In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can I handle my ball python everyday? We talk about the correct handling of pet snakes, the signs of discomfort and stress in snakes and what to do when a ball python shows aggression.
Can I handle my ball python everyday?
It is not recommended to handle your ball python everyday. Snakes don’t need to interact with humans regularly for mental stimulation. Most owners like to handle their ball pythons at least once a day, but this can be too much. It is best to continue handling regularly but infrequently, limiting it to once or twice a week.
The reason captive snakes require some kind of manipulation is that it keeps them tame. They are easier to handle during feeding and cage cleaning if you keep their docile nature. Always include a pause between manipulations to avoid undue stress on your animal.
Do not handle during moulting and feeding
Never handle a snake when it is entering its shed cycle and immediately after a meal.
Snakes are best left alone during moulting because their eyes turn milky or blue, limiting their vision. Lack of vision can make a snake defensive or aggressive. It is common for ball pythons to hide most of the time while moulting. To avoid causing stress to your snake, give it a little time until it is completely shed before handling it.
Don’t panic if your ball python refuses to eat. According to a study published in the journal Zoology, snakes can reduce their metabolic rate by up to 70%, allowing them to avoid food for weeks and even months. Be sure to provide a dish of water large enough to soak during pouring. Keeping humidity levels between 50 and 60 per cent can also help the ball python shed properly.
It is also not recommended to handle a ball python immediately after a meal, as doing so can cause regurgitation and other digestive problems.
When should I hold a ball python after feeding?
According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, snakes ingest their prey in one gulp and therefore take much longer to digest their food.
Give your snake at least two days before handling, or wait until the bloating subsides. It takes around 48 hours for a ball python to start its digestive process, after which it is much safer to handle a snake.
What Are the Signs of Stress in Ball Pythons?
If a ball python curls into a ball during manipulation, it means that it is under tension or does not want to be manipulated. It is better to respect their wishes at such times and try again another day.
If you’re having trouble determining if your ball python is stressed, watch out for the following signs:
- Balling up tightly while being handled and refusing to uncurl
- Hitting when no food is present
- Refusal to eat (common in snake shedding)
- Try to escape while being manipulated
- Moving constantly within the enclosure
- Always trying to escape its enclosure
- Does not move the tongue during manipulation
Ball pythons get stressed out for many reasons. If your python is new to your home, it may still be adjusting to your enclosure. It may also be helpful to check the temperature, light and humidity settings.
Ball pythons also show signs of stress when they go into their shed cycle. In general, it is best to leave the stressed snake alone and offer it food only when it needs to be fed.
A happy ball python is one that hides frequently, but not all the time. As long as you have maintained the correct temperature levels in your enclosure and are not refusing to do so, chances are you are adjusting well to your new environment.
What to do when a ball python shows aggression
Ball pythons are not aggressive snakes. A snake hook can help calm a wayward ball python and condition it for further handling.
Ball pythons that display aggressiveness often strike when their owners reach their cages. One tactic is to retrieve a ball python from its enclosure while it is still under hiding. By doing this, you are keeping your head covered while trying to place your hands in the mid-region of your body.
If you have children, always supervise children while handling a ball python or any other snake. Never bring your face close to the head of the snake. You shouldn’t let it wrap your neck either. If you are trying to wrap around your neck, place one hand between you and the snake’s body to prevent it from wrapping too much.
What to do when a ball python bites
Expect to be bitten if your snake mistakes you for food when trying to feed it directly with your hands or still has the scent of its prey on your fingers.
If you are bitten by your ball python, avoid ripping the snake off as this could damage its teeth or jaws, increasing the risk of infection.
Ball pythons have backwards-facing teeth. So pull the snake towards you, instead of away from your body. If the ball python won’t let go, spray some cold water or rubbing alcohol on its face.
Ball python bites are harmless, so just treating the wound with a little soap and warm water, followed by an antibiotic ointment should be enough to treat it.
How to safely hold your snake?
Ball pythons are very shy and it will take them a while to get used to you. Approach it little by little and if you see that it gets nervous just walk away. When it finally lets you touch it, you should hold the snake gently and avoid sudden movements, because these can make it nervous and cause it to react violently.
Of course, as you surely know, python snakes are not poisonous and in the case of this, their bite only leaves superficial wounds.
If your ball python has already gained your confidence and out of nowhere it starts acting weird, better leave it alone. In the cold and dry seasons, these little friends prepare to leave their skin and adopt a solitary behaviour. The shedding of the skin can last up to 2 weeks. Be patient!
How to grab snakes?
The first thing to handle a snake is to be calm and alert, you must never lose respect, especially with large constrictors. All unknown snakes must be treated as if they were poisonous, you must never handle an unknown snake with your bare hands. Better to use a snake pit or stick and keep your hands away.
The most critical moment is to grab them inside the terrarium. You always have to take them with both hands, offering 2 support points to distribute the weight and make them feel safe. Use some tricks for their manipulation to avoid any surprise.
For example, always try to put your hand slowly on it and always make sure that the animal’s head is facing the opposite side. Once you grab it and lift it, you are almost done.
Another thing that can be done is before handling it, to blow gently so that your pet will recognize your smell. By doing this the ball python can even relax when they are a little disturbed – but this has to be done every time they are going to be manipulated. Besides that, you should never make unexpected movements or touch them and remove your hand quickly, since they could think that it is a predator and become scared and attack.
When it comes to giant snakes things can be different, you always have to be alert, since an angry animal of this size can be dangerous. A giant snake is understood to be anything that exceeds 3 meters.
With these sizes, you will always have to manipulate the animal between two people and give it some good support points, so that the animal does not believe that it is going to fall and tries to hold on to us strongly.
Transporting your snake
When transporting your snake it is ideal to use a cloth bag tied. Small snakes can be transported in plastic containers with some type of absorbent paper. Always try to have a stable temperature and never leave the animal in a car exposed to the sun.
If the outside temperature is low we can insert the bag inside a shirt close to our body to heat it. Another trick is to put a closed container with hot water in the carrier that we carry our animal, coating it to prevent burning. This is useful when we take them to the vet.
In this blog post, we answered the following question: Can I handle my ball python everyday? We talked about the correct handling of pet snakes, the signs of discomfort and stress in snakes and what to do when a ball python shows aggression.
You should handle your ball python up to 3 times a week, but no more. Snakes are solitary creatures, they do not like to be held. We are handling snakes for our own excitement and pleasure, not theirs.
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FAQ on Can I handle my ball python everyday?
How long can you hold a ball python?
It is recommended to hold a ball python for up to 20 minutes. Snakes are solitary creatures, they also do not recognize us as their owners – they just know we do not represent danger.
Can a Ball Python get out of its cage?
Yes, a Ball Python can get out of its cage, especially if the lid is not secured. Snakes are not meant to be kept in a “box” and if there is a way out, they will always find it.
Can I take my snake out in public?
Legally you can take your snake out in public, but be aware that snakes scare most of the people, thus you will create panic. And if you do decide to take it out, better keep further away from heavily populated areas.
How do I stop my ball python from escaping?
To stop your ball python from escaping you should always make sure you closed safely the lid of the terrarium. If you can lift it easily with your finger, your snake will be able to do that with his head.
Are Ball Pythons good at escaping?
Yes, ball pythons are very good at escaping. They are called escape artists. You should make sure the lid of the terrarium is firmly closed and it is better if you keep the snake in an escape-proof room in your house.
Avianandexotic.com – Ball Python Care Sheet
Reptifiles.com – Ball Python Handling Tips
Petlifetoday.com -How To Take Care Of A Ball Python