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Old 09-07-12, 01:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

This is my first time owning a Ball Python. I had him for about 3 weeks. I only held him maybe twice for only about a minute before I got scared and had to laid him back down in his cage. I don't have a snake phobia or anything and I'm not afraid of snakes. I'm just afraid of getting bit. Some people have said its inevitable to not get bitten when owning a snake. Others have said that they've owned tons of snakes and they were never bitten. I know a snake only bites when threatened. So how do I pick up and hold my snake without him feeling threatened? What scares me the most is when I pick him up and he slithers in my hand then starts to stare at my fingers and gives them the same look he does when its feeding time. I get so nervous my hands start to shaking. Maybe I'm just overacting but I just don't want to get bit.
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Old 09-07-12, 01:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

If you don't wanna get bit, don't handle your snake.

Also:
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" I only held him maybe twice for only about a minute before I got scared and had to laid him back down in his cage. I don't have a snake phobia or anything and I'm not afraid of snakes. I'm just afraid of getting bit"
That my dear is the definition of a snake phobia.
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Old 09-07-12, 01:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

[tries to suppress a grin]

You remind me of my wife (then girlfriend) when she first got introduced to reptiles. She liked snakes, didn't mind handling them.....just was afraid of getting bit. At one show where I was playing "helper" to one of the vendors, I brought her over, picked up a baby ball python that I knew had a bad attitude, and let it bite her. After that she was fine.

Some people disagree, but this is really the approach I often employ when I encounter this problem. Most of the time, the person has this fear, this apprehension of getting bit, almost like getting a shot at the doctor. OMG, it's going to hurt like the dickens, I'm going to bleed all over the place, etc etc. With few exceptions (larger constrictors, arboreal species and the occasional voracious kingsnake), most snake bites are hardly anything to write home about. You have probably had paper cuts that bothered you worse and for longer. The majority of the time, the bite is over before you know it, and you're like, "Oh, that's wasn't terrible."

That said, ball pythons in my experience give pretty good warning before biting. Most of them are docile, and will adopt the rolled-up "ball" position of hiding their head. I have never had one bite from this position. Those that are more acclimated to handling do not ball up at all.

Every once in while, there is a BP that likes to go against the grain and be a pain. They'll adopt the traditional S-shape position of the neck, with their head on the top. They may hiss, and/or inflate/flatten their body a little. The most pissy ones will strike at anything that comes near them. I've never had a BP "surprise" me nad bite me without warning. Not saying its impossible or could never happen; its just never happened to me.

One thing you can do is whenever you open the enclosure, toss a towel over the snake and then scoop it up from underneath.
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Old 09-07-12, 01:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

How large is the snake?

And I have to ask....why on earth did you get this snake if you're scared to handle it?
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Old 09-07-12, 02:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

My recommendation is to get bit. You will feel better afterward, seriously. After you realize tha it is not the end of the world you can enjoy handling your snake. Reminds me of a breeder who handed me a King Rat Snake with the words: "Ah, it just bit me, wanna give it a try?"

Don't worry about it and handle you snake. Chances of getting bit will only diminish over time.
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Old 09-07-12, 02:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

When I field herp, I don't even flinch when I grab snakes. After 20 years of working with animals, I'm so used to getting bit, scratched, sting, or pooped on, that it simply doesn't phase me anymore.

Granted I do feel it, and I may utter a monotone "ow" when a 3-ft water snake tags me on the wrist, but (shrugs and chuckles), its just part of working with any kind of animal; you will get bit from time to time. Its an occupational hazard! Accept it or find another hobby.

And like I said before, and Ketternatter re-iterated, the best way to get over your fear of getting bit is to get bit. That way you'll know what it feels like, and can move on.
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Old 09-07-12, 02:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

If you have a snake an never get bit... its a miracle, or you never hold it.. I'm more worried about the snake. Ive been bitten by most of mine, but i have a couple that have never bitten me. I am not scared of it and its like a pin prick really, until they get bigger, then it hurts a little more but still not bad... I'm more worried im going to hurt the snake with my uncontrolled reaction of jerking my hand back.. Now i have no desire to get bit, but i know its gonna happen. If your that scared then you may not have wanted to get a snake... The more you handle them, the more accustomed they become to being handled (in no way do they enjoy it, its purely for your enjoyment) and picked up and maybe even your sent as not being food.. Im not highly experienced, but have 8 snakes because i love them... Just my 2 cents.
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Old 09-07-12, 03:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

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Originally Posted by StudentoReptile View Post
How large is the snake?

