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  • [Misc] Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

    Hey, RTB. I kinda poofed on you guys thanks to a slew of new medical issues and just.... life. I have been thinking long and hard for a while and I think I've come to the conclusion I need to rehome both Kitten, my boa as well as my crested and start over fresh. I have been having issues with not understanding Kittens body language and have taken multiple pretty hard hits. Now she is a decently large snake at this point and I'm a 5'2, 130lb woman. I have taken monitor bites and other large snake bites but this girl hits HARD and I have gotten to a point that I am afraid to not only stick my hand in her bin but handle her all together. That is no life for me OR her. I plan on rehoming her. Once she and my crested have been rehomed, I am going to start saving for or building an enclosure. I'd like to start off around 5x2x2. (Please give me a reason I should start bigger or smaller if necessary, I need to know.) Once I have an enclosure, I will begin filling it. I am looking to create not only an enriching enclosure but a display (while I can). Once this enclosure is set up completely, I will be setting aside money to purchase a boa. I will be looking to purchase a male but if I fall in love with a female and she's in my price range I don't mind. Regardless, I am looking for a baby baby. I want to be able to raise this snake from as early an age as possible. As he gets too large for his enclosure, I will either order or build an (at least) 8x3x3 enclosure.

    Now, all of this brings me to a question - I have heard that the 'prettier' morphs can be royal a**holes. Is this true? I'm not looking to spend thousands on a snake - more than likely more like three to five hundred - but I would like to know what kind of restrictions I am going to have directly related to morph. I am looking for a pet - and I like to touch my pets - so I don't want to fall for a morph that isn't going to work for me personality-wise.

    As a last note, if anyone may be interested in either my boa or my crested gecko, please shoot me a private message for further discussion. My boa is not aggressive I just need to step back and have something to do while I learn more about them and become better prepared to own one. The poor gecko just doesn't get the attention it needs.

    Regards,
    Ox Maiden

  • #2
    Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

    Whatever reasons you do this for, that is up to you. I would recommend sticking with the ones you have as they will need a home and it is hard to find good ones. With any animal, you should give it as much space as you can reasonably give. The sizes you see like 5x2x2 are bare minimum sizes. If you had the room and desire to, you could turn a whole room into an enclosure if you had the way to maintain the proper climate. If you get a boa and expect it to stay small, chances are you are going to get one that will turn into a giant just because murphy's law. Boas are not small snakes. They are the world's 8th largest by mass. And don't take someone's word on if it is male or female unless they have no money on the line and are your friends. I bought Buddy as a male because males stay smaller at 6' and 20 pounds. He was growing larger faster than normal even on a conservative feeding schedule (11th day on the 7-11 days schedule). It also turns out Buddy is female and is now Butter.

    If the size is a worry to you and you're dead set on finding new homes for your current babies, you may want to stick to ball pythons or colubrids as they don't get nearly as large.

    I still think you can work with Kitten. Same way I felt a couple months ago. Do you have a snake hook? Hook training is to let Kitten know she isn't being fed. If she is striking you out of fear, you need to rethink how you're approaching. They do not like to be approached from above as that is scary to them. Approaching from the side and behind and scooping up under her is better. But before you do that, you have to make sure she knows you are there and are not going to be feeding her at the time. Sometimes I have to give Butter more convincing that she isn't going to be fed by rubbing her with the hook until she is no longer interested in my hand.

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    • #3
      Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

      The 5x2x2 is only temporary. As I said, the adult enclosure will be 8x3x3 at least. I have no qualms regarding large snakes but I do not feel at all prepared to own a boa. I would really like to take the time to learn more and set up a proper enclosure (Kitten is bin kept) and really start fresh as a well-educated newbie. I will not just throw her on craigslist, I am going to do everything in my power to find a proper home for her. We have hook trained but she is biting me when she's out. I'm honestly wondering if it's my dog. If I've just showered, I tend to not get bit. I did what I could to adjust her when we got our dog (putting towels the dog laid on it her enclosure) but I don't know. Can some of them be bothered by dogs enough to get nippy?

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      • #4
        Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

        I honestly don't know if a dog scent alone could do it unless she has associated it with fear. Do you allow the dog to be in the same room with her when she is out? Dogs like to play and snakes do not, so that might be a source of the fear association. How do you approach her when she is out? From above? From the side? There are lots of variables. Only way to figure it out for sure would be to observe it in person for an extended period of time. If she coils up a bit (1) she is at risk of striking so you need to be cautious about approaching her face. The picture I posted is a fear pose but a feed pose can be similar to this picture (2). If she does either of these poses, you need to lightly rub her midsection with a snake hook to let her know she is about to be touched. You need to be patient and don't rush anything. She will eventually break her coil with gentle persistence and you can slowly go to pick up her rear. Never back down when she tries to scare you off as you will be rewarding her actions with solitude which is what they want. Snakes don't like to be messed with by other animals. When you handle them a lot and socialize them, they stop seeing you as an animal but warm shelter and comfort.


