Q: AHH! wild Dumeril's boa!!

Q: I just got a Dumerils boa, I've never had a boa constrictor before, just ball pythons. All of my ball pythons are extremely mellow, you can hold them while doing anything. This boa is veryy unpleasant. He bites constantly, you can barely get him out of the cage without sustaining multiple wounds, although he is small, id like to tackle this before it becomes a larger problem. While holding him he doesn't calm down, with every move of something he strikes..
Is there any way to tame these snakes? Or are some just way more aggresive. I'm a very nervous person, and I know, I was kind of neglectful in my new snakes choice, but I'd really like to keep him and give him a good home. 

So does anyone have any tips on how to tame this snake, he is still very young so I'm hopeful that there is something I can do, doubled with holding him a lot that might make him docile in the near future. 

A: My two cents is to ditch the leather gloves.  I tried gloves once way back when and my nippy snakes settled down pretty quickly, but as soon as my gloves came off though, theirs did too.  It's important that the snake gets used to your scent and the sensation of your hands.  If you can take a bite or two (and it sounds like you already have!), I'd suck it up until he settles down and gets comfortable with you.  On a side note (and at the risk of opening a long-debated can of worms), I wouldn't feed him in a separate enclosure.  Program his brain to accept food in his cage, then remove him with a hook for handling.  While he's still young, teach him never to expect food outside his cage and you'll be far less likely to sustain a bite in the future. - BJW


Q: Help tracking missing snake

Q: I know this has been asked before, but I can't figure out how to search the Answers forum and realy don't have time to figure it out right now. LOL.  Anyway ... today I discovered that Genesis (one of my baby/juvi jungles) is missing.  I can't tell how long because I just got home today after being out of town for a while.  My other half was snake-sitting while I was gone.  Since I can't tell how long its been ... I dont even know if she is in the snake room anymore.  I hope she didnt get into the vents. I'm gonna set some water out in the snake room and perhaps in the hallway, etc.  Any other suggestions?  I need to check the closet ... but I'm gonna wait to do that until tomorrow.  Too tired right now after cleaning up the cages.  It's been about 2 weeks since she last ate ... so she is past overdue.  Thanks in advance!

A: If it's getting cold where you are too you might try setting up a series of really sweet heated "hide boxes" in the rooms you think she might have travelled to.  Snakes in general (but especially pythons) become mobile at night and will eventually hunker down in one of these makeshift shelters and can be extracted in the morning.  Following this same logic, be sure to check under the fridge, behind the water heater, anywhere there's a pilot light, etc.  Warmth is key this time of year!  Good luck. - BJW


Q: Taming a Recaputred Cornsnake?

Q: Okay, so my 6 month old corn got out about three months ago (he's now 10 months) from the cage he shared with my female of the same age. I won't go into details about how much and how hard I tried to find him, but as he is found, I need help. Before he's escape, Indran was a curious and very active corn. He would wander all over my hand, wrist, and arm. Now he lays in a coil, unless I come near his cage. As it was my younger brother who found him, I don't know if my corn had been that violent (hissing and shaking his tail) when he was caught. How do I go about retaming him?

He is currently in a seperate tank than my female, as I was afraid of him harming her. He's also over two feet long now, though he won't let me close enough to handling him long enough to accurately measure him. He has accepted one mean of frozen pinkie, and has had one shed in the two weeks I've had him back.

A: It sounds like your snake has reverted to his "wild" psychology, and you need to break him of that!  Instinct tells him when he's threatened he should lash out aggressively; if you give him space and reward his striking when he acts out you'll reinforce the behavior.  If my snakes strike at me aggressively from within the cage (mistaken feeding strikes are forgiven), they're on the end of a hook and quickly in my arms faster than they can hiss.  They may puff and strike and bite all they want, but they're not allowed back into the safety of their hides until they've calmed down.  In that way they learn to associate "good" behavior with the ends they seek.

As others have said, you're probably going to get bit a few times, and if you haven't been nailed before I know that's a little hard to accept and wrap your mind around.  Two suggestions to help you get past this: 1. With a corn snake, you may avoid the bite altogether using an open palm technique (note: this does NOT work on all species!).  When you go to handle the snake, don't approach hesitantly; instead, throw a confident open palm gently over the coiled snake's head and body.  Strikes are typically a visual threat more than anything else.  Once under and then in your hand, most snakes accept that they've been "bested," so to speak, and will stop trying to bite.  2.  If you have one of the outlier animals that insists on striking and biting while in your hands (like my water python, "Honey"), do yourself a favor and DON'T WATCH.  Manipulate the snake in your hands without looking at it.  It forces you to become more "in tune" with the animal in a tactile sense, and it calms your nerves so that you can handle him confidently, a security your snake will undoubtedly feel, which will ll help him calm down too!  You're likely to feel some weird tugging sensations, kind of like being pinched with coarse sand paper.  Guess what dude -- you just got bit and didn't even know it.  Now keep handling until he shapes up.  Good luck! - BJW


Q: How to locate a lost ball python ?

Q: I'm posting this for someone whom i'm doing a trade with...
He recently lost the ball python we were to trade and he cannot seem to locate her at all... He fed her the one night and then didn't close to bin tightly ... Now she's gone and he cannot seem to find her anywhere...

Is there any tips i can pass onto him on how he can find her ? He said he's ripped the whole house apart with no luck at all and no signs on finding her..

