interactive snakes!


I know I don’t shut up about Lori Torrini but she’s the behaviorist who works with Reach Out Reptiles and their retics, and she has her own which she trains and has out in her house on exploration stations, and she does have a very good youtube channel with a ton of info on working with many personalities of snake, including that famous Retic mind.

So I don’t have experience but I know she does, and what I do know about animal behavior and training says she is VERY good.



I agree with what everybody has said already.

Here is some info I posted on a older fourm for someone that needed help with their retic. This will work with boas to, if anyone needs to tame their boa. But you will need a smaller snake hook for baby boas. I have added some new info to this to help you out.

Just so everyone knows, Tigger passed away in 2012.

When I first got Tigger in 9 / 2005, she was not tame at all. She was 12 feet long and 28 lbs.

It took me about 3 months to tame her. Here is how I worked with her to tame her down.

For the first week, I used the snake hook to touch her a few times, and I would just put my hand on her body and the hook holding touching her head. I did this for about 2 or 3 minutes a day. I also put my shirt I was wearing in her cage at night so she would get used to my scent. I did the shirt trick for about 3 1/2 weeks.

The next 2 1/2 weeks, I would use the hook by her head and pet her on her body. She would jerk her body and throw my hand off, but I would put it right back on her. I did this for about 15 minutes a day.

Then, after the 2 1/2 weeks, I still did the same thing, but I would also pet her head. I did this for about 5 to 7 days.

Then, I started to take her out of the cage for about 10 to 15 minutes every day. I would let her go just about any ware she wanted to, but I would not put her down. I did this for about a week. I still would pet her in her cage just about every day.
( Never restrain a snakes head with your hands as they don’t like this at all. Just hold them loosely but in control of them and let them move around and change your hand position by going hand over hand as they move around. Remember, a restrained snake is a mad snake. I know I don’t like being held by my neck ) :rofl:

The next week, I started to let her crawl around on the floor. But I had to use the snake hook to pick her up as she would strike at me.

After about 1 or 2 weeks, she was fine with me, and then I started letting my kids pet her when I had her out in the house.

The first time I took her outside (this was about 6 to 7 months after I got her), she went right back to wanting to strike at me, so I had to use the hook with her.

After about 2 weeks, she was fine outside with me, and I even let my kids pet her too.

I still used the hook every time I opened her cage to take her out. All I had to do was touch her head then, and she knew it was not feeding time.

The only time I would not do anything with her was on feeding day and the day after. Tigger used to stay in feeding mode for about 1 to 2 days back then. When she got older, she would only stay in feeding mode a few hours after she had eaten.

Tigger only bitten me one time in 2006, and it was just a little bump on my hand, and it was to let me know she did not want to come out as she was deep in shed. The bite did not even bleed, just 2 or 3 little marks in my hand. When she was in a deep shed, I would not take her out of her cage, but I could open it up and pet her. Tigger became one of my tamest snakes I have ever owned, and she was not head shy at all. I believe this is because when I first got her, I would pet her head a lot. In the last 3 or 4 years of her life, I didn’t even have to use a snake hook anymore when I opened her cage.

She did have bad shed allot, so after she starts to shed, I put her in my bathtub and help pull all the old skin off of her. I think she did this on propose as it seems like she likes me doing this back then. :joy:

There are pictures of her on my website if you would like to see them. Tigger

I always messed with Tigger’s head at home when I would have her out, so she was used to people touching her head. I could even slap her on her side or even hold her head and give it a good shake, and she didn’t care about it. I did this for years with her. I even let my kids at home play with Tigger a lot to help her get used to children. Whenever a snake person came over to my home, they couldn’t believe how tame Tigger was and the stuff she would put up with. After owning snakes for 47+ years, I feel I can read most snakes’ attitudes pretty well, at least the ones I own.

Update 6 / 2012
Tigger was probably the tamest snake I have owned, and I didn’t even need to use a hook with her the last 3 or 4 year’s of her life to get her out of her cage. When she passed away, she was over 16 feet long and 120+ lbs.

I had my vet do some tests on her, but nothing was found wrong with her. So I will never know why she died. Me and my family miss her very much. I owned her for 7 years, and in that time, she helped change a lot of peoples opinions for the better for all snakes.

Take care
Tom McCarthy


Watch out for the PEE. :grimacing: It’s their one real fault.
I do, alas, say this from firsthand experience… Oof. I did laugh a lot at the time because it was so absurd.

I’m not kidding these snakes have a unique ability to drop like CUPS of liquid all at once when they’re annoyed, distressed, or just gotta go.
DO NOT hold them near electronics, like laptops, or hand them to people until you’re really sure of your snake’s habits.Watch the area near their vent for a swollen look… They might be prepping to DUMP.

An SD Retic peed all over me, and my wheelchair. You will need Enzymatic cleaners designed for dog and cat urine to get rid of the musky smell properly. and it might take multiple rounds of cleaning to ever manage to fully clean.


Oh my goodness he is a beauty! I love retics but unfortunately owning one is not as option for me. I am sure you will have challenges along the way with him but never fear, you will get plenty of good advice from others here.

