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Old 11-07-17, 07:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Aggressive/Scared King Snake

Hello folks!
I am a newb!
But my florida king snake is about 6 years old as of lately he seems scared.
If I change his water bowl ( I am gentle and try to avoid making noise) he rattles his tail. When I do take him out he seems to be unsure or very curious he has bitten me and my bf and didnt let go. It was as if he was determined to get a chunk.

I have tried sitting near his tank so he can smell me before I handle him. I just think I am a bit scared to scare him and of getting bitten.

I do not want to give him away, I want my snake back!

Tips?

Dont be mean or a troll.
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Old 11-08-17, 10:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Aggressive/Scared King Snake

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Originally Posted by zombiegurl3 View Post
Hello folks!
I am a newb!
But my florida king snake is about 6 years old as of lately he seems scared.
If I change his water bowl ( I am gentle and try to avoid making noise) he rattles his tail. When I do take him out he seems to be unsure or very curious he has bitten me and my bf and didnt let go. It was as if he was determined to get a chunk.

I have tried sitting near his tank so he can smell me before I handle him. I just think I am a bit scared to scare him and of getting bitten.

I do not want to give him away, I want my snake back!

Tips?


Dont be mean or a troll.
Hello Zombiegurl,

Before I can properly respond I need to ask some questions, then I can help you out. What are the temperatures on the hotspot, warm side, and cold side? Night time? What is the size of his enclosure? How often, and what are you feeding him? How often are you handling him? Is he in a new enclosure? Is there anything new in the room you keep him? Loud noises? I apologize if this is a lot, please respond to these so I can help you out, I hope we can find a peaceful solution to your snake.

Hope this helps,
-DJC Reptiles

Last edited by DJC Reptiles; 11-08-17 at 10:39 AM..
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Old 11-10-17, 05:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Aggressive/Scared King Snake

Is this a snake you've had for a long time or is he fairly new to you? Do you know if he's captive bred or wild caught? Is there another, new pet in the house?

Yeah, there are lots of questions because there are lots of potential causes.

Sometimes it's just as simple as not washing your hands before handling and they catch the smell of food / other pets / whatever on your hands. If you smell like food... chomp!

Once you've been bitten for the first time you tend to get a little gunshy around the snake and move hesitantly around it. Rather than confidently picking the snake up or matter-of-factly scooping poo you kind of creep, trying not to freak it out. This behavior actually makes the snake feel suspicious of your intentions, because predators creep. If you handle it gingerly it's afraid it might be dropped. Try to be straightforward and confident in your interactions with your guy (in other words, fake it 'til you make it).

I suggest using a snake hook to pick up your snake, then transferring him to your hands. A hook is less threatening than a hand and if that gets bitten there's no harm done. Once out of the cage most tame snakes are fine. But sometimes you reach your hand in and they're asleep, cranky, hungry, etc. This is why I now usually hook even my gentlest snakes.

If you are bitten don't try to pull away or yank the snake off you. You're likely to hurt his mouth and tear your skin or get a tooth embedded in the bite. Just wait for him to let go. He will, even if it takes a while. Then wash the bite, check for teeth in the wound (tweezers will remove those) and put some antiseptic on it. Good as new.

The first time I got bitten it took a while to gain confidence back. Of course, now I've been bitten so many times that unless I'm profusely bleeding it barely even registers anymore.
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Old 11-10-17, 06:43 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Aggressive/Scared King Snake

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Originally Posted by SerpentineDream View Post
Of course, now I've been bitten so many times that unless I'm profusely bleeding it barely even registers anymore.
Exactly! But seriously though, we do need you to answer these questions, I apologize for the inconvenience. If you don't know, you can use a temperature gun to check the temperature reliably. I agree with SerpentineDream, if your snake is biting your hand he probably thinks it is food, using a snake hook can help him understand it's not feeding time. But there could also be a number of reasons why he's acting this way, so we want to help you find a solution.
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Old 11-13-17, 06:12 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Aggressive/Scared King Snake

My 3 year old has always been very flighty and cage defensive and I've found that a snake hook helped so incredibly much. I stopped getting musked and taking her out wasn't as stressful for her. I still only handle her maybe once a month or every other month because she freaks so much over it, but the hook really helps. Having more info will help everyone figure out how best to help you though, the snake hook might not be the only answer
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Old 11-13-17, 01:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Aggressive/Scared King Snake

It very much depends on the nature of the bite as to whether it's a feeding type response or a defensive bite. If the snake is 'tagging' you - biting your hand then recoiling back - then it is likely a defensive action.

