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  • [Handling] Hook Training for Boas?

    First off, let me just say that I am new here, I've been "slithering" around reading some posts and finally felt like making a thread of my own.

    I bought my first boa back in early October, a very nice normal Colombian BCI. Very sweet animal, great temperament and JUST ATE HER FIRST FROZEN/THAWED RAT PUP!

    Anyway, I'm wondering how many of you hook train your boas? I've been feeding inside the tank because it's been too cold in my apartment to feed outside of it, however I do have a "ritual" that I go through with her before feeding. I first pick her up, then I remove tank furniture and put down a paper towel, then I place her back in on top of the paper towel and offer the food item with tongs. This seems to be working great, I've never had any problem getting her out on a non-feeding day, in fact I've never seen any aggression ever.

    So my question would be, do you still think it's necessary to hook train for when she gets bigger or do I simply keep up with the way I've been doing things?

    Also pics related, it's Atlas:




  • #2
    Re: Hook Training for Boas?

    First and foremost, Welcome to our crazy little RTB family!

    If you haven't yet, dowload the Ultimate Care Gude! It's a great tool.

    I wouldn't use paper towels. EVER! We had a member whos boa swallowed one once. Thankfully, he regurged it and lived through it, but I wouldn't take that chance. I feed right on my aspen in the cage. (I use finely shredded)

    As for the hook training, I really have never used my hook with my boa. I only have it because I have a cantankerous rat snake. At most, a hook should only be used to push your boa's head back from the door. Lifting a full grown boa with a hook can injure the snake.

    Great looking little guy, BTW!


    -Sean in NoCal
    “Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood – the virtues that made America.”
    -Teddy Roosevelt.

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    • #3
      Re: Hook Training for Boas?

      Welcome to the forum.

      I don't know anyone who hook trains a boa, that is mostly used with giant pythons which have a much more intense feeding response and I would think are more territorial. Many adult boas will actually develop a less aggressive feeding response and you can help this along by training the snake to eat the food from the bottom of the cage rather than taking it from the tongs.

      As long as you are not smelling of rats when you handle then you are most likely going to avoid a feeding response bite which is the whole point of hook training.

      Since the feeding response is much more subdued in boas and hook training does nothing to stop defensive strikes I don't think it is necessary at all. I simply do all my feeding prep for the snakes cages before I ever touch the rats. Paper towel is not a good thing to feed on, it can be swallowed and kill the boa. News paper is safer but you should still closely monitor them in case of an issue.

      Mat.

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      • #4
        Re: Hook Training for Boas?

        Originally posted by Pandorasdad View Post
        I feed right on my aspen in the cage. (I use finely shredded)
        I use "coco-husk" myself, it's in chips, my reason for putting down a paper towel was out of fear that she may accidentally swallow a piece of substrate. Has anyone ever heard of that happening?

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        • #5
          Re: Hook Training for Boas?

          Originally posted by Pandorasdad View Post
          First and foremost, Welcome to our crazy little RTB family!

          If you haven't yet, dowload the Ultimate Care Gude! It's a great tool.

          I wouldn't use paper towels. EVER! We had a member whos boa swallowed one once. Thankfully, he regurged it and lived through it, but I wouldn't take that chance. I feed right on my aspen in the cage. (I use finely shredded)

          As for the hook training, I really have never used my hook with my boa. I only have it because I have a cantankerous rat snake. At most, a hook should only be used to push your boa's head back from the door. Lifting a full grown boa with a hook can injure the snake.

          Great looking little guy, BTW!
          LOL We must have been typing at the same time. By hook training I don't think the poster was referring to lifting the animal with the hook, just simply tapping the snake on the head or neck etc. to let the snake know it is not feeding time. It's a python technique that teaches the snake to cool it's feeding response down when it sees/feels the hook.

          Mat.

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          • #6
            Re: Hook Training for Boas?

            Originally posted by Psycl0n_B View Post
            I use "coco-husk" myself, it's in chips, my reason for putting down a paper towel was out of fear that she may accidentally swallow a piece of substrate. Has anyone ever heard of that happening?
            It absolutely happens, a member here recently had a scare with a piece of bark being swallowed by one of his snakes. The animal was fine in the long run but it can be fatal. I use news paper over the Aspen and bark type substrates just to be safe.

            Mat.

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            • #7
              Re: Hook Training for Boas?

              Originally posted by Psycl0n_B

              I use "coco-husk" myself, it's in chips, my reason for putting down a paper towel was out of fear that she may accidentally swallow a piece of substrate. Has anyone ever heard of that happening?
              Chris and Mat covered your initial question thoroughly, so I'll take this one

              Yes, it can and DOES happen. It can cause bowel obstructions and even punctured bowels. So feeding ON something is important. Newspaper is fine. You could also place the lid of a large Tupperware container down.

              And welcome!


              Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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              • #8
                Re: Hook Training for Boas?

                Thanks for the advice everyone, and yes I was referring to the tapping on the head with a hook. I'd never considered hook training for a boa until I read a post or two with some people talking about it, glad to hear it's unnecessary.

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                • #9
                  Re: Hook Training for Boas?

                  I agree with everybody else. The reason i feed outside the tank is due to injestion! I use Cypress Mulch so I don't want to risk them taking it in, and i'd be even more scared using paper towels. Maybe try a seperate bin with some heat tape on it if you're absolutely worried?

                  Whether or not you feed in the tank, both methods are acceptable. You just have to find what's right for you AND your baby.

                  Just remember, even if you do feed in the tank a snake is still a snake...even if they aren't hungry, they could strike because they don't know what's coming at them. Giving the snake some warning before you go for it, is ALWAYS helpful. Whether its feeding forceps or a hook.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Hook Training for Boas?

                    Well actually, I do also own a Ball Python. I had him for almost a year before I decided to graduate to a Boa, so I'm pretty familiar with snake body language and all (which was the goal of starting with a Ball). Personally I feel that the Ball python is a lot more skiddish when it comes to taking him out for handling, the Boa is always very calm and loves to come out, she's not even head-shy (Not that I approach her from the front of course, docile snake or not that's always a mistake).

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                    • #11
                      Re: Hook Training for Boas?

                      I have heard to take the hook and rub the boa on the top of the head before going to pick them up. I have heard when doing this over and over again, they will know that it is not feeding time and you are going to remve them to hold. Do not use the hook to pick up the snake. Only to let them know you are coming in.

                      Now I do this only I use the palm of my hand and not a hook and I slightly rub the back of the head towards the neck. I have never been bit yet. Good luck at what ever you do and also know when you boa is in shed or hungry. Just be consistent like what you have to do with kids. lol

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                      • #12
                        Re: Hook Training for Boas?

                        I personally do it with all my snakes except ball pythons. I don't just tap them on the head I use the hook to control where there head is while getting them out of the cage. I have some pretty big girls and a couple boys that don't like being pulled out.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Hook Training for Boas?

                          Originally posted by Psycl0n_B View Post
                          Well actually, I do also own a Ball Python. I had him for almost a year before I decided to graduate to a Boa, so I'm pretty familiar with snake body language and all (which was the goal of starting with a Ball). Personally I feel that the Ball python is a lot more skiddish when it comes to taking him out for handling, the Boa is always very calm and loves to come out, she's not even head-shy (Not that I approach her from the front of course, docile snake or not that's always a mistake).
                          It's differant ball to ball sometimes. Malakai, my ball, is just the most laid back, easy going snake, and just lays there no matter whats coming for him. I never give him warning, because I never feel the need to. XD But I know some day he could get spooked and strike because, again, he is still a snake with snakey snake instincts.

                          My Peruvian is high strung...doesn't like her head touched period but is getting better, My Guyana is chill (but stresses easily as he is still a noodle), and my Harley the ideal handler snake. All boas i find are differant.

                          It's aweome that your boa isn't even head shy! Probably because you are such a cautious, gentle handler. Temperment...It's all in the owner (sometimes instincts...but about 90% owner XD.). Maybe my Peruvian Sybil will calm down someday.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Hook Training for Boas?

                            i think you should find a way to feed your snake that you BOTH feel comfortable with, and stick with it. your snake will learn the routine and know what to expect. i personally feed most of my boas out of their cages, and my pythons in their cages. my boas seem to exhibit some type of cage aggression when they have been fed in their cages so we just feed them out and now we have no aggression whatsoever. we have strayed from their routine a few times, and they were totally confused. some even refused their food, which is not typical of them. everyone has their own ways of feeding their snakes, we have tried different things and we found a routine that works best for us.

                            that being said, i will never feed on any kind of paper, or towels either, they can get stuck in teeth and be swallowed, they can get stuck to a wet rat and get swallowed, or somehow get struck at and swallowed by the snake. if you wanna feed in their cage, feed on something they cannot swallow. with my snakes that i feed in their cages, i use extra plastic bin lids, throw a rat on there, slide it in the cage, and shut the door. some people use dinner plates, or whatever else is handy, as long as it cant be swallowed

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                            • #15
                              Re: Hook Training for Boas?

                              Originally posted by satyra View Post
                              i use extra plastic bin lids, throw a rat on there, slide it in the cage, and shut the door. some people use dinner plates, or whatever else is handy, as long as it cant be swallowed
                              Atlas just graduated to frozen/thawed this last monday, I've yet to see if he'd take a rat that was just laying there, for now I'm still doing the "tong dance". His feeding response is quite vicious, he accidentally struck the tongs on that first frozen rat pup. Anyway, one step at a time, perhaps I'll try just "throwing one in there" next time ;P

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