        1

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        • #5
          Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

          When you say that Kitten is "bin kept", I assume that she cannot see out? Sounds to me like when you take her out, suddenly it seems to her as if the whole world is threatening to her...I mean, it's unfamiliar, right?
          You'd be scared too! As far as her biting you, you are within reach & moving, so that makes you a target. I don't think it's "personal", and if you get another snake without understanding what you're doing wrong, you'll
          end up with another defensive snake. And don't be surprised if finding a "good home" for a large boa that bites doesn't go very well. Many people have docile boas that outgrow their welcome: zoos get offers daily if not
          hourly from ppl who just want to find their boa a good home because they are too large...never mind ones that are feisty.

          You might consider something like a captive-bred Australian spotted python. They make great pets because they stay small but have lots of personality. Boas are NOT the ONLY great pet snakes available, you know?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

            Originally posted by OxMaiden View Post
            Hey, RTB. I kinda poofed on you guys thanks to a slew of new medical issues and just.... life....
            If you've been unable to handle your boa for some time, it's very likely that she just doesn't "know you" any more, and you DO need to start over. Some snakes seem to react negatively to dogs or perfumes or other unfamiliar
            odors, but personally I've never noticed any such issues, & I've always had dogs & I've kept a ridiculous number of snakes. But if you have a nervous snake, your dog does NOT belong in the room or anywhere in the vicinity.

            Starting over: Snakes are wild animals...even if captive-bred...and they rely on their instincts to stay alive. WE are "big ugly predators" until proven otherwise... What might work for you is to cover her with a towel, then
            pick her up gently (keeping her in the towel) and cuddling her on your warm lap for at least 30 minutes at a time*...so that she gets to know your scent & your touch. Do this often until you can gradually touch her under the
            towel (and by touch, I mean pet her & give her a massage), & then let her see out (& see you) without any panic. I cannot tell you how long this will take...snakes are all different, as are we. I hope that you'll try to work
            with her, as her future isn't very good if she's biting in fear, and it's not her fault that she's like this. (*BTW, many snakes seem to relax much better when gently rocked also...if you have a rocking chair or a hammock
            available, you should try that too...& yeah, I know that sounds nutty, but I've used that technique successfully many times.) I do believe that if you work at this patiently for a while, you'll both learn to trust each other
            again. You mentioned that you don't understand her body language...and that's another reason I hate to see snakes kept in "bins": not only do we not get to enjoy seeing them, but it doesn't help us understand each
            other.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

              Sort of aid with what [MENTION=13772]Noelle7206[/MENTION] mentioned, I think that [MENTION=6926]weird_science04[/MENTION] had a video on here about using a towel to help with cage-aggressive snakes. If I can find it again, I'll post it here...

              Two of my snakes have taken a couple of years to chill out to the point where I usually don't expect them to strike or otherwise be turds, and using a hook for the first touch before you get them out can be really helpful if it makes you more confident (mine usually chill right out right away after they've been touched once, either hand or hook). Learning their body language can be tricky, and cautiously interested can look the same as scared or ready to eat if you just look at their neck shape for cues, but it is possible...

              Of course, if you're small and you just wouldn't ever feel comfortable with a larger snake, I can totally understand that. If you definitely wanted to stay with boas instead of a generally smaller species, you could look into some of the dwarf (insular and mountain) localities -- none of my insular boas (at four years old) are much longer than four feet. but there aren't any morphs that I'm aware of that aren't mixes with mainland boas (which is undesirable for a variety of reasons, imo).

              Good luck! I hope it's not too hard to find a good home for them all the way up in Alaska!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

                Ok, Star's video is in this post: http://www.redtailboas.com/f14/pleas...94/#post712978

                (I don't want to re-post it because it's not mine)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

                  Thanks for locating my video to help out.

                  I hope this helps.

                  Star


                  Intelligence is not how much you know, but knowing how to put the knowledge you have to use!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

                    I am a 5'3 130 pound woman so I do understand. It can be challenging to get the big ones out. I do believe raising a baby is the best way. You then know the snake and know its demeanor. When it comes to morphs, each snake is different. There are snakes with attitudes and snakes without. Also, just know that a snake without an attitude at a breeders house maybe different elsewhere. It's all about calmness, stress level of the snake, and how long you let them acclimate for. I had a snake take almost a year to acclimate and afterwards, he was great.

