Want to become a snake charmer? No, I’m not talking about hypnotizing a cobra snake in a basket while playing a pungi. I’m referring to building a meaningful connection with your pet snake so you can enjoy each other’s company for years to come.
Although snakes don’t have the emotional capacity to bond with us like a dog or a cat would, they can still learn to appreciate and even enjoy human interaction.
So, whether you’re a seasoned snake owner or adding a new slithery companion to your family for the first time, you might be wondering how to bond with your snake.
Building a bond with your snake starts with providing a comfortable habitat, gradually introducing your presence, and handling frequently. It’s also important to understand your snake’s body language and know when to avoid handling. By interacting regularly but also respecting your snake’s boundaries, you’ll be able to develop a special bond with your scaly friend.
In this article, we’ll go over all there is to know about snake bonding and share practical tips to help you establish trust and build a special connection with your snake.
But first, let’s explore if snakes are even capable of recognizing and liking their owners:
Can My Snake Recognize Me?
Yes, your snake is totally capable of recognizing you! Thanks to a super cool sensory organ, called Jacobson’s organ, snakes can detect and analyze scents in the air and on objects.
When a snake flicks its tongue in the air, it collects scent particles from the environment. These particles then enter the Jacobson’s organ where they are analyzed by special cells.
This process enables snakes to gather important information about their surroundings, such as the presence of prey, predators, or even potential mates.
In captivity, snakes can use this sense to determine who their caregiver is, and even differentiate between different people.
So, even though snakes don’t recognize us using sight or sound like most other animals, they have their own special way of figuring out who their caregivers are.
How Can I Get My Snake To Like Me?
We can tame our snakes so they become accustomed to handling, but can we get them to actually like us?
The good news is, it is possible to win over the heart of your scaly companion and earn their trust over time!
While snakes may not experience feelings of affection the same way we do, they are capable of associating us with positive experiences and growing to appreciate our presence.
By using the same methods that help us build a bond with our snakes, we can also establish a genuine liking between us and them as well.
So, let’s slither into the next section and explore 9 effective ways to create a special bond with your snake!
1. Create A Comfortable Environment
Above all, it’s essential that your snake’s basic needs are being met. A happy and content snake will be much more open to forming a bond than one that is stressed or unwell in its living conditions.
Your snake’s habitat should be comfortable and secure, and mimic their natural environment as closely as possible.
Start by providing an adequate-sized enclosure that allows your snake to move around comfortably. Then, you’ll want to set it up with the right temperature and humidity ranges, proper lighting, and substrate for your snake species.
Once the basic setup needs are met, add in some hiding spots and enrichment items, like branches to climb and logs to explore. These will give your snake a sense of security and stimulate its natural behaviors.
Last but not least, you’ll want to make sure that you’re providing your snake with a healthy diet. It’s quite common for captive snakes to struggle with obesity, which can cause various health problems and shorten their lifespan.
So, although we all enjoy spoiling our pets and showering them with treats, it’s important to keep their physical condition in mind.
Each of these factors plays a crucial role in maintaining your snake’s overall health and well-being, which leads to it being more receptive to interaction and handling.
2. Give Your Snake Time To Adjust
Just like us, snakes need time to adjust to a new environment.
When you first bring your snake home, it will naturally feel a little stressed or overwhelmed. Give it some time alone during the first week to become familiar with its new home and surroundings.
By creating a safe and secure space for it and leaving it alone in its enclosure, your snake will be allowed to explore its new habitat and get comfortable without any disturbances.
It will also help to build your snake’s confidence and reduce any stress, giving you and your snake a better chance at a friendly first introduction.
After some time, you can gradually start interacting with your snake. If you notice that your snake is still showing signs of aggression even after the initial time period alone, wait a few more days and then try again.
Eventually, it will become more comfortable and ready for interaction.
3. Introduce Your Presence Slowly
The next important step that can have a positive impact when bonding with your snake is spending time in the same room and around your snake’s enclosure.
Once your snake has had some time to adjust to its new surroundings, sit nearby and engage in quiet activities like reading a book, watching tv, or simply observing them. You might even try speaking softly to it so it can get used to the frequency of your voice.
Doing this will allow your snake to become familiar with your scent and your presence, associating you with a sense of calmness instead of seeing you as a threat.
