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Old 06-09-04, 07:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation Can you really tell what your snake is "thinking"

This started in a couple other threads, and I thought it may deserve it's own thread.

Could you please check out these posts: ( I've taken the relevent posts from the original thread, to make it easier for people to check out )

Quote:
Originally posted by kidchameleon
i read that corns are good swimmers. is this true? if so, would it be good to let it swim in a bathtub for a little exercise? thanks
Quote:
Originally posted by Jeff_Favelle
Yeah, they can swim, but I highly doubt its going to WANT to go for a cruise around your tub. They don't swim to relax like we do, LOL! They CAN swim out of necessity, but its not going to do the backstroke to work out the kinks of the day.

Stop thinking like a human. THINK like a snake. What does a snake like to do all day? Those are the questions you should be asking yourself. Not whether or not your corn should be doing laps in your bathtub.
Quote:
Originally posted by Vanan
As much as I have to agree with Jeff about snakes "enjoying" laps in the tub, I DO have to add that it isn't harmful to occasionally do so, as a form of exercise. Unless of course, you can provide adequate space to roam, and branches to climb to keep it "toned". On the contrary, I have noticed that there are some snake species which can't swim as well and have even heard of them drowning. Had a friend who had a blood python drown in it's water dish. Most adult colubrids do fine.
Quote:
Originally posted by gonesnakee
Its exercise & isn't harmful. Must be monitored the whole time & water temp is extremely important. Know the temp of the water FOR SURE! 80-85 f is not very warm & people KILL snakes by leaving them unattended in too warm of water. If the water is too hot even by just a few degrees your snake can go into shock & die. I know a few "newbies" that have killed snakes this way. Whats a nice temp for you is usually far too warm for them. Also if using a bathtub make sure that there is ZERO residue from products such as soaps, shampoos & especially bathroom cleaners. Phenols are a DEATH SENTENCE to reptiles. If I haven't scared ya out of the idea, I hope you & your snake have fun in the tub, but play safe. Mark
Quote:
Originally posted by ChristinaM
I don't know bout my corn, but my BRB sure enjoys the kiddie pool. My corn enjoys soaking in the water bowl tho.

Personally, for whatever it's worth, I think having the snake out in the tub, or wherever, is a good idea. I don't think in the wild they would stay put in a 2ft by 2ft area ( or whatever tank dimensions ).

I can see bonus's to it as well.....helping with shedding, the snake having a drink, exercise, etc.

Mark posted all the cautions, and my 2 cents are, try it.....you'll know if s/he doesn't like it
Quote:
Originally posted by Jeff_Favelle
Quote:
Mark posted all the cautions, and my 2 cents are, try it.....you'll know if s/he doesn't like it
Will you? 100% of the time? Or only if the snake REALLY doesn't like it? Just curious.
Quote:
Originally posted by ChristinaM
Quote:
Originally posted by Jeff_Favelle
[B]Will you? 100% of the time? Or only if the snake REALLY doesn't like it? Just curious.
excellent point. One needing some definate thought, perhaps friendly debate

I could be very wrong, will admit that upfront....I've not studied/read extensively about snakes in their natural habitat, so basing this on personal opinion only.

Once a person gets to know their snake, they should be able to read it fairly accurately.....

knowing that all curled up, hissing, and wide open mouth show the snake would like to bite your head off, wants to be alone, whatever....it's an aggressive symbol, I think we can all agree on that one.

Watching the tongue flicks, the length of time the tongue is extended, how frequently, etc....can also show how your snake is feeling at that time.......

Yes I think like a human.
I do not know how to think like a snake.
The only thought I can be certain of is that a captive snake definately would not be as happy in an enclosure as it would in the wild.

I found a link a while back, discussing snake behaviours, etc. That's where I pulled some info, the rest I came to my conclusions on my own after spending time with my snakes.

I guess, my answer to your question above:

100 % of the time, no, I don't think anyone is that good at reading snakes.

Will you only know if it REALLY does not like it? No I don't believe so if you know your snake and can follow its cue's of body language, etc. I believe you can tell the diffrence between natural curiousity, and "enjoyment".

take it for what it is worth. I definately think this topic needs a thread of its own as it is a very intriguing subject. One I for one, am definately interested in hearing views from others on.
So, input folks, what do you think?????
I would love to see a nice friendly debate, maybe we ALL can learn something.

Cheers.
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Old 06-09-04, 08:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think you just have to read body language.

If you put a snake in a tub of water and it starts whipping around, then obviously it "hates" where it is and it's freaking out!