                    Star


                    Intelligence is not how much you know, but knowing how to put the knowledge you have to use!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

                      Originally posted by acephantom903 View Post
                      I honestly don't know if a dog scent alone could do it unless she has associated it with fear. Do you allow the dog to be in the same room with her when she is out? Dogs like to play and snakes do not, so that might be a source of the fear association. How do you approach her when she is out? From above? From the side? There are lots of variables. Only way to figure it out for sure would be to observe it in person for an extended period of time. If she coils up a bit (1) she is at risk of striking so you need to be cautious about approaching her face. The picture I posted is a fear pose but a feed pose can be similar to this picture (2). If she does either of these poses, you need to lightly rub her midsection with a snake hook to let her know she is about to be touched. You need to be patient and don't rush anything. She will eventually break her coil with gentle persistence and you can slowly go to pick up her rear. Never back down when she tries to scare you off as you will be rewarding her actions with solitude which is what they want. Snakes don't like to be messed with by other animals. When you handle them a lot and socialize them, they stop seeing you as an animal but warm shelter and comfort.
                      I removed the photos so I could respond more directly with the message. I have never seen her mouth open unless it was on its way to my arm. The second picture I've seen a lot, even before this started. She backs up and looks like that when she is changing directions while being handled. Or have I been missing this huge behavioral indicator? As far as the dog, not only is she my service dog but we live in a small two bedroom apartment. My husband is now away for work for 2-3 months at a time, leaving me alone with not only the dog but our two year old daughter, Kitten (the boa) and our crested. The crested was honestly just to try to tide me over until we got a new service dog prospect, as I was really struggling. I know that wasn't a responsible reason to own an animal but I chose a crested for a reason - they're cute and easy so I knew it wouldn't be hard to rehome her if I needed/wanted to. Now, her and my dog have never formerly met. The dog doesn't have any interest in her and is usually sleeping either on the floor or the other end of the couch when Kitten is being handled. To give you a little background, this snake is around 4ft and a little over a year old. She was fed live until around 10 months old when I purchased her (if I remember correctly) and does have quite a bit of scarring to show it. She has been on f/t with me. When I feed her, she doesn't pose like either of these also, she slithers up, sniffs the rat and takes it. Which also makes it hard to read her. She gives no clear message she's about to take it, other than the fact I know I'm dangling a dead rat in front of her.


                      Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
                      When you say that Kitten is "bin kept", I assume that she cannot see out? Sounds to me like when you take her out, suddenly it seems to her as if the whole world is threatening to her...I mean, it's unfamiliar, right?
                      You'd be scared too! As far as her biting you, you are within reach & moving, so that makes you a target. I don't think it's "personal", and if you get another snake without understanding what you're doing wrong, you'll
                      end up with another defensive snake. And don't be surprised if finding a "good home" for a large boa that bites doesn't go very well. Many people have docile boas that outgrow their welcome: zoos get offers daily if not
                      hourly from ppl who just want to find their boa a good home because they are too large...never mind ones that are feisty.

                      You might consider something like a captive-bred Australian spotted python. They make great pets because they stay small but have lots of personality. Boas are NOT the ONLY great pet snakes available, you know?
                      As far as her being bin kept, I ONLY keep her in clear bins for that very reason. Her bin is in a corner of our dining room that doesn't get a lot of foot traffic, as not to stress her out. The entire reason behind me getting another snake and this extravagant proper set up is to take time to research and learn. She is around 4ft and I have actually spoken to my husband's boss who had snakes for years and he is interested in taking her. I LIKE large snakes. I can handle large snakes. I have just never owned boids and really didn't get to start where I like to with her. I have had a lot of other snakes and seeing as I am keeping a single pet, I'd really like to stick with a boa. I have fallen in love with them - their varying personalities, docile tendencies (regardless of Kitten and they are just all around gorgeous snakes.

                      Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
                      If you've been unable to handle your boa for some time, it's very likely that she just doesn't "know you" any more, and you DO need to start over. Some snakes seem to react negatively to dogs or perfumes or other unfamiliar
                      odors, but personally I've never noticed any such issues, & I've always had dogs & I've kept a ridiculous number of snakes. But if you have a nervous snake, your dog does NOT belong in the room or anywhere in the vicinity.

