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Old 07-27-18, 05:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Snake freaking out when touched (help)

I recently (3 weeks) got a corn snake, he's the first snake I've ever had as a pet. He's about 7 months old and is eating fine.
I've handled him before and he's been fine, a little bit fast and jumpy but he calms down.

I moved house about a week ago and today was the first time I tried to handle him. When I did, I tried to pick him up like I usually do, at the mid-section with two hands. But he completely freaked out, he slithered away faster than I've ever saw him move before and tried to hide (?) by going up to the light and lying across it. He's never done this before and I'm pretty worried.

I was wondering if he is maybe still stressed from the move? Or is there any other reason why he reacted like this, is it relatively normal for corn snakes to sometimes do this?
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Old 07-28-18, 06:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Snake freaking out when touched (help)

Pretty normal behaviour.
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Old 07-28-18, 06:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Snake freaking out when touched (help)

That's just a young corn snake doing what they do. They are quick, flighty and fantastic escape artists.
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Old 07-28-18, 08:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Snake freaking out when touched (help)

You got him from a pet shop and haven'y had him long, so he isn't really accustomed to handling yet. Most corn or king snakes are flighty when they're young, but will learn that you feed them and handling isn't a threat so they calm down. My corn snake and speckled king pair aren't handled often, but they will quickly come right out of their hides or right up the side of the tub/tank if they're already out on feeding day. If I pick one up they don't mind, but when they see that there's no food involved they'd rather go their own way than be handled. That's a normal response from a comfortable snake IME. If they're feeling threatened or stressed corn or king snakes will buzz the tip of their tail.
My green bush rats are still flighty about handling even after more than a year, and most often will bite when picked up and handled. They often remain in defensive striking pose until returned to the tub if they aren't just trying to escape my hands. It's not like they actually even hurt when they do, if one does break the skin and draw a few wee drops of blood it's the only way to actually tell where they struck.
Don't restrain the snake too much when handling, just enough to keep them under control until they settle down a bit, and allow them to keep moving from hand to hand until they become calmer. (Or in the case of the green bush rats, settle into a defensive posture, lol.)
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Old 07-28-18, 09:01 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Snake freaking out when touched (help)

Yeah that's normal even my one of my corn snakes is like that when picking him up however once he is held and smooth and slow movements are made he is very calm.

Best I can suggest to avoid this best you can if it worries you is try to not appear as a predator to them by not towering over them and going from above with your hands and try and approach with your hands from the side. Also no sudden grabs instead take it in a calm and confident approach if that makes sense. The only thing that will potentially help further is get it used to handling and you may get bit if it's startled enough but fear not, a corn snake bite is less painful than a cat scratch from what I hear. Best way to avoid getting bit though is feed them with tongs in a separate container so they don't recognize hands going to grab them as food.
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Old 07-28-18, 09:12 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Snake freaking out when touched (help)

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Originally Posted by Iseitaku View Post
Best way to avoid getting bit though is feed them with tongs in a separate container so they don't recognize hands going to grab them as food.
I agree with using tongs, but 100% disagree with the seoerate container.

Feed inside the enclosure. There are absolutely zero benefits of using a feeding tub.

Feeding in a separate tub
A) increases chances of a refusal due to stressing the snake prior to feeding
B) increases the chance of the snake regurgitating it's meal due to being moved and stressed after eating
C) increases the chance of you getting tagged, since the snake is still in feed mode when you try to move it back

The "food aggression" thing is a myth, proven false over years with thousands of animals.
I have NEVER been tagged inside any of my snake's enclosures. Never even struck at. I HAVE been tagged outside the enclosure.

If you're concerned with substrate impaction:
a) nobody cleans their food in the wild
b) if you're still concerned, lay a paper plate or cardboard down (not paper towel) even though the snake will likely drag the prey wherever it wants.
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Old 07-28-18, 09:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Snake freaking out when touched (help)

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Originally Posted by craigafrechette View Post
I agree with using tongs, but 100% disagree with the seoerate container.

Feed inside the enclosure. There are absolutely zero benefits of using a feeding tub.

Feeding in a separate tub
A) increases chances of a refusal due to stressing the snake prior to feeding
B) increases the chance of the snake regurgitating it's meal due to being moved and stressed after eating
C) increases the chance of you getting tagged, since the snake is still in feed mode when you try to move it back

The "food aggression" thing is a myth, proven false over years with thousands of animals.
I have NEVER been tagged inside any of my snake's enclosures. Never even struck at. I HAVE been tagged outside the enclosure.

