Snakes are a pet like no other! But this means it can be a bit intimidating stepping, or slithering in their case, into the world of keeping a snake as a pet, especially when it comes to things like handling. So if you do decide to keep a snake, getting the species that suits you and what you want from your pet is key. As with all animals, different species have different temperaments and may react differently to how you keep them. Personality of individuals can also play a part in this but as a general rule of thumb, here is a brief guide to snake handling which may help you choose the right species for you.
To start, we recommend when picking up your snake, to pick up from the middle of the body. Snakes don’t like having their tails pulled or heads grabbed, so going for the middle of the snake keeps it balanced and ensures the snake does not panic and can feel as comfortable as possible when being picked up. Next is holding the snake safely. Species like the corn snake are good climbers and will spend a lot of time climbing trees in the wild, in this case you are the tree, so stand as still and calm as possible and allow the snake to get comfortable in your hands. As the snake moves you can slowly move your hands along with it to keep it in your hands and it will soon settle down.
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As seen in our recent instagram reel, some snake species are easier when it comes to handling than others. Corn snakes are our number 1 favorite choice when picking a snake that can be handled safely, and for good reason. These guys are fairly easy going and tolerate handling well, making them a great beginner species if you are looking for a more interactive pet. Royal pythons are also easy to handle and will often just sit curled up in the palm of your hand. The only reason these guys do not steal the no. 1 spot on our list is because they can be sensitive to their environment and may not react well to too much handling. Therefore, the corn snake is our top recommendation.
Other species such as the hognose snake, king snakes and milk snakes, can be handled but have a bit more “personality.” Hognose snakes like to huff and puff to make themselves big and scary but this is all for show. Once picking up the hognose, they tend to settle down and are then easy to handle. This can understandably put off a lot of first time snake owners which is why as far as handling goes, we recommend for the more confident or experienced keepers. King and milk snakes go by the same rule, when picking them up they may musk on you. This is a defense mechanism to deter predators and first time snake keepers. After being picked up they tend to settle down and be easy to handle but this initial, smelly reaction can put people off if they are not as confident while holding snakes. All of these species can grow out of these habits as they mature into adulthood and get used to being handled more often.
Of course this is just a rough recommendation guide on snake handling and what species are best for interacting with. Individual personalities of the handler and the snake can play a part in the handleability of the snake. If you have a snake at home and would like some advice on handling, pop into our store and we can have a chat and show you how we recommend safe handling of snakes.