And I have to ask....why on earth did you get this snake if you're scared to handle it?
The snake is about 4 months old the breeder said. I would guess about 1 1/2 feet long. Would age play a role in his willingness to bite?
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Old 09-07-12, 03:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

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The snake is about 4 months old the breeder said. I would guess about 1 1/2 feet long. Would age play a role in his willingness to bite?
Not necessarily. A lot factors can come into play (species, individual personality, environment, etc.), but a lot of snakes in general are more nervous and highstrung as babies and tend to mellow out as they mature.

I'm not saying that every baby ball python is going to be a little terror. I'm only saying that of all the "bitey" ball pythons I've encountered, most of them were on the younger side.

But I maintain that ball pythons as a whole are generally docile and reluctant to bite...but there are no guarantees. As I have told countless children (and adults), anything with a mouth can bite, but it doesn't mean it will.
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Old 09-07-12, 03:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

A 4-month old ball python? You would barely feel the bite.

Use gentle, firm movements when handling your BP. Be confident.
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Old 09-07-12, 03:18 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

Ball python babies are WAY more apt to bite than a yearling and older. When I walk by my baby racks, all I hear is their stupid little faces bouncing off the front of their bins trying to bite me.
Stupid little creatures...
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Old 09-12-12, 08:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

Most of this has been covered already but yeh the younger hatchlings tend to be more bitey than the yearling or older. As they get older and accustomed to being handled they usually calm down. I have 4 Ball Pythons in my house and the only one who has any issue with striking was severely mistreated by his previous owner. With time to destress and short handlings he is becoming much better. Also proper care and husbandry has calmed him down lots too . Your snake can sense your nerves , so the same advice I give my son when he handles his (which is the aggresive one) own him, pick him up with confidence. Let him know you are there , and then slide your hands under his belly about mid way and pick him up . When you are confident your snake will relax more and faster when being handled . Every one of my snakes once relaxed will allow me to stroke their heads . Even the Burm I had would let me stroke his head . I was much the same as you when I got my first one, and now I do not worry about being bitten. If it happens then so be it, but it has not happened yet ,even my sons biter has not tried to bite me.
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Old 09-12-12, 08:49 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

LOL, it's like riding a roller coaster for the first time, your terrified at first but then you realize, "it's not that bad". You get bit owning a snake, it happens, but there are things you can do to prevent it, for one, make sure the snake isn't hungry. two: pick him up with confidence, snakes can read your body language and if you have a reason to be nervous, so do they. Just reach in and pick him up without being afraid of getting bit, and if you do get bit, I promise you'll be around to tell about it. I agree with "kettennater" getting bit is the only way to loose your fear of the NOT SO HORRIFIC AND TOTALY PAINFUL bite lol, (it's really not that terrible with BP,S) now if you had a giant, I could understand being afraid, I would not want to get bit by a burmeese or a retic but you have a ball, you'll survive the nip, trust me lol
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Old 09-12-12, 08:57 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

Quote:
Originally Posted by StudentoReptile View Post
[tries to suppress a grin]

(larger constrictors, arboreal species and the occasional voracious kingsnake)
haha I have kings now, my big male California king is known to bite with a purpose, but unless he feels like holding on it's more of a " god D*****" he got me again!" lol when he feels like holding on it stings for the first minute or two but he eventually gets bored and let's go, then he goes back into his tub....
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Old 09-12-12, 09:05 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: How can you tell when a Ball Python is going to bite?

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Originally Posted by StudentoReptile View Post
When I field herp, I don't even flinch when I grab snakes. After 20 years of working with animals, I'm so used to getting bit, scratched, sting, or pooped on, that it simply doesn't phase me anymore.

Granted I do feel it, and I may utter a monotone "ow" when a 3-ft water snake tags me on the wrist, but (shrugs and chuckles), its just part of working with any kind of animal; you will get bit from time to time. Its an occupational hazard! Accept it or find another hobby.

And like I said before, and Ketternatter re-iterated, the best way to get over your fear of getting bit is to get bit. That way you'll know what it feels like, and can move on.
Lol! Can't tell you how many pissy kings have "musked" me while trying to get a decent picture while field herping! A few I'll tempered coach whips have tagged me as well. You gotta love a pissed off racer haha
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