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Old 05-01-15, 12:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Apr-2015
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How do you "tame" a rowdy snake?

I've decided to keep the praire kingsnake I caught for 3 weeks in order to see if he's a project I'm willing to commit to. He's legal.

I've estimated his age to be around 6 or 7 months.

He strikes a lot and gets into a very denfensive posture when trying to pick him up and I'm not exactly sure about the do's and don't's when it comes to taming him down a bit.

Do I lift him often or leave him be? I've set a limit of 30 minutes max of holding a day.

If he gets into his defensive posture do I leave him alone or just ignore this behavior?

and is it okay or bad habit to wear gloves that he can't bite through? I know that snakes can learn to associate things with certain events and I'm thinking that if I wear gloves to lift him and then start not wearing them that he will be more prone to bite because he doesn't recognize my bare hands. But if I don't wear gloves... I'm going to be bit often.

Holding him once he's up in my hands is no problem. Which is expected.

Thanks! and I'm fully open to criticism as long as it's constructive.


Last edited by Praireboyfarmer; 05-01-15 at 01:11 PM..
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Old 05-01-15, 01:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
Join Date: Sep-2013
Location: Conyers
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Re: How do you "tame" a rowdy snake?

While I am not a fan of keeping wild caught snakes (especially since they could carry disease or parasites to your other reptiles) I understand your desire to do so. That said, if I were trying to get a young WC snake like that to calm down, I would start by leaving it alone in its enclosure for 2 to 3 weeks. Then I would handle it about three times a week for no more than 10 minutes per session. Ater a while, it should learn that you don't represent any threat and eventually settle down. Others may have more experience keeping WC snakes and hopefully they will chime in.

p.s. Skip the gloves. It can't hurt you and you want to get it used to your hands anyway. If you get tagged a couple of times, well that goes with the territory.
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Old 05-01-15, 01:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: How do you "tame" a rowdy snake?

Gloves or no glove really dosent matter. Let it settle in for a couple weeks without disturbing it any more that you absolutely have too. Then it will continue to mellow with age. However it probably wont ever as calm as a captive bred snake. But give him some time and he will calm down.
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Old 05-01-15, 01:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: How do you "tame" a rowdy snake?

I agree with reptiledude, but it is a wild animal. Prarie kings are so easy to purchase from a breeder and their temperament would be so much better. Born free live free. Born wild live wild. Just let him go and order one that is healthy and more keeper friendly. Stay in peace and not pieces. Order one from a breeder! Have a heart and let the little guy go free so he won't be too stressed.
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Old 05-01-15, 01:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: How do you "tame" a rowdy snake?

I kept quite a few wild caught kingsnakes when I was a kid that were every bit as tame as any CB one from the start. And they did very well in captivity. I only remember one that didn't tame down. He just had a bad attitude.
...the old ones ... knew in their bones... that death exists, that all life kills to eat, that all lives end, that energy goes on. They knew that humans are participants, not spectators. -- Stephen Bodio, On the Edge of the Wild
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Old 05-01-15, 04:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: How do you "tame" a rowdy snake?

When I have new baby snakes, I leave them alone until after they've had two meals without any issues. Then I start working with them for just about 5 minutes every day(except feeding day and the 2 days afterwards); nothing major, just lifting them up off the ground(still over their enclosure). If they have 2 more meals without issue doing this, then I start taking them out for 15 or 20 minutes, a bit farther from the enclosure. Once they're "tamed" to my satisfaction I handle them less frequently(usually once a week or so, depending on how I'm feel). If at any point in the taming process they refuse or regurgitate a meal, or have a bad shed, I leave them alone until they start eating again and then restart the process with less frequent handling(every 2 or 3 days instead of every day). I also leave them alone if they're obviously in shed, until I'm more familiar with them and they've been fully tamed.

As for the defensive behavior; a defensive snake is under stress so you need to be careful not to stress him too much. Being touched every day might be a bit too much for him to start out. But you should keep picking him up even when he's being defensive, otherwise he'll learn that those behaviors get you to leave him alone. You'll probably get bitten a few times, but it won't hurt at all. Just stay calm and keep working with him gently. My black pine used to like puffing up and hissing at me, so in the later stages of taking her I kept her out in my hands until she calmed down. Her reward for being calm was being put back in her enclosure, and she learned pretty quickly that way.
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