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  • [General Care] I've been warned

    Let you tell me my story... Two nights ago I was cleaning my boas cage... When she makes a mess, I sterilize the entire cage, and she gets a bath. Now I've had her a very long time, so she knows the drill. She weighed in at 48 lbs before I put her in the tub (just to give you an idea of why this got my attention lol)... She absolutely hates the tub, but she tolerates it... Kinda... She's a total sweetheart, never snapped or bitten at anyone.

    I am always extremely delicate and deliberate when handling snakes. If you are reading this, you know why. But on this night I had to wrangle her back into the tub a few times, and she was getting really squirmy. As she was getting a little fired up I decided to grab her about a foot below the head. She very casually and deliberately opened her mouth and moved it right over to my hand that was holding her below the head... When she got a few inches from my wrist, she stopped and looked back at me, right in the eyes. I got the feeling she was thinking "Seriously dude... Don't make me mess you up man... I'd prefer not to do this"... I casually let go, and then she casually closed her mouth.

    I am well aware that with most snakes you don't want to train them to show aggression by letting them have their way... But as the scenarios ran through my head in that split second I decided that "taking the hit" under those circumstances would have been a poor choice for both of us... and from her actions I think I read her intentions correctly.

    ...and yes...bath time was over lol.

    Who says reptiles don't have any personality?

    It made me think of Noelle's recent Snakes have social skills? thread.

  • #2
    Re: I've been warned

    Wow. Some boas just don't like getting bathed do they? Though I've got one that enjoys a dip periodically, in her case getting her out is the issue!

    Perhaps you should consider sponge baths for this one in the future?

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    • #3
      Re: I've been warned

      This reminds me of my late friend & fellow-snake-keeper of many years. Some of his favorites were racers...and he recounted to me how, on various occasions, he'd want or need to handle one and it would open it's
      mouth as if to bite him, but stop short (even putting their teeth on his hand but not leaving a mark)...as your boa did...as if to say "let's not go there?"

      You won't find ME saying reptiles don't have personality, that's for sure! Everything I've experienced with them says to me that they do. They exhibit self-control that over-rides their instincts to defend themselves.
      I've given injections to snakes, and injections hurt...why don't they bite me for that? and I've never had one bite the vet either...? But I will say that just like us, maybe not all snakes are at the same level, either
      because of their previous experiences (or lack) &/or because of different genetics? To me, it's just worth it (& more interesting) to try to communicate as much as possible.

      There is always the tendency to "find what we expect to find"...we all have some bias. When I think of those keepers who don't believe in handling their snakes, & just look at them thru the glass (or plexi), why
      should we be surprised when they say that their snakes don't exhibit the same sort of reactions as those that have had more opportunity to interact with us and learn from their experiences? Even humans that
      are deprived of normal social contacts don't develop normally & only overcome that with difficulty.

      We humans prefer to think that we're special & different (& well above) the "animal kingdom". One way we used to differentiate ourselves from the animal kingdom was that we make "tools" to use...yet now we
      recognize that not only do other primates make tools, but so do many birds etc... All I'm saying is that we never 'know' as much as we think we do & should keep an open mind.

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      • #4
        Re: I've been warned

        I'd say that you made the right move Joe.

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        • #5
          Re: I've been warned

          Originally posted by Reinz15 View Post
          I'd say that you made the right move Joe.
          LOL... Yeah I think that would have left a mark

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          • #6
            Re: I've been warned

            Several years ago we had a large female that we would use for educational purposes. She would always, without fail, very gently bite me (if you can actually imagine that) to let me know she was done being showed off. So, back in the tub she would go, lol. Yes, snakes have personality and more intelligence than we give them credit for.

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            • #7
              Re: I've been warned

              Hahaha I've had a similar incident happen to me!!! Freaked me out - first I thought I was getting bit, then I thought it was a yawn but quickly realized she didn't open her mouth quite enough to be a yawn. That is awesome!

              I was watching a friends collection many years ago and he told me one girl hates baths.... I went to give her one (shes about 9 1/2ft) and suddenly she got reaaaaaalllly heavy. I look back and she picked up a 50lb container of plaster with her tail. Not violent but baths are a no no for her hahaha.


              Your post made my morning thank you for sharing

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              • #8
                Re: I've been warned

                Originally posted by bcasilio View Post
                Hahaha I've had a similar incident happen to me!!! Freaked me out - first I thought I was getting bit, then I thought it was a yawn but quickly realized she didn't open her mouth quite enough to be a yawn. That is awesome!

                I was watching a friends collection many years ago and he told me one girl hates baths.... I went to give her one (shes about 9 1/2ft) and suddenly she got reaaaaaalllly heavy. I look back and she picked up a 50lb container of plaster with her tail. Not violent but baths are a no no for her hahaha. Your post made my morning thank you for sharing
                And your post made MY morning, LOL! The image of that snake grabbing a container of plaster to avoid being given a bath is hilarious! "Talking" isn't the only way to communicate...that's for sure.