Now on the other hand if you have say a garter snake (or one that eats fish. If you place your feeder fish in the tub (Providing no way for THEM to escape) and something for your snake to hang off of, it might provide YOU with some entertainment and the snake with some major hunting time.

Example: my blood python

At the store when I first got him out he was fine, tounge flickering, breathing normal..etc...etc..

all of a sudden he stuck his tounge out, curled it up (towards his nose), and puffed up as big as possible! He brought his tounge back in, deflated himself, and started all over! I took this as a "warning" sign that he wanted to be put down.

Now I have NEVER seen a snake do this. And I only ASSUMED that he was angry, and about rady to strike, or something severly wrong with him. Considering that he was JUST FINE, like 2 seconds before hand, I took it he was fairly upset and wanted to just be left alone.


If your really good with your snakes, or have been with particuler snakes for a while, you might even be able to get "vibes" off of them on what their "mood" is like.
JMO only!

I would love to hear what others think!
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Old 06-09-04, 08:21 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Well... personally I believe the evidence which suggests that they're instinctive animals and have a *bit* of an issue with the idea that a snake thinks or feels in the context that WE use the word... Stimulus prompts response, response is instinctual and genetic... But that's as much of that debate as I'm going to put here on this thread and this topic unless someone wants to hear more... It's simply important to have a brief disclaimer.

There is a degree to which someone experienced with animals can "read" them and understand the likely response. Body language, the way muscles tense or relax, vocalizations, activity that's not normal... All are extremely valuable and can be used to deduce what state an animal is in and what their next likely behavior will be given continued application of identical stimulus... But that only goes so far. It's important to avoid anthropomorphism if you want a really clear idea of reptile behavior but that doesn't mean a human is totally incapable of understanding what's going on in that little greasy smear our favorite animals have for a brain. They are alien to our experience in many respects though, we can sympathize but not empathize with the fashion in which neurons fire off and behaviors are determined, this means that we can't know exactly what they might be thinking at all times, we can at best hazard an educated guess when the behaviors make it more obvious. Not many will argue that a snake which starts wildly thrashing, deficates and tries to swarm up the side of the tub is trying to be anyplace but where it is... How about one that doesn't actively swim but simply moves as much of the body out of the water as possible... or "treads" water in place... or sinks to the bottom and blows bubbles out it's nose? I know I can't determine exactly what's going on inside their head when the placement is forced to start and I'd like to think I've got a pretty good grasp of the more obvious body language.
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Old 06-09-04, 09:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by M_surinamensis
Well... personally I believe the evidence which suggests that they're instinctive animals and have a *bit* of an issue with the idea that a snake thinks or feels in the context that WE use the word... Stimulus prompts response, response is instinctual and genetic... But that's as much of that debate as I'm going to put here on this thread and this topic unless someone wants to hear more... It's simply important to have a brief disclaimer.

Seamus, Personally I've always found your thoughts to be intruiging....have even learned some from your post. I would definately be interested in hearing more from you.

Perhaps I cannot think "snakelike" enough, and keep thinking as humans do. But I can't believe that the only things that "feel" are instinct and genetic.

I look at my snakes. Open the rubbermaid, and one, the snake I've had the longest, will "tell" me. She will occassionally come out of her hide and onto my hand OR she stays in her hide. I take this as her showing me she does or does not want to come out.

In the above case, would instinct not tell the snake to hide away?

Or, am I reading too much into her actions?
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Old 06-09-04, 10:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Well, similar discussions have been had on other threads on this site and while everyone remains civil I don't think there will be any resolution to the debate...

Anyway, first thing that's important is to realize that instincts aren't always simple things. We speak about them in really basic terms at times, but they can and do change depending on the condition of the animal, it's general health, age, gender and to some small degree (for snakes) constant repetition of certain stimulus... So... a well fed snake won't always react in an identical way as one that's hungry, warmer or cooler, night or day even gender can sometimes prompt different responses... It's also very difficult to apply totally identical situations more than once which is part of the reason we see behavioral deviations.

Now... depending on just which camps you choose to believe, snakes do have certain basic emotions- all animals do, but many of these emotions are just additional behavioral triggers... Snakes CAN feel pain, or fear and the abscence of pain and fear can be called contentment if not happiness, but there are questions which haven't been nailed down too firmly. Like... When a snake hides from a potential predator, is there any understanding behind the action or is it pure reflex?

My personal views place it just slightly more moderate than "pure reflex" and lean away from complex understanding. When confronted by something frightening, a human can conceptualize the danger, understand the potentials both positive and negative and that can either increase the emotions or be used to behave in a manner which counteracts them. A combination of my own experience and the studies conducted by others which I choose to believe tend to impress upon me that snakes don't have that capability. They react as instincts dictate, always and without fail.