                      Starting over: Snakes are wild animals...even if captive-bred...and they rely on their instincts to stay alive. WE are "big ugly predators" until proven otherwise... What might work for you is to cover her with a towel, then
                      pick her up gently (keeping her in the towel) and cuddling her on your warm lap for at least 30 minutes at a time*...so that she gets to know your scent & your touch. Do this often until you can gradually touch her under the
                      towel (and by touch, I mean pet her & give her a massage), & then let her see out (& see you) without any panic. I cannot tell you how long this will take...snakes are all different, as are we. I hope that you'll try to work
                      with her, as her future isn't very good if she's biting in fear, and it's not her fault that she's like this. (*BTW, many snakes seem to relax much better when gently rocked also...if you have a rocking chair or a hammock
                      available, you should try that too...& yeah, I know that sounds nutty, but I've used that technique successfully many times.) I do believe that if you work at this patiently for a while, you'll both learn to trust each other
                      again. You mentioned that you don't understand her body language...and that's another reason I hate to see snakes kept in "bins": not only do we not get to enjoy seeing them, but it doesn't help us understand each
                      other.
                      This has all been progressing over the last few months, I have been handling her I just haven't had the time for forums. The first time she bit me (which was entirely my fault and I am aware of what I did) we started over because she surprised me and I wasn't expecting to be bit. This is a snake that used to watch tv with me, turn her head upside down and look at me, just an overall goofball. I am constantly rotation shirts of mine and towels the dog has slept on in and our of her bin for that very reason.

                      Originally posted by NoNameXII View Post
                      Sort of aid with what @Noelle7206 mentioned, I think that @weird_science04 had a video on here about using a towel to help with cage-aggressive snakes. If I can find it again, I'll post it here...

                      Two of my snakes have taken a couple of years to chill out to the point where I usually don't expect them to strike or otherwise be turds, and using a hook for the first touch before you get them out can be really helpful if it makes you more confident (mine usually chill right out right away after they've been touched once, either hand or hook). Learning their body language can be tricky, and cautiously interested can look the same as scared or ready to eat if you just look at their neck shape for cues, but it is possible...

                      Of course, if you're small and you just wouldn't ever feel comfortable with a larger snake, I can totally understand that. If you definitely wanted to stay with boas instead of a generally smaller species, you could look into some of the dwarf (insular and mountain) localities -- none of my insular boas (at four years old) are much longer than four feet. but there aren't any morphs that I'm aware of that aren't mixes with mainland boas (which is undesirable for a variety of reasons, imo).

                      Good luck! I hope it's not too hard to find a good home for them all the way up in Alaska!
                      I have gotten to the point where I take a small piece of cardboard and place it over her head before I pick her up because she has gotten so nippy. We try the hook thing but she is so hard to read I am unable to tell if it worked or not until my hand is involved. I didn't mean to give off the impression I am uneasy about her size, I love larger snakes. I prefer larger snakes, actually and am not a big fan of babies but like I said, I really just feel like I need to start over the right way and with a clean slate.

                      Originally posted by weird_science04 View Post
                      I am a 5'3 130 pound woman so I do understand. It can be challenging to get the big ones out. I do believe raising a baby is the best way. You then know the snake and know its demeanor. When it comes to morphs, each snake is different. There are snakes with attitudes and snakes without. Also, just know that a snake without an attitude at a breeders house maybe different elsewhere. It's all about calmness, stress level of the snake, and how long you let them acclimate for. I had a snake take almost a year to acclimate and afterwards, he was great.

                      Star
                      Are babies with attitudes hard to tame down? Bites don't typically bother me and I have no qualms about trying this out with a smaller snake. With Kitten being 4ft (aka almost as long as me) there is getting to be much less room for error. Her bites are a little more serious, painful and definitely much harder than even a 3ft boa. The fact that I have a 2 year old involved who LOVES the snake and always wants to pet it (when Kitten was her normal self I would keep a hand on both ends and let my daughter pet her midsection) is just another factor pressuring me into finding her a more suitable home and starting with a baby. My daughter doesn't understand why she can't pet the snake now or why it's giving mommy owwies and I really do not want to be encouraging phobias on top of everything else.



                      Thank you all for the advice, this forum is an invaluable resource.
                      Last edited by OxMaiden; 03-15-2016, 08:45 AM. Reason: Fixed a quote tag

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

                        Originally posted by OxMaiden View Post
                        I removed the photos so I could respond more directly with the message. I have never seen her mouth open unless it was on its way to my arm. The second picture I've seen a lot, even before this started. She backs up and looks like that when she is changing directions while being handled. Or have I been missing this huge behavioral indicator?
                        I don't know if any of this will help until you can find her a new home (if it doesn't or I'm getting too annoying, please let me know, and I'll hush)...

