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Miscellaneous Corn Snake Discussions This is a "none of the above" forum. All posts should still be related to cornsnakes in one form or another, but some slight off topic posting is fine.

Bonding with snakes?
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:23 AM   #1
Post Bonding with snakes?

I've been researching like crazy in preparation for welcoming a pet snake. Some claim that a snake of any kind, corns included, are incapable of feeling any affection towards their owners like a dog or cat can. One person stated that no reptiles *enjoy* handling, but merely tolerate it and the people who keep them. Any thoughts on this from experienced snake owners? Can a cornsnake be a loving, affectionate pet even though they can't fetch your slippers or newspaper? Can a snake really bond with its owner?
Old 05-23-2012, 03:05 AM   #2
I don't think affection enters into it as with a cat or dog. However I do believe that a Corn comes to recognise its primary carer as a safe place to be, and if given a choice will express a preference for them over a stranger. It's more to do with trust and instinct than any kind of bond. They certainly won't experience "love" in any sense. You might form a relationship with the snake, but it will not be reciprocated.

Handling preference differs from Corn to Corn. Most will tolerate it and be comfortable with being held by a human. Odd ones will actively come out of their tank if the lid is opened and climb onto a human of their own accord. Conversely, odd ones will never become used to it and will always struggle to be put down. There are no real rules to that one, although most Corns are relaxed and easy to handle - it's one of their advantages as a pet snake.

Be aware that a new Corn will be naturally nervous of handling, especially a hatchling. It may take weeks or months of gentle handling before they seem OK with the process. Don't worry that this will always be the case - sometimes they can be slow learners!
Old 05-23-2012, 08:57 AM   #3
Then again, there are also those who say that dogs or cats don't show affection towards their owner either, they just take their owners as the alpha animals. It's a difficult thing to say, really.

Personally, I have thought that animal sociality is about "family members", meaning those who don't want to eat you all the time, with who you can have safety in numbers. I suppose snakes can feel this way too, some snakes do form groups in special situations, for example gravid females with some species.
Old 05-23-2012, 09:06 AM   #4
If a snake is cannibalistic, they won't differentiate between blood relations and other snakes. I don't believe that any snake recognises "family".
Old 05-23-2012, 09:17 AM   #5
Jmho snakes tolerate us. Some tolerate us more than others. Everything i keep tolerates me handling them pretty well and doesn't recognize me as a threat, but that's about it.

Keeping snakes is a fun, rewarding hobby, but a snake isn't a "pet"...
Old 05-23-2012, 10:03 AM   #6
As Chris said, snakes tolerate handling. They don't enjoys it, and it's not a mutually enjoyable activity. Snakes are not the most intelligent creatures and are best handled once a week if you must.
Old 05-23-2012, 10:09 AM   #7
Originally Posted by bitsy View Post
If a snake is cannibalistic, they won't differentiate between blood relations and other snakes. I don't believe that any snake recognises "family".
Bitsy, check this out!! Some snakes are definitely social, and definitely protect family members from predators. Watch the videos!
Old 05-23-2012, 10:33 AM   #8
I will disagree with David. Some snakes tolerate handling, some do not. I think getting out of the viv, for a snake who does not mind being handled, provides enrichment. (The book, The Art of Keeping Snakes, has some observations of the benefits of enriched environments for captive animals). Additionally, I think some snakes enjoy petting or light muscle massage, and the exercise can be beneficial, especially for gravid or overweight individuals.

Hundreds of thousands of cornsnakes are kept as pets and handled several times a week if not daily. If the individual is feeding and growing, I don't see any reason to limit the handling except during periods of digestion. (I fall on the conservative side here, and handle only after 72 hours of digestion).

Conversely, with 50 snakes in my home, most are only handled once every two or three weeks for feeding and all, without an exception, retain the same degree of "tameness" that they had when being handled on a daily basis.
Old 05-23-2012, 10:54 AM   #9
Nanci, you are correct, many snakes do well with handling. Many snakes may benefit from handling, but I do not see it as something they enjoy. They may benefit and learn that we're not trying to hurt them, but I don't think they actually enjoy it. Now you have a lot of snakes, and it takes an individual who has worked with a wealth of animals to understand this. I think you Nanci (better than anyone else on this forum, and perhaps in the community), provide one of the best environments for your animals hands down. And I know your animals benefit from it. I just don't think that snakes actually enjoy handling, even if they may benefit from it.

I will however say that some species such as Elapids, Old World Colubrids, and Retics, all have been shown to recognize their keepers and has an astounding intelligence level (for a snake).
Old 05-23-2012, 11:36 AM   #10
My personal outlook is that while snakes may not enjoy handling, they do seem to enjoy the new sensory input they are exposed to while being handled. Sienna may not "want" to come out and be handled by me but, once she is out, she is clearly very interested in the new sights and smells. I think it does enrich their lives to be out and about. When I see that she is enriched in this way, exploring and analyzing sights and scents, I receive pleasure. It's not the same as a dog greeting you at the door, but it is cool. That's the closest I come to "bonding" with my snakes.

I think a lot of mammal-owners feel reptiles are "cold" in comparison. (Ugh...unintended pun.) But if you except them for what they are and are able to offer, they can make fascinating pets.

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