If it is striking you, biting and holding on for a length of time (anything more than a couple of seconds) it is more likely a feeding response.

I find my snakes rarely think my hand is food if there is none around and I have not been handling any and a few of them will strike defensively.

My advice would simply be not to handle the snake much and when you do - calm deliberate movements. Be prepared to be struck a few times also, a king really isn't going to hurt a great deal.
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Old 11-13-17, 05:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Aggressive/Scared King Snake

I have several Kings and some of the juveniles can be defensive but most of my adults aren't.

That being said, however, my Brown/White CA Striped King has this bad habit of slithering up and clamping down on my fingers, for just a second mind you, but it draws blood and leaves teeth marks for a few days. No strike, just a calm slither towards your hand, it opens its mouth, and then clamps down /bites and retreats. It's like a dog that bites and tests its bite, like a puppy does, to see how hard it can bite. I felt the pressure that last time, and it was like it was putting pressure on the jaws, just enough, to make sure it drew blood.

He's done this twice to two different fingers. Rather annoying, yet funny in its own way. I just laugh every time I think about it.

Oh, and it doesn't really hurt--it's just a few pin pricks and the trauma is over, except for the welling of blood...
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Old 11-14-17, 08:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Aggressive/Scared King Snake

Hello!

I have a red basking light bulb for him, a heating pad and a deep water bowl for him to swim or drink from. I use my shirts as of recently so he can smell me and he also has his usual bedding.

I use to be able to move things in his tank and he would be fine. I take him out by using a little stick, I will invest in a hook after reading your replies. I have gloves I use on one hand. before I take him out, I open the tank and stand near it so he can smell me. So far I take him out and let him crawl on my bed and on my arms but I wont lie, I am still scared!

He has a cool side where his water is and a warm side where I have a little hut for him which is supported by a heating pad.

He just shed last night, and I will feed him this Saturday, usually two fuzzies.
I think its a defense but when he bit my boyfriend ( who he knows) he tried to wrap his little rump around his wrist ( clearly he was hungry so we fed him).

When he bites we don't pull him off, we wait for him to process his actions, however long in snake time that is which is a few minutes.

I hope I have provided some information...that can help.
I do not want to give up on this snake. I know I need to toughen up but I will slowly roll up my sleeve and I will wash my hands as well.
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Old 11-14-17, 08:15 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Aggressive/Scared King Snake

I have had Beautiful Thomas ( my snake) for almost six years!
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Old 11-15-17, 09:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Aggressive/Scared King Snake

First thoughts....

Do you know what the temperatures are on both the warm and cool side of the cage? If the snake is too hot or too cold that can lead to unusual behavior. An uncomfortable snake is an unhappy snake. Do you have thermometers or a heat gun to monitor temps and a thermostat to control them and keep them consistent? Do you have a hygrometer to monitor humidity? If so, what is that reading? How large is the cage?

A hide on both sides of the cage is highly recommended so that your snake doesn't have to choose between thermoregulation and security. Sometimes they'll stay in a part of the cage that is uncomfortable just because they have a safe hiding place there.

Snakes will often bite if handled while in shed, especially if their eyes are cloudy and they can't see well. Best to leave him alone during that time.

And here's what I (preliminarily) think happened with your snake: He's hungry. He's really hungry. 1) He bit and held on. He also wrapped. That sounds like a feeding response, not a defensive "tag" and release. 2) Fuzzy mice are waaaaay too small for an adult Florida king snake. By this age I would expect he should be eating a medium adult mouse once a week to 10 days depending on size and activity level. A couple of fuzzies don't do much except take the edge off his hunger and keep him alive. Another problem with baby mice is that they are high in fat and low in essential nutrients like calcium because they don't yet have solidly formed bones. Pinkies and fuzzies are pretty much little bags of milk and organs. This goes for rats too, though fuzzy rats are substantially larger. How often do you offer food, and are these mouse or rat fuzzies?

I would start by increasing the size and maturity of his prey. But first, how big is he? How long, and most importantly how big around is he? Can you link us to recent photos of him? You can post pics after 5 posts here. Until then we can follow links. If he's been fed fuzzy mice for 6 years his growth is probably stunted so he may not be able to handle a medium adult mouse but we can't determine that for certain without being able to accurately assess his size, both length and girth.

I honestly don't think this is a behavioral issue. I think he's hungry (and was probably in shed when you handled him). If you can verify his temps and how they are monitored / controlled that will be helpful, so please do. But right off the bat I would say add a hiding place to his cool side and reevaluate what he is being fed. You'll probably have a whole new snake.
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Last edited by SerpentineDream; 11-15-17 at 10:08 PM..
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