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Potentially Aggressive Female

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  • [Behavior] Potentially Aggressive Female

    I have just purchased a year old female jungle VPI about 8 days ago. All conditions are good, with the exception that the tank she is in is on the small size (she will be moved to a proper sized pvc ASAP). She is about 40" long.

    She was rather calm the first few days I had her, but the past owner rarely handled her due to the fact he had a large number of snakes. As well he kept her enclosure at head level, where as now she is at waist level. I fed her a small frozen rat on Friday, and she took it no problem.

    That being said she is somewhat aggressive (as in striking at the glass). If my hands are in the tank, no problems at all, it's only when i go to put the top back on and there is movement outside the tank. I can walk by the tank and she is fine as well, I do noticed her watching intently more then my other Boa's

    1. Do you see this as being normal?
    2. How much longer should I wait to handle? As I would like to move her to the new enclosure this Wednesday, do you think this is a good idea?
    3. How should I go about handling her, as I'm pretty sure I'm going to get bit. I have two other boas that are extremly tame, and have never struck, so this is new to me.


  • #2
    Re: Potentially Aggressive Female

    I would suggest getting her in her permanent home as quickly as possible. Give her a bit to settle down, then start handling daily (except after feeding or in shed of course) for short periods. Use a hook to rub her before sticking your hand in. This will let her know you are not a threat. Gently pick up the snake and let her crawl freely. You just be like substrate and let her crawl. Don't try to restrain or hold her back as long as she is safe. Sit on the floor and let her crawl over you. Do this in short periods and she will adjust quicker than you think. Most of all be persistent and don't let her scare you off. She will come around.


    • #3
      Re: Potentially Aggressive Female

      Sounds normal to me: You suddenly look taller (more threatening) now, PLUS being in new surroundings...that's enough to make a snake nervous and defensive (not 'aggressive'!). Think of the first few days of "calm" as
      her being slightly in shock (fear) at the new surroundings.

      Since she is not used to being handled, I'd wait until she has fed (& digested) at least 3 meals for you before you stress her with anything more. You don't want to cause any setbacks (like a regurgitation or refusing
      to eat). That may seem like "forever" to you, but it's better for her in the long run...and that's what your focus should be, but she may also be less likely to bite if allowed more time to 'settle in'.

      If you move her to a new cage soon (even though the improved privacy may help her) you should start over & wait until she has fed easily 3 times before you add any handling. Be patient...bites happen when we are
      too pushy...and very seldom when we are patient & pay attention to how the snake is reacting. Bites are NOT inevitable!

      It may help to put a towel over her when you first pick her up & hold her for a while. By restricting her vision, she can focus on the strange feeling of being held (cuddled & gently restrained in the towel). We ARE scary
      to them, we are potential predators about to eat them...and we're BIG! When she learns to relax "under wraps" gradually let her see out from the towel...keep your hands low & under her (not "moving targets")
      and in time she'll learn to accept handling as harmless to her. *Remember that our snakes don't typically recognize us 'visually': a snake striking from inside the glass doesn't recognize you so don't take it personal. They
      learn to recognize us primarily by our scent and how we touch them.* Be patient...


      • #4
        Re: Potentially Aggressive Female

        My little Hog Island hisses a bit at times when I take her out but I stick with it and calmly, quietly handle her. Once out she is great and I have no problems although she can move pretty quickly. She is also a bit picky about the surface that she is on and has a tendency to stick pretty close to me. I'm not sure who is training who but it's a lot of fun. Sunday night, she had her first shed since I got her (I didn't even see that coming - surprised me!) and my daughter and I got to watch her pull the last section off of her tail - we actually cheered!


        • #5
          Re: Potentially Aggressive Female

          Give her time to settle down.

          After a couple of weeks I have started daily handing of my new little girl. She will go in a defensive position when I open the cage and reach towards her, but I just go in there and take her out. Slowly and gently of course. I always pick her up from underneath, kind of like scooping her. Sometimes she seems like she is locking onto my hand but she never bites. She is just nervous when I go in her cage. Once she is out in my hands she is a sweetie.

          My ball pythons were never on the defense like she is, but they are totally different snakes. I guess with my short time of experience I can only suggest to take it slow, and don't be scared of being bit because that will make her nervous and hold both you back in the long run


          • #6
            Re: Potentially Aggressive Female

            I find the ball so much calmer, laid back but she is a bit older and been around/handled by more people - she is a real sweetie. The boa is just going to take time and my patience (which I have a lot of) to get her to this point.


            • #7
              Re: Potentially Aggressive Female

              She may also just be "foody" and not aggressive, especially if she's intent on what is going on outside of her enclosure. Most of my boas will just chill and not move even when the door to the enclosure is opened, though they all get a little rub with the hook if I need to pull them out. One adult male in particular though comes flying up to the front as soon as you reach for the latch on his door. While it's rather intimidating, he's not aggressive, he's just hoping for a rabbit, and a little rub with the hook snaps him out of being foody.


              • #8
                Re: Potentially Aggressive Female

                Thanks for the input. I was going to move her new enclosure tomorrow, but I guess I should wait. I just feel bad her being in a smallish tank. As mentioned she ate on Friday and after being on the warm side a few days she has moved to the cool side, and has been sitting under a plant for the last two days. No striking the glass either, shes watches, but does not move forward. So a good sign I guess.

                The waiting is tough, but I guess she has been handled much up until now, so a few weeks is not going to hurt.


                • #9
                  Re: Potentially Aggressive Female

                  Honestly what I'd do at this point is: as soon as she defecates from her latest meal (assuming she does?) I'd go ahead & move her to the other cage at that time, when you have to clean this one anyway, & you are
                  sure she's no longer digesting. Then give her time to settle in there...etc. As you said, a few weeks won't matter a bit. I hope you're 'running' the new cage make sure on the temperatures? Much easier & safer
                  when it's un-occupied.


                  • #10
                    Re: Potentially Aggressive Female

                    That's what I may end up doing. New cage has been up and running for a few days. Temps are good. I would just feel better waiting with her being more comfortable, and with room for multiple hides, and more room to move around if she feels like it.