Once your snake seems comfortable enough with you being around, you can begin introducing yourself within its enclosure when it is calm and relaxed. This can be done by gently placing your hand inside its enclosure, offering it food, or replacing its water.
Remember to move slowly and carefully to assure your snake that you aren’t there to harm it. Sudden movements can startle your snake, potentially triggering defensive behaviors.
If at any point your snake appears to feel threatened and ready to strike, it’s best to slowly pull your hand out and try again in a day or two.
4. Understand Your Snake’s Body Language
Snakes communicate through subtle body language cues. By understanding and interpreting these signals, you can adjust your approach accordingly.
A snake that is content and relaxed will exhibit calm behavior. It should move slowly and gracefully as it’s draped around you, occasionally flicking its tongue to check out its surroundings.
On the other hand, a stressed snake might make quick and abrupt movements, as if it’s trying to get away.
One common sign of a snake’s discomfort is a defensive posture, such as coiling up or forming an S-shape with its neck. This is a warning signal that if you don’t back away, the snake will strike at you and possibly even bite.
In this situation, it’s best to give the snake space and avoid handling it until it feels more at ease.
It may also hiss at you or defecate during handling as a defense mechanism to ward off perceived threats. These are tactics snakes use to protect themselves in the wild when trying to get away from predators.
Paying attention to these signals will help you recognize when your snake is feeling stressed or uncomfortable, allowing you to respond appropriately and build trust.
5. Associate Yourself With Positive Experiences
Another thing that is good to focus on when nurturing a strong bond with your snake is creating positive associations.
By engaging in activities that your snake enjoys and finding ways to reward it, it will learn that you being around is a good thing.
Consider letting your snake out with you to explore or hang out with you while you do chores around the house.
You might even take your snake outside in your yard where it can slither through the grass and bask in the warm sunlight. Just be cautious to ensure its safety, and make sure it can’t escape or get itself into any trouble!
Another great way to associate yourself with positivity is by feeding your snake from your hands. This not only establishes trust but also creates a connection between the two of you as the provider of your snake’s meals.
And don’t hold back from offering your little friend tasty treats! Find out your snake’s preferences and give it something delicious to indulge in.
This, along with hand feeding your snake, are excellent ways to get it to associate you with positive moments and things it can enjoy.
Lastly, discover what activities your snake likes to engage in and let it do more of that. Whether it’s providing climbing structures or interactive toys, or maybe it likes to go for a swim in your bathtub.
Find ways to keep your snake mentally stimulated and it should be happy and content with you.
6. Interact With Your Snake Regularly
One of the most effective ways to foster a strong bond with your snake is through regular interaction. This plays a vital role in developing trust and maintaining a connection with your slithery companion.
Once your snake has had sufficient time to settle into its new home, you can begin to initiate daily interactions.
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to introduce yourself to your snake gradually. Spend time in the room each day with your snake, so it can grow comfortable with you and your presence.
Then, take the first step in connecting with your snake by placing your hand inside its enclosure and allowing it to become familiar with your smell.
Speak to your snake softly, so it can become familiar with the tones (or frequencies) of your voice.
From there, you can gradually progress to handling your snake. Be mindful of how to approach it – make sure to approach it from the side and not from above as this could be unsettling for your new friend.
Start with short holding sessions and increase the duration over time. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of handling each day, either in a single session or divided into two 15-minute sessions.
During handling time, create a comfortable space for your snake to feel relaxed. Allow it to sit in your lap and explore the area around you. If it feels more secure being wrapped around something, you can let it wrap itself around your arm.
Consistency is key here, as regular and frequent handling will help your snake become more used to you. So, try to do this daily, especially at first, until your snake shows signs of being familiar with you.
7. Handle Your Snake Gently And Safely
Below, we’ll discuss some essential tips on how to handle your snake with care. But first, take a moment to check out this helpful video that covers some of these valuable tips and more!
Wash Your Hands
First and foremost, remember to wash your hands both before and after handling your snake. This simple step helps prevent the spread of germs between you and your snake, ensuring a healthy environment for both of you.
Avoid Grabbing Your Snake From Above
When approaching your snake, avoid touching or grabbing it from above. This could be interpreted as a threat, making your snake feel uneasy. Instead, approach from the side.
