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Handling my new RTB

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  • Handling my new RTB

    Hey Guys,

    I just got a new RTB and Ball Python from a friend of a friend that didn't want them anymore.... The BP has a very good temperment....a little jumpy but very nice. This is my first experience with snakes ever. I have been reading about them cause I knew I wanted to get one, but have never really dealt with them. I have had them for a few months now, but haven't gotten to handle the boa much yet. He had mites when I first got him...(didn't know till i got him) that took a few weeks to clear up. He is now 6 1/2 feet, and I can't handle him when I am alone. I don't think he was handled much before I got him and he is very squirmy and just wants to explore......

    I am wondering what is the best way to get him accustomed to being handled....I would like to do this before he gets any bigger.....For instance, how long should I hold him at a time...As of now...if he gets in an uncomfortable position he will liet me know with a little hiss and I put him back. It should be know that I am fairly small....5'2" I feel like he doesn't feel supported enough with me initially. I am trying to get my boyfriend to handle him for a while so he feels comfortable ...please let me know the best way to do this. I figured maybe 30 min every other day....but you guys know better than I do.

    I am also going to build a cage for him....he is in an aquarium right now. Any tips on what material is best, heating, ventilation, and so forth would be very helpful. Also, How much should he be eating right now? He is 6 1/2 feet I think he is about 3 years old......and eating well.......but I don't want him to become overweight.....

    Any suggestions will be very helpful....thanks

  • #2
    Re: Handling my new RTB

    Hello Marly,

    Welcome to the forums..

    First. glad you got the snakes that were not wanted.. its great to see snakes go to a good home..

    Ok first with handleing the snake. I will suggest what I do and it has worked for me. Keep in mind I am not 5'2.. I am 6' 180#'s..

    Most healthy snakes want to explore when you hold them. Although my boa's will just hang out on me, but if I get close to say a hanging light or if I am sitting down with them, they want to explore. It is fully normal and a good sign of a healthy snake. When you are holding them it is important to make them feel secure and they will not fall.. My 7 foot boa used to tighten up abit when I got him until I figured out that he like my arm to put a little pressure on his tail when its running down my side.. Makes him feel safe, now he barley tightens up at all, except when I try to put him back. Just make sure he is supported on both sides of his middle and he should feel safe.

    As for the hissing. Most of the times he is just complaining when he hisses at you. I know some may disagree with this, but any snake that hisses at me is asking to be held and will be held. If you get nrevous ever time he hisses you will basically train him that when he wants down he can hiss and he will be put back in, instead of worked to get used to handling. One thing I will always do until I learn the boa is to make sure his face doesn't get into mine. Heck if your gonna get bit, the face is the last place I would want it. After awhile you will learn what to expect with your snake. One boa I worked with would always get a ripple down its under body before he would try to bite. Not all boas do this, but this one did. Just take it slow and don't be intimidated.. Make sure when you hold him not to hold too tight, that makes snakes nervous like they are in danger. You can hold him every day if you like, it won't hurt him. Try to hold him atleast every other day, for 30-60 mins. More days if you can. Just don't hold him atleast 2 days after he feeds.

    A normal boa that size should eat a large to jumbo rat every 10-12 days. Go by the thickest part of his body and that is the thickness of the prey he should be eating.. Also if he isn't eating fresh killed or frozen thawed, you should try to switch him to that. Live feeding can hurt or kill your snake.. only takes one time for you to wish you had him off live prey.

    And last, about the cage.. If you can try to house him in a wood ot solid plastic cage. Glass can work, but its a pain to keep heated and hard to keep humidity up. Good size cage would be 4 foot long, 2 foot wide, 2 foot high made of plywood, I like Birch finished on both sides. If you can afford a 6 foot long, 3 foot wide, 2 foot high, all the better.
    If you are using wood, try running an under the tank heater and a radiant heat panel on the ceiling of the tank. Heat should be 78 on the cool side, 92 on the hot side with a moderate temp of 85.

    As for humidity 75% is ideal. Try putting the water bowl on the heat to produce humidity. Make sure you get good temp and humidity gauges, not the peel and stick strips.. They don't work well.

    Also include a hide for him. I keep my hides on the cool side.

    I know I left out some things, people will fill them in..

    Great luck with your snakes.
    Steve Clark


    • #3
      Re: Handling my new RTB

      sclark pretty much explained some good points. As far as the handling, you may want to start handling a little bit everyday and move from there. Like sclark stated, hissing is usually just a bluff to scare you and if you leave them alone, they will usually use it all the time. However, it can also be a warning sign. Thirty minutes sounds good. Your best bet would be to build a wood enclosure. Melamine is nice and cheap, but can be extremely heavy. Pine is pretty cheap and works great. Oak is very nice, but can be pretty high. A 4x2x2 is minimum, anything larger would be great. Radiant heat panels are my preference for heating.


      • #4
        Re: Handling my new RTB

        Congrats on your new pets. Steve mentioned the main things you need to know. I do want to reitterate not to handle for a minimum of 24 hours after feeding, preferrably 48 hours. Handling after they eat will cause them to regurgitate and you won't enjoy cleaning it up. It also damages the snakes throat and you won't be able to feed them again for approximately 2 weeks without causing more problems.

        Make sure you keep researching on the net about your snakes to learn as much as possible in order to give them the proper environment.

        Here is a link to Clay's post which contains a lot of usefull information if you haven't already read it.

        And NERD's care sheets on both boas and balls.

        Also a few places to buy frozen rats if they are already eating frozen/thawed or if you intend to switch them.

        Information is power. It changes the way people live and work. Get latest news and useful information.

        Specializing in the production and distribution of premium frozen feeder animals including mice, rats, and more to the reptile and birds of prey community. Free ground shipping on orders totaling $100 or more!

        Good luck to you with your new animals.