Any help and ideas on what he can do to find her, would be awesome.

A: I've heard a lot of techniques ranging from various traps (baited and non-baited) like minnow traps to "I follow my cat around the house."  Personally, my secret weapon: a warm spot in a cold room.  If you can isolate the snake to a single room or two, cool them to the low 70s (low enough to be uncomfortable, but nothing too dangerous) then offer an awesome warm hiding spot -- a heating pad under a blanket works well -- and vacate the room for awhile.  Remember, pythons (with the exception of Aspidites) have labial pits that allow them to detect heat.  In a cold room that hiding spot will stand out like a bright red beacon against a black field, and you're very likely to find him within a day or two.  If there is a fridge in the room, behind or under it is usually the first place to check.  It too is warm and cozy, and many a lost snake has been found there!  Good luck. - BJW


Q: Ball Python Anal Plate Opening Up

Q: I have only had Mojo for three months, (unsexed but I refer to it as male) so I am new to experiencing many things.  With the nice weather, I took Mojo out a few times to be in the sun.  The last two times I noticed his (what I gather to be) anal plate openng up and closing.  

I have not seen this action happen while holding him inside and while outside, he would open and close it.  He did it before he deficated and also a couple days afterwards.  He is a regular weekly eater who recently went to F/T adult mice.  He was eating one hopper before that, but they went down fast and the adults are no larger than his girth.

He moves around fine, has no problem being handled, has no other signs of anything being abnormal.  When it was opened up, there were no signs of anything looking inflamed or infected, and when closed it looks like it always has.. nice and flat and no discoloration.

So, is this a common action or response?

Thank you for any insights!

PS.. I tried to take a photo while it was opened up but it came out blurry due to his moving around.

A: I don't think "he" is pooping (you're not seeing poop) and farting is rarely observed in snakes, usually indicating some sort of gastric distress.  As for the "airing it out" theory...  well...  last time I saw that it was a bum in New York, and the NYPD quickly escorted him away.  But hey, to each his own.

I'm not convinced that Mojo is male...  What you've described sounds a lot like a phenomenon called cloacal dragging (I've heard it called more amusing things, but this isn't the appropriate forum).  This is a breeding-related behavior that many snake species exhibit, though it's particularly pronounced in the pythons; it's usually restricted to females of reproductive age.  Cloacal dragging is both a visual and hormonal indicator to males that a female snake is ready to mate; as she drags herself over the ground she leaves a trail of pheremones that draw nearby males to her.  She's also exposing herself to whatever rogue hemipenis is in the vicinity.  Pheremones, by the way, are the  logic behind the new traps that Florida is proposing for use in the everglades -- pheremone scent traps should, theoretically, draw snakes into them.

Why your ball python would be cloacal dragging outdoors only is beyond me.  Perhaps some combination of light, heat, and humidity put her in the mood?  Perhaps she's detecting pheremones from other snakes?  Get her probed by an experienced vet or keeper in your area.  My bet is that your boy is a "she," and that she is -- at worst -- just a little lonely. - BJW

Follow up: you mention it is done to indicate they are ready to breed.  My question is would or could this happen to one that is probably just over a year old?

A: Yes, females frequently exhibit this behavior as an indicator that they're physically ready to breed.  But that deserves some qualification...  Just because a female is physically capable of breeding does NOT mean that she is "ready."  There's a human parallel to be drawn here but I'll let you go down that road on your own...  Breeding is EXTREMELY taxing on the body.  If you don't believe me, ask your mother.  Calcium is literally leeched from the female's bones and reallocated into the developing eggshells and skeletal architecture of the offspring.  Energy reserves from months of eating and resting are completely depleted as they go to fund the developing fetuses.  Let's not even get into the stretching involved in egg production and laying (here the ovoviviparous snakes may have it comparatively easy)...  You get the idea, right?  Producing a new generation of offspring is taxing on a female snake; she must be well-equipped and well-prepared to face the challenges of those months post-breeding, or major complications are likely to ensue.  Female snakes that are pushed to breed too early typically produce a higher number of "slugs" (eggs that are infertile or which are terminally damaged during oviposition) and are much more likely to egg-bind, a frequently fatal condition in which eggs become impacted in the female...

This might have included more details than you bargained for but I hope it illustrates, if only in an elementary way, how important it is to wait until the female is physically well-equipped to breed before embarking on that next step. - BJW


Q: Calling all kingsnake breeders!

Q: So, im trying to breed my cali king pair. The first night i put them together, they were together for an hour and they had a successful copulation. Last night they were together for the same amount of time and he certainly did try, but to no avail. Tonight when i put them together, they ignored each other completely. My question is, is it possible that he got her on the first try and now they dont have any interest to do it again? Or should i not be putting them together every night? Should i wait a couple days in between each attempt? Thanks for your help in advance.

A: It's unlikely that their apparently waning interest is due to the male "knowing that he got her" (though it's likely that he did).  You wouldn't call a girl the day after meeting her at a bar, would you?  You wait a few days so you don't seem too eager, and you recharge your game, right?  He's doing the same thing, albeit in a less anthropomorphic way.  Good sex is tiring for both parties, and chances are they just need some time.  Too much forced interaction can be stressful and inhibit your success. Space out the pairings by a few days and just keep trying.  Try pairing at night too, if you aren't already.  And be watching for that tell-tale bulge!  Good luck. - BJW