Avoid Petting Your Snake
While it may be tempting to pet your snake before picking it up, it’s better not to. Petting can cause your snake to become stressed, which could make it more difficult to continue handling your snake.
Pick up your snake with confidence. If you feel nervous or uncertain, your snake may sense it through your body language and become uneasy itself.
Lifting Up Your Snake
To lift your snake, gently grasp the middle of its body. If your snake is longer than a couple of feet, use one hand to secure it about a third of the way down from its head, and the other hand about a third of the way up from its tail. Avoid gripping it behind the head whenever possible.
Keep in mind that arboreal snakes may prefer to slither onto your hand from a branch or another object. Be patient and allow them to make their own way onto your hand for a smoother and more comfortable experience.
Don’t Grab Your Snake By Its Tail
It’s important that you never attempt to grab your snake by its tail. Doing this may cause it to become defensive, and it could swing around and bite you. Always prioritize the safety of both you and your snake.
Hold Your Snake Securely
When handling larger snakes, you can let them wrap themselves around your arm for more support. For smaller snakes, wrap their tails gently between your fingers to prevent flailing and to get a better grip.
Allow your snake to crawl around on your hands and arms, keeping them close to your body to create a sense of stability. This will help your snake to feel more secure and minimize the fear of falling.
Avoid Handling Your Snake After Touching Its Food
Avoid handling your snake immediately after touching its food. The scent of the food may trigger your snake’s hunting instincts, leading to a potential strike.
Avoid Handling Your Snake After Feeding It
After your snake has eaten, it’s important to avoid handling it for 2-3 days to allow it time to rest and digest its food. Snakes need periods of rest and digestion after consuming their meals.
Handling or disturbing them during these times could disrupt their natural process and potentially lead to regurgitation or other health issues. Not to mention, you might end up with a very irritated snake.
Keep Handling Sessions Short
Lastly, it’s good to keep your handling sessions brief and aim to end on a positive note with your snake feeling at ease.
8. Respect Your Snake’s Boundaries
Just like humans, snakes have different moods and personalities. Some snakes are naturally more curious and social, while others may be more reserved.
It’s crucial to respect your snake’s boundaries and not force interaction or handling when it doesn’t want you to. Let your snake set the pace and approach you when it feels comfortable.
By respecting your snake’s boundaries, you’ll create an environment of trust, comfort, and understanding. This will not only strengthen your bond but also promote its overall well-being and happiness.
9. Understand That It Takes Patience, Time, And Consistency
When it comes to bonding with your snake, patience is key. Building trust and a strong connection is a gradual process that requires time and consistency.
Remember that each snake is unique and has their own individual preferences and comfort levels.
It may take some snakes longer than others to come around to interaction, and pushing them beyond their comfort zone can hinder the bonding process.
So, respect your snake’s individuality and allow it to progress with you at its own pace.
If you consistently apply the tips we’ve discussed and allow your snake to feel safe and secure with you, you’ll establish mutual trust and a strong connection.
Manage Your Expectations
We’ve covered various methods on how to build a bond with your pet snake. However, it’s important to keep in mind that reptiles interact with us differently than how other lovable pets like a dog or a cat would.
As mentioned above, snakes aren’t able to develop a deep emotional attachment to us or love us in the same way we might love them. But that doesn’t mean they can’t form a positive association with us and appreciate our presence.
They can certainly grow to like us, especially when we offer tasty treats.
It’s essential to understand your snake’s limitations and not expect the same level of affection as you would from a cuddly pet. Instead, focus on building a sense of trust and mutual respect with your scaly friend.
By setting realistic expectations and acknowledging your snake’s unique nature, you’ll be able to forge a meaningful connection that is true to the nature of these fascinating creatures.
Building a bond with your snake can be an incredibly rewarding journey, so I hope you’ve found the tips outlined in this guide helpful.
By providing a comfortable habitat, taking the time to understand your snake’s needs, and interacting with it regularly, you can establish a special connection.
But remember, patience and consistency are key when it comes to bonding with snakes. It’s important to be attentive to their body language, respect their boundaries, and always handle them with care.
With each passing day, you’ll witness the trust and appreciation grow between you and your slithery companion.