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Old 05-19-17, 09:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Trying to eat my hand?!

So I got this new-to-me corn snake. She's actually four and lived with a breeder previously. I have her in this spacious terrarium with lots of hides and climbing branches.

Anyway, she's done this strange thing a few times. We just started handling her and she will kind of open her mouth and press her face into my palm, almost like she is trying to eat my hand. Both times she has done this she has bitten somebody (never me, Hahahahaha) and seemed high strung. On "normal" days she seems pretty chill and doesn't do the mouth open thing.

I can see that snake-keeping is a practice, and I'm but a novice. I'd like to know what the community things. Thanks!
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Old 05-19-17, 09:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Trying to eat my hand?!

I'd venture to guess she's getting stressed at all the handling, but I could be wrong.

For example, I picked up my Southern Pine today and she was just fine...until I transferred her to her new viv, from the sterilite container I transported her home in. After I put her down in the viv, she went psycho, opening her mouth wide, hissing, and striking the glass of the viv several times trying to get at me.

Quite the display...I was impressed!!

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Originally Posted by JRLongton View Post
So I got this new-to-me corn snake. She's actually four and lived with a breeder previously. I have her in this spacious terrarium with lots of hides and climbing branches.

Anyway, she's done this strange thing a few times. We just started handling her and she will kind of open her mouth and press her face into my palm, almost like she is trying to eat my hand. Both times she has done this she has bitten somebody (never me, Hahahahaha) and seemed high strung. On "normal" days she seems pretty chill and doesn't do the mouth open thing.

I can see that snake-keeping is a practice, and I'm but a novice. I'd like to know what the community things. Thanks!
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Old 05-20-17, 01:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Trying to eat my hand?!

Sounds to me like a bit of stress.. Corns aren't known to be aggressive at all. How long have you had her and how often is she 'disturbed' by you (opening terra, doing stuff inside, fishing her out, etc). Snakes need some time to get comfortable, ~1 week without any disturbance is generally advised.

Of course make sure temperatures, humidity, substrate is right. Also have enough hiding places.
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Old 05-20-17, 01:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Trying to eat my hand?!

The fact that it's nosing about and then opening up and biting...that sounds like a food response to me and nothing to do with stress...just my experience though. Some do this, almost all don't. Is your snake getting enough food and do you own any small mammals that you may be handling beforehand?
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Old 05-20-17, 04:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Trying to eat my hand?!

My bloodred did this when I took her out of the snake bag to check on her after she was shipped to me...it was cute until it wasn't anymore lol...now she's a brat -.-
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Old 05-21-17, 06:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Trying to eat my hand?!

We left her totally alone for the first week. The only disturbances were to look at her through the glass and change her water once every two days or so. Her terrarium is a large, 4'x2', PVC, from Animal Plastics, with lots of hides and climbing opportunities.

I fed her one large mouse after the first week. The breeder I bought her from said she was fed once every two weeks, and that first feeding from me was her first meal in a fortnight. I waited two days after feeding her. After those two days, I took her out for handling everyday for about 10-15 minutes.

Maybe she is stressed. Maybe she's just hungry. Two weeks does seem like a bit long for her to go.

I plan a two pronged approach. Left her alone all day yesterday, today I'll feed her two large mice, and then leave her alone until Tuesday, which will be two days. If it's stress from over attention, then she'll have a chance to calm down. And if its hunger, she'll be stuffed. Then out and handling again.

Thoughts?
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Old 05-21-17, 06:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Trying to eat my hand?!

Oh, and no small animals except cats. I'm not sure they are considered to be small compared to a corn snake.
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Old 05-21-17, 07:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Trying to eat my hand?!

Sounds like a little of both. 2 weeks is pushing corn snakes for feeding especially depending on size versus prey. That's pretty much the maximum wait and mine eat more weekly but slightly small prey for their size. 1 week to get used to a huge enclosure with glass sides so everything is there may be short for some. Is it used to a display tank around people in the first place? If not covering some sides or increasing the shelter level, not just object level, may be good. If it's strike biting and releasing people I would say that's stress and defensive rather than food no matter the reason for the other. Getting it well fed though may still calm down it's response level. Well fed snakes are not spending as much time alert looking for meals so often less reactive. Some species are just known to strike anything that moves if you aren't careful but generally not corn snakes. They usually have a reason for biting and keeping them well fed and feeling safe should fix it. Try not to do whatever behaviors are invoking the bites. It may be something simple like the other person not reaching from higher than the snake or as close to the head so it's less threatening.

I got a little baby "aggressive" corn snake for cheap because he kept biting. Whenever he would tighten or pull back to get defensive I just lowered my hand farther and he'd keep crawling across me. Soon he learned I would not push into his space from a threatening angle and for awhile he went to just trying to bolt from us all the time. In just a few months he more acts irritated you disturbed him by touching him when he's basking or around and the day after feeding and shifts away a bit. I don't get any defensive reactions anymore and he's a round, happily fed snake so while he eagerly takes his rodent he has no reason to be on the look out beyond feeding times. He can simply chill now when handled by the non-threatening humans and watch the things that never bother him in his tank.
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