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  • [Handling] New Boa/Handling

    Hello everyone,

    I'm new here. I have had ball pythons and corn snakes. With that being said I have only had 1 snake so far that was very defensive. I had to let her settle for a while longer before handling.

    Now I'm not use to boas but I fell in love with them.

    So far it has been close to a week since I've had her. I tried to handle her today and she was striking a lot lol. She was also hissing trying to tell me to back off.

    She is less than 6 months old.

    Species - BCI

    Temp - 95 degrees fahrenheit (basking), 80-82 degrees (ambient)

    Humidity - 55%-60%


    Hides - One on the cool end and 1 on the warm end.

    I blocked off the cage view because I think her seeing me walk back and forth might be stressing her.

    Should I wait longer before handling again? How long should I wait and what other methods can I use?

  • #2
    Re: New Boa/Handling

    I feel your pain. I just picked up an HD Burm that really seems to hate my guts. LOL. After a week she's still hissing and striking. I'm just going to give her some more time to settle in and give it another try. I've actually left the front of her cage unblocked, because I want her to get used to seeing people. If yours is really going nuts, though, blocking it for a while may be the right move. At some point we're just going to have to handle them (try a hook) and pay the price until they get used to us. Also, I think 95 may be a touch on the hot side. I keep mine at 92, but that's not much of a difference. Hopefully you'll get some better help from some of the vets around here.

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    • #3
      Re: New Boa/Handling

      Another good thing you can do would be to have a shirt which you have worn which will smell like you. Put it under or near a hide so it will begin to associate your smell with safety. You can also use it to block it's vision of you and lightly lay it on top and pick it up that way and let it hide in the shirt as you just sit watching TV holding it in your lap. Hook training doesn't hurt, but from what it sounds like, that won't do much good in the short term.

      Hook training is lightly rubbing the snake with a snake hook before you handle it from the cage so it knows it isn't being fed.

      Just think of it from the snake's point of view. You're a giant predator staring in at it and trying to grab it. It takes time. I was lucky and my guy was relatively okay being handled the first time by me.

      How I handled Buddy for the first time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9hjygBudVk
      I lightly rubbed his side with my snake hook, then I slowly reached in with my hand palm up along the ground and lightly touched his side with my finger tips. As he started to crawl away, I got a finger under him and lifted him up. He tried to run but I pulled him out and tucked him into a towel which was in my lap. I started watching Youtube with him in the towel and so was my hand. Eventually he came out exploring but I wasn't moving much because I didn't want to startle him. After handling him many times, I started moving around him a bit more. Now, after handling him every day which he wasn't digesting or shedding for a little over 2 months, he will let me go about my Youtube browsing, random research, and remote work without complaining. Yesterday it was a little cold, so I put on a hoodie and he crawled behind my neck and stuck his head out to watch Youtube with me and staying nice and warm.

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      • #4
        Re: New Boa/Handling

        You've barely had her a week & already trying to handle? Patience! She is just frightened, her whole WORLD just changed & she needs time to feel secure. I recommend not handling at all until any new snake has
        fed easily for a couple times and digested...some snakes will go off feed if handled (due to stress), & it's way better to have a snake eating than "tame". Eating is "job one"! Taming is no problem, just be patient for
        now. I know it takes will-power but the results will be much better. Then when you approach her to handle, IF she is still defensive (striking), you can gently put a hand-towel over her & pick her up for a while,
        keeping her covered. Hey, we're big & SCARY looking! When something picks up a snake in the wild, it's normally a predator that's going to eat them, so remember that your snake needs time to understand that you
        are not a threat. Back to the snake in the towel, you want to keep the snake under-wraps while they get used to your touch & scent, & start to feel safe with you. Do this procedure until it works...some take longer
        than others...but when they are calm, start to let them look out and go from there. It totally pays off, having a snake that feels safe with you so they don't want to bite, and it's up to you to communicate that.

        I agree that 95* is a bit too hot. My BCI seemed to prefer a range of 88-78*

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        • #5
          Re: New Boa/Handling

          Oh yeah, I glossed over the 1 week handling part. It is best to wait a week, then feed. If they feed well, wait at least (minimum) 48 hours before handling. Best to wait 3 to play it safe. I waited until day 13 before handling Buddy for the first time.