                        None of my snakes ever open their mouths or hiss before striking either, so she's not the only one, and the second picture also shares some characteristics with the "cautiously interested" look that mine give me sometimes. The best cues that I have been able to get from my snakes are actually from looking at their mid-section and butts -- if their middle and tail are also moving forward while their neck is getting s-shaped, it's usually a feeding response (they want to get as much of their body as close to the food as possible before striking). If their butt stays in the same place, but their mid-section is moving backward or off to the side, it seems like it's more likely to be fear, and the neck getting tighter may mean a strike. If only their neck is coiling up, it's usually just their head moving back to re-evaluate you. Of course, I have a small sample size to work with, and I'm not an expert at all, so...

                        The other thing that I've found is that certain rituals can make a difference; for example, with three of my snakes, if I open their cages starting at the top and going down, they are certain that it's food time, and there's a reasonable chance of a food-related strike, but if I open from the bottom cage and go up the stack, they are much more relaxed. I've been trying to break that association lately, but I used it to my advantage for a long time to help avoid bites. I also got into a habit with them of putting one hand up right in front of them, but just out of reach, and then using the other hand to go behind or to the side and pick them up, and they got kind of good at understanding that an open hand in front of their face meant that they were coming out. There's nothing special about it, but they seemed to adapt to those kind of habits, so I don't know if there are any associations that are easy to make or break with Kitten... I've also just opened a snake's cage and sat there on the floor right next to it until the snake calmed down (sometimes half an hour or more), and then either taken them out or just closed up the cage again, depending on how calm they seemed. Sometimes they even end up coming part of the way out on their own. That's probably a hard thing to do with a two-year-old running around, though :P.

                        Anyway, just some ideas in case they can make things a little bit easier for you guys in the interim.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

                          Snakes are wild animals. There is no way to guarantee that a snake who is calm and very easily handled now will always be that way, and vice versa. A jerk face baby snake could mellow out as they age or could always be a jerk. A puppy-dog-tame snake could tag you at any time. They are unpredictable, sometimes easily spooked. There is no real way to tell which morphs are nice and which aren't. We've got some thousand+ dollar snakes who are amazing to handle, and some that aren't. Same for the couple hundred dollar range snakes. The point is that you won't really know what you ended up with until you've given them a lot of time to acclimate as star said, and at that point what will you do if you have a jerk snake again? Just keep buying and selling until you find a nice one? Not trying to make you feel bad or anything, I have sold a jerk snake before. You may be hard pressed to find a buyer for a 4ft normal (I don't think you mentioned any morph?) with an attitude problem, though.

                          I guess my point is with boas you've gotta take the good with the bad. They can reach 8ft in length and may not always want to be held and pet. You've got to be prepared for the time that they bite you, either with a care free attitude or with extra precaution (such as gloves and hooks). I have only been bitten once in a few years of having boas because I try like heck to not get bitten. At the same time I don't take my boas out and chill on the couch with them while I'm binge watching Doctor Who, so it's easier to not get bit when you're not giving them an opportunity to bite you every day. Boas are beautiful, amazing snakes, but if you are looking for something that is a little more manageable for a small framed woman and a child you might look into other species as well. I have recently fallen in love with hognose snakes for example, but there are lots of snakes that stay on the smaller side. There are even a few locality boas that say in the 5-6ft (a male hog island boa for example may stay on the smaller side).

                          It's not impossible to find a well behaved boa. More often than not you're gonna find one that tolerates being handled. We have over 30 snakes and only 3-4 that are totally unpredictable jerk faces. 1 in 10 isn't bad odds. But even the nice ones can bite you. Could be an accidental feeding bite, could be a "oh crap you scared me" bite, could be a "I'm not in the mood today" bite. Being tagged fairly often by a 4 footer sucks I'm sure, but boas don't stay 4 feet for long. Eventually you have the chance of being tagged by an 8 footer, and they hit like a truck. Is that a fact you're OK with?
                          Previously jjurczyk



                          facebook.com/k1ssy

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                          • #14
                            Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

                            Originally posted by Jessica View Post
                            or with extra precaution (such as gloves and hooks)

                            (i really like the gloves idea...)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Sadly Starting Over to "Do it Right"

                              Originally posted by Jessica View Post
                              Eventually you have the chance of being tagged by an 8 footer, and they hit like a truck. Is that a fact you're OK with?
                              This is what I was trying to say up front.

                              I found a picture and I'm not sure if it helps or not. It is a picture of retics but it still applys to boas in a way.


                              I'm not sure what changed which has made her strike more since she was calm until you were cautious. With handling all snakes, you should do it with confidence. Have you been more hesitant with her?

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