Give him a chance to settle in with you. Everything will work out! :+1::sunglasses::lizard::frog::snake::blush:


Wow. That is a most touching story. It’s a such a shame that Tigger passed away so early in her life. What a beautiful testimony of your love for her and her seemingly understanding of it.

To Tigger! :heart::snake:


Don, Bane, and Tom have already said pretty much everything I would. The only things I would add would be:

  • Keep a small spritz bottle of rubbing alcohol or everclear on hand. Hopefully you will never have to use it but if you ever do get in a situation with a rather extreme bite situation, a spray in the mouth will almost always get them to release

  • I am also a firm advocate of sometimes just letting the animal familiarize themself with you by opening the cage and letting them come out (or not) and watch you while you are just doing other things in the room. Keep your hook on hand to be able to maneuver the animal if it tries to go somewhere it should not or if you want to just keep them staying inside the cage. Doing this lets the animal learn that you being there does not always mean an “assault” and also gets them used to the idea that an open door does not always mean food is coming in


I am loving this thread! So much wonderful information available in one spot :wink:.


It’s cause of those knowledgable people :grin: :wink:


Everyone is giving REALLY excellent advice here!

As a many-retic owner myself, are you getting food bit, or defensive bit? I don’t think I saw specifically.

Food bites definitely just means you’re approaching too fast. Never just reach in to get your retic, tap first to “turn them off” and then try. Often this then triggers a flee response, but once you get them out and they smell who you are, they calm down. This is the basics for tap training.

You can tell food bites as the animal is coming forward and “chasing” a hand with no fear about stretching out.

Defense bites are more, you reached in for a sleeping kid and got nipped, the animal is wiggling in fear in your arms and nipped, the classic S shape in a pile and nipped as you reached in, paying a little too close attention to you, etc.

SD genetics are known to sometimes be nippier and flightier than regular retics. Since yours is only partly dwarf genes I’m hoping this isn’t really the case, but I know a lot of giant beginners go for “the smaller animal” only to dive into the deep end attitude wise.

For defensive bites, you’re gonna have to spend a few minutes every day and hopefully the animal chills out with time. I do know a lot of defensive kids like to be held way above your head (like you’re a tree) so it doesn’t feel like their owner is looming.

Good luck! Going from ball pythons to retics sure is a jump.


hook train makes life a lot easier to dis associate food with coming out, they’re extremely intelligent animals, so just take your time and read they’re behavior you’ll be good



I believe Tigger was 3 years old when I got her. She was a rescue. She was abandoned in a home on the south side of Chicago. The people remodeling the home got in contact with me through a rescue from Las vegas. They told me they believed she was living in the home for about 3 months before they started the remodeling. They knew she was in the house but could never catch her. They found Tigger in the laundry sink, trying to get water one day. And caught her and put her in a dog crate.

I picked up Tigger about 1 hour before animal control was going to show up. Animal control was just going to euthanize her. Chicago animal control kills all snakes and will not find homes for them, I was told.


Wow! What an outright miracle for the both of you! My heart breaks for Tigger before you rescued her! But how much joy she gave to you and your family! Stories like this do my heart good. In the millennium humans and animals will coexist peacefully with no violence against one another. Perhaps then I will be able to enjoy retics up close and personal!

You are a jewel Tom. Thank you so much for sharing! :slightly_smiling_face:


Even though it’s 25% it’s unlikely it’ll stay any smaller than a regular one, percentages don’t really count unless they’re from truthful breeders that list the size of their adult animals etc. Tap train, tap train, and tap train. Every time you open the cage when you aren’t feeding gently rub the hook on its face. This is a species that i’ve seen tame animals instantly strike out of the cage when abruptly opened. Young animals love to climb, handle often, you get out of them what you put into them. Baby bites don’t hurt thankfully, you got this :muscle:


This is some really good advice! I’m definitely gonna keep this in mind as I have two retics myself I’m raising up. My two are both mainland, no SD blood in them afaik.

I’ve already started with tap training and it’s been successful so far. My girl Godiva is so small still that I use an empty paper towel roll, but most of the time I just show it to her and after giving her a few moments to “process” she will recognize it as “not getting food” and turn the other way and then I can reach in and pick her up.

Or if she’s in blue or in a particularly bad mood that day, she will sometimes strike at the paper towel tube.

Once she’s out though she’s an absolute sweetheart and just cruises through my hands.

Xerxes on the other hand, is quite a bit bigger than her already so I’m using the snake hook with him. He will strike at the side of his tub sometimes when seeing us walk past, his feeding response is that strong!
But once he’s out of feeding mode and out of his enclosure he’s also puppydog tame and rather curious and explorative.

Something I wanted to add, make sure you shut off any ceiling fans you have if they’re in the same room. This isn’t an issue when they’re younger since they can’t reach it but my two (and some of my boas) seem to get very captivated by the ceiling fan because it’s on most of the time to keep air circulating, but you wouldn’t want them getting caught in it when they’re full grown!