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          • #6
            Re: New Boa/Handling

            Some babies are just more defensive than others. One of the tricks I used to settle my baby BRB's after my female had a litter was to make a fist, put it in the tub, and just let them wear themselves out on the back of my hand. Since I was making a fist their teeth really couldn't get caught in my skin, it was pulled tight. I would only remove my hand after they quit striking, so they didn't learn that biting made me go away.

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            • #7
              Re: New Boa/Handling

              It sounds like his boa is a little bigger than a new born BRB. 6 months old and it might be close to 3 foot if not longer. Doing it that way will probably draw blood, but it would serve the same purpose if they don't mind taking hits like that.

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              • #8
                Re: New Boa/Handling

                Originally posted by acephantom903 View Post
                It sounds like his boa is a little bigger than a new born BRB. 6 months old and it might be close to 3 foot if not longer.
                I would hope not, my 18 month old holdbacks from 2014 are three feet and eating weanling rats. At six months they were just outgrowing the hatchling rack and moving into 12-qt tubs. These guys are tiny when they are born, and you have to feed them conservatively since they are kept at lower temps (75-85*F) which means it takes them longer to digest a feeder.

                Doing it that way will probably draw blood, but it would serve the same purpose if they don't mind taking hits like that.
                Better now than a year from now...

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                • #9
                  Re: New Boa/Handling

                  We don't know because they haven't said otherwise about size. I was thinking worst case scenario. And yes, getting bit by a juvenile is much nicer than a yearling or adult. But we don't know if it is just a defensive juvenile or just scared because of how recently he was put into his new cage.

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                  • #10
                    Re: New Boa/Handling

                    Hello everyone. Thanks allot for the advice. She did let me handle her 2 days ago. However she was on her hide so I lifted up her hide with her on it. After a few minutes she went on to my hands. No threat posture or anything. Today I tried to pick her up with my bare hands. It did not go so well. I'm letting her settle for a couple more days. She has her 2nd meal tomorrow.

                    She is relatively small atm. She was fed every 10 days. She does not even cover up the long side of the enclosure yet. I am going to lower my basking spot temp.

                    I'm use to nippy snakes. I have useually got them out of it within a month. Useually I wait a week or more before handling. Bad mistake on my part for doing it early. I'm not use to boas yet. Still trying to learn about them personality wise.

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                    • #11
                      Re: New Boa/Handling

                      Remember that even if a snake "lets you handle them" it's not in their best interest as far as stress goes. The more passive snakes are, sometimes the harder (shyer) they are about feeding, so don't assume that

                      just because a snake isn't trying to bite doesn't mean it's ready to be "social" with you. And I'm speaking for all kinds of snakes, not just boas. It's truly best to give them time to settle into their new environment

                      and have digested a couple meals before you try to handle them; I'm not saying I've never done the same thing though "back when", only trying to share my years of experience as to the best practice & what I

                      know now.

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                      • #12
                        Re: New Boa/Handling

                        My snake isn't hissing or striking but always looks very defensive like it is about to strike. Hopefully more handling will settle it down.

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                        • #13
                          Re: New Boa/Handling

                          Originally posted by Shaynes View Post
                          My snake isn't hissing or striking but always looks very defensive like it is about to strike. Hopefully more handling will settle it down.
                          How long have you had him? It's normal for snakes to be afraid of us...to them, we're big ugly predators. Be patient, it takes time for them to learn...they are NOT "domestic" animals, so they have to overcome their
                          instincts (< self-defense: anything that picks up a snake in the wild is normally a predator about to eat them!), and happily, with our patience, most of them mellow out just fine.

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                          • #14
                            Re: New Boa/Handling

                            Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
                            How long have you had him? It's normal for snakes to be afraid of us...to them, we're big ugly predators. Be patient, it takes time for them to learn...they are NOT "domestic" animals, so they have to overcome their
                            instincts (< self-defense: anything that picks up a snake in the wild is normally a predator about to eat them!), and happily, with our patience, most of them mellow out just fine.
                            He's right. It's not like we are trying to tame young JCPs that I have seen. My boa is just now becoming less defensive. I have not touched mine in a few days and without blinding my enclosure. She picks up my scent as soon as I get next to her habitat. I can put my hands in there to do maintenance without any hissing, threat posture or striking now. However I'm still letting mine be for another couple days. Some snakes just take more time than others.

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