So for us emotions are abstracts (Or, in the case of guys like myself, they are so abstract as to be almost nonexistant) they are more than simply a physical sensation, although there is that component as well. For reptiles they're more a survival trait... When something causes pain, escape it. When something triggers fear, hide from it or respond with agression. If the strategy is successful, the stimulus won't be there anymore and the behavior will return to a more relaxed state. If it doesn't, then the animal probably won't be passing on it's genes (including those which dictate instinctive behaviors).

Even though I have chosen a stance which I believe is correct, I can't prove it beyond ALL reasonable doubt. Nobody can, proving a negative (like the abscence of advanced thought) is difficult to the point of impossibility.

So with regards to your snake remaining inside or exiting it's hide when you enter the enclosure my stance is that the animal is simply reacting to subtly different stimulus, which prompt the changes in behavior. "Want" as a desire of something not immediate and concrete doesn't happen. This doesn't mean that your observations are without value, or even that I think they're entirely wrong... just that mine are slightly different and right. I'm not sure entirely how to word that in order to express the idea that my thoughts on the matter differ from yours and that I don't entirely agree with you but I'm not certain enough to start calling you incorrect.

Plus, look at it this way... You do know your animal. You know how it responds to assorted common stimulus and that makes you an excellent keeper because you can identify and analyze behavioral deviations very quickly and easily. In this respect putting our animals into human terms has an upshoot- just don't take it too far or you end up being one of those lunatics who starts rambling about how your snake only eats mice if you name the mice roger before feeding them off and enjoys those walks you take with her wrapped around your neck at the local mall because they "Love the attention"
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Old 06-09-04, 10:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Well... personally I believe the evidence which suggests that they're instinctive animals and have a *bit* of an issue with the idea that a snake thinks or feels in the context that WE use the word... Stimulus prompts response, response is instinctual and genetic...
Sums it all up in one little sentence as far as I'm concerned. They are not dogs. Nor are they people. I don't think we chould put characteristics that WE have on to our pet reptiles. The mechanisms simply aren't there.
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Old 06-09-04, 11:23 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by M_surinamensis


So with regards to your snake remaining inside or exiting it's hide when you enter the enclosure my stance is that the animal is simply reacting to subtly different stimulus, which prompt the changes in behavior. "Want" as a desire of something not immediate and concrete doesn't happen. This doesn't mean that your observations are without value, or even that I think they're entirely wrong... just that mine are slightly different and right. I'm not sure entirely how to word that in order to express the idea that my thoughts on the matter differ from yours and that I don't entirely agree with you but I'm not certain enough to start calling you incorrect.


Ok, I'm definately finding it hard to put the right words in. This is indeed a complex, fascinating issue....as you've said, one that I doubt people on either side will agree upon.

Perhaps in my example, want as a desire, would not be an accurate. ( as in I want a brand new ford explorer.....that is a desire ) But more of a want ummm, just because? I guess that would make it a reaction, possibly instinct as the snake knows I am not the enemy, and "chooses" to let me handle her voluntarily, or show me she's not interested. Does that make sense as an explanation of my thoughts? ( not as a do you agree with it ).

I definately understand your view. Not nessecarily agree or disagree, because I have not in fact explored this topic until now, and cannot in all fairness make an educated view to agree/disagree. I am definately "hooked" on exploring this until I can base my own view on facts. Not just what I think.

Quote:
Plus, look at it this way... You do know your animal. You know how it responds to assorted common stimulus and that makes you an excellent keeper because you can identify and analyze behavioral deviations very quickly and easily. In this respect putting our animals into human terms has an upshoot- just don't take it too far or you end up being one of those lunatics who starts rambling about how your snake only eats mice if you name the mice roger before feeding them off and enjoys those walks you take with her wrapped around your neck at the local mall because they "Love the attention"
LMAO. My rats are named "Food" "Food" and more food.
aye, I do understand what you are saying. In past conversations at the local store, I know of a customer with a snake who will only eat gerbils. I can't help but think that if that snake was hungry enough, instinct would tell it to eat whatever or die. Am I wrong in that thought? ( aside from possible illness or whatever, which can't be the case as this snake is fine, other than only eating gerbils ).

Personally, I let my snakes decide when enough is enough as far as handling goes. I know them well enough to know when they are tired of the contact and wanting it to stop. Ok, there it is again. I believe they can "want" something......I don't know that I'd go as far as saying they want to be handled....but, I can tell when my snake "wants" to not be handled, or is tired of it.

hmmmmmm. definate brain food ( for me )
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