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                • #9
                  Re: I've been warned

                  There was another time that we got a call to "pick up a python or it was getting euthanized"... so we drive out to Knob Creek Gun Range and in the back room they have a tub... they open it up and there is a rather large African Rock python. We needed to get her out and put her into our tub. Donnie lifts her out and her head is right by his. He hears this sound, turns his head and she has her mouth wide open as if to say, "I know I can hurt you, so you better be nice." She never bit him, just warned him. We had her for a week before she went to someone who would truly appreciate her. She was one of the prettiest we had ever seen and if we had an enclosure big enough for her at the time we would have kept her....

                  Ah, the memories!

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                  • #10
                    Re: I've been warned

                    Great stories!

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                    • #11
                      Re: I've been warned

                      Great story!!! This is why I love boas.

                      Snakes have the best body language of any animal I've interacted with. Because I'm autistic, I don't understand spoken language very well (I'm the worst with English), but I read body language to understand what people tell me. But snakes are way more telegraphing than humans are. I just have to look at Sophie in her house, and I can tell from her posture, he energy/vibe even, whether or not she should or should not be handled. My mother can't do this, so when I've told her that "Sophie doesn't want to be handled right now", she tries anyways and Sophie either pulls back into her terrarium OR on the rare occasion my mom has been bitten.

                      Also, I don't know of any boa species that is okay with anyone putting them in water. Anacondas in particular, both green and yellow, have reputations for getting very aggressive if people put them in water, or put water on them. My one and only attempt to bathe Sophie a couple of years ago, in a bath tub, genuinely frightened her and ended that bath as soon as it began. Boas just like to bathe on their terms, period.

                      I guess all animals have social behaviors? I mean, all animals have ways of communicating with their species, and in certain circumstances, other species too. Communication is social when it establishes a mutual understanding between the two parties to continue some form of future interaction. Maybe a snake telling a human, "If you bathe me I will bite you", is that snake's way of setting a "relationship" boundary. It's a little hard for me to think of snakes being as empathetic as other animals, or even other reptiles, though...

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                      • #12
                        Re: I've been warned

                        Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
                        You won't find ME saying reptiles don't have personality, that's for sure! Everything I've experienced with them says to me that they do. They exhibit self-control that over-rides their instincts to defend themselves.
                        You and me both, sister! It drives me bonkers when people don't think snakes have personality. The way Sophie is so curious, the way she reacts to people differently, her intense hatred of my cat (she can go on hating him, I'm fine with that).

                        Sophie likes to pick and choose who she likes and who she doesn't like. Example - We let our neighbor a while back hold Sophie, and this woman had had boas before and was a very good snake handler. But the instant she picked up Sophie, our boa freaked out and really put up a fight. She's been allowed to spontaneously meet other people, kids included, and been fine with them, except for at least two of those people. Until 2013 I had a very gentle orange tabby named Jenny, who basically was not afraid of Sophie because I held Sophie. (Jenny liked anything that had to do with me). There were times that Jenny would jump on my bed, while I was holding Sophie, and Sophie would know she was there and be completely unaffected by it. But if my cat Spike did the same thing as Jenny, Sophie would tense up, get in an aggressive posture and/or turn around and hide herself behind me. Spike will go up to her terrarium and look at her, and she goes up to the glass and her eyes go black and she stares at him and gives off this very tense energy/vibe. I shut my bedroom door now when I hold Sophie, to keep Spike away from her. Four years of this, I swear...

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                        • #13
                          Re: I've been warned

                          Our anacondas would get upset if we took them OUT of their water, lol. Rainbow boas are the same. They love water.

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                          • #14
                            Re: I've been warned

                            Originally posted by ldydrgn View Post
                            Our anacondas would get upset if we took them OUT of their water, lol. Rainbow boas are the same. They love water.
                            I'm constantly amazed at how many people keep Rainbow Boas in desert dry conditions but throw a moist hide in with them !!!

                            Aghhhh

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                            • #15
                              Re: I've been warned

                              Originally posted by Zincubus View Post
                              I'm constantly amazed at how many people keep Rainbow Boas in desert dry conditions but throw a moist hide in with them !!!

                              Aghhhh
                              When I lived in the desert, I knew a couple that had some in huge & wonderful cages...not only did they have a large 'pond' but they had a waterfall too! It was awesome, both to see & for the snakes' well-being.

                              Sadly that's not the norm though...it's hard for many people to see the beauty of these creatures & not want to possess them, but they somehow over-look the commitment it takes to keep them healthy & happy.
                              This forum goes a LONG way to help would-be keepers see (before they buy, hopefully) the right ways to maintain their animals and to ask questions. Maybe all sales of live animals should have a wait period to cut
                              down on impulse-buys, and a little mandatory education included? (-in a perfect world we'd care about the animals more than about business?)

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