If you're concerned with substrate impaction:
a) nobody cleans their food in the wild
b) if you're still concerned, lay a paper plate or cardboard down (not paper towel) even though the snake will likely drag the prey wherever it wants.
I have had them for about a year now and had no issues short of a one time occurrence but that was more my fault for having my friends crowded around showing Red eating a mouse. Never been tagged by them as they are VERY well behaved. The idea behind feeding them in a separate container is simply getting it ingrain into them that they don't eat in their home so you can reach in without worry of being bit. As for putting them back you simply don't touch them you tip the container so they harmlessly slide back into their tank and you don't need to touch them once.

However this all boils down to the snake's personality, some behave differently and require different methods.

In the end the thing to consider is that snakes are not like dogs which are domesticated and you can just approach as normal and pet and hold and they will be perfectly fine with it for the most part. Snakes are tamed NOT domesticated. No matter how much training you do they are still at their core wild animals and have their own isntincts and can NEVER be domesticated like dogs can. Snakes will follow their instincts the most which is why some snakes have their own behavior which you will have to adapt to if you cannot train them in that aspect.
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Old 07-28-18, 09:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Snake freaking out when touched (help)

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Originally Posted by Iseitaku View Post
The idea behind feeding them in a separate container is simply getting it ingrain into them that they don't eat in their home so you can reach in without worry of being bit.
If that's the reasoning you do it, then one could propose that if you move them into a separate feeding container then you'd be conditioning them to expect or anticipate food when being handled since every time they get food they are held first, and if I didn't know better, i'd say that would be even worse than food association in the cage, but that's not the case. No snake would prefer being moved to be fed, no matter the species or their individual quirks. Sometimes there are one-off situations where it may be warranted, but those situations are usually not encountered unless someone is breeding or co-habbing their animals. Craig has already expanded on this in a different way, so I won't add much more. The best thing to do in order to discourage food association would be to use a hook or other object to touch the snake on the head or neck with before handling. Feeding containers is not the answer, but if one gets comfort in using one, it is their snake and their right to do so.
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Old 07-28-18, 10:31 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Snake freaking out when touched (help)

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Originally Posted by Andy_G View Post
If that's the reasoning you do it, then one could propose that if you move them into a separate feeding container then you'd be conditioning them to expect or anticipate food when being handled since every time they get food they are held first, and if I didn't know better, i'd say that would be even worse than food association in the cage, but that's not the case. No snake would prefer being moved to be fed, no matter the species or their individual quirks. Sometimes there are one-off situations where it may be warranted, but those situations are usually not encountered unless someone is breeding or co-habbing their animals. Craig has already expanded on this in a different way, so I won't add much more. The best thing to do in order to discourage food association would be to use a hook or other object to touch the snake on the head or neck with before handling. Feeding containers is not the answer, but if one gets comfort in using one, it is their snake and their right to do so.
That makes sense then because they both had lived in the same tank the entire time so perhaps that is why they were fed in separate containers. Never thought of it that way.
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Old 07-29-18, 05:45 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Snake freaking out when touched (help)

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Originally Posted by Iseitaku View Post
I have had them for about a year now and had no issues short of a one time occurrence but that was more my fault for having my friends crowded around showing Red eating a mouse. Never been tagged by them as they are VERY well behaved. The idea behind feeding them in a separate container is simply getting it ingrain into them that they don't eat in their home so you can reach in without worry of being bit. As for putting them back you simply don't touch them you tip the container so they harmlessly slide back into their tank and you don't need to touch them once.

However this all boils down to the snake's personality, some behave differently and require different methods.

In the end the thing to consider is that snakes are not like dogs which are domesticated and you can just approach as normal and pet and hold and they will be perfectly fine with it for the most part. Snakes are tamed NOT domesticated. No matter how much training you do they are still at their core wild animals and have their own isntincts and can NEVER be domesticated like dogs can. Snakes will follow their instincts the most which is why some snakes have their own behavior which you will have to adapt to if you cannot train them in that aspect.
With all due respect, I replied to try to help the OP. I'm not trying to get into your unique situation of cohabitation. (That would be an exception to the rule to use a seperate feeding tub. BUT, since cohabbing is also highly discouraged, that's a topic for a different thread) We're here to help the OP with her questions and new corn snake. Trying to encourage a technique that is unique to your situation is in no way helping the OP.

I have already explained all the reasons why feeding INSIDE the enclosure is the safest, most reliable way to feed. The food aggression thing has been proven over years with thousands upon thousands of snakes to be a myth. I have fed all of my snakes inside their enclosures since I got into thus hobby in 1999/2000. Never once have I been tagged or struck at inside the enclosure.
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