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Pet Snakes provides easy to understand, practical information and facts to help the new snake owner take care of their animals. At Pet Snakes we want to provide information that will help you enjoy your reptile more than ever.

How to avoid being bit by your pet snake

A question I frequently come across online and in various emails I receive from readers is regarding how to get avoid getting bitten by a pet snake. Snakes are very simple creatures with rudimentary brains and they only bite for a few reasons. Once you know the reasons your snake is biting you it becomes much easier to avoid.

Snakes, just like all other animals have a natural defense mechanism to lash out and bite when they feel threatened. This is especially true if you don’t handle your snakes often. I read a description on the internet once that really drove the point home for me. In a nutshell what the person said was this –

Your snake is minding its own business just hanging out and all of a sudden Godzilla comes along, picks up the house, moves things around, grabs the snake and packs it off. The snake is scared to death and strikes out.

That’s not an exact quote but it gives you the idea. If the snake isn’t familiar with you it will fear you. If it fears you then it will very likely bite you.

When it is feeding time and you start prodding around in the snake’s tank it doesn’t matter how tame it is chances are that it will attempt to strike at you. It is only a matter of time before you get bit by a hungry snake looking for an easy meal if you don’t pay attention to the signs.

A hungry snake will often exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Excessive tongue flickering as it smells the air for possible prey
  • A lot of roaming back and forth within the tank as it searches for prey
  • When you open the tank it will often sit in the strike position waiting for prey
  • Sometimes they will yawn a lot to loosen up their jaws and prepare to strike

Not all snakes react the same way to being hungry, but those are a few common warning signs. You’ll need to learn how to read your own snake’s behavior to determine when it is hungry. You’ll greatly improve the likelihood of getting yourself bit if you ignore the snake’s signals when it wants something to eat.

You smell like the snake’s food
If you smell like the prey your snake eats chances are sooner or later it is going to strike and bite you. Don’t handle the food and then handle the snake before washing your hands. Actually it is a good idea to wash your hands before and after handling your snake regardless of if you’ve handled the snake’s food.

When all is said and done some snakes tend to be more aggressive than others which leads them to bite more often. Certain species have a tendency to be more nippy. Amazon Tree Pythons for example are known for being more likely to bite. Young Carpet Pythons are known to be biters until they get used to being handled. Some snakes will outgrow it and some won’t. That’s why it is very important to research the snake you plan to buy and have a through understanding of the type of animal it is genetically.

Those are the main reasons why snakes bite. Sometimes it is tempting to attribute human emotions to a snake and tell people that their snake bit them because “it doesn’t like you”. Please avoid doing this as it is completely untrue. Snakes neither like nor dislike people. They are either motivated or not to bite based on outside stimulus not on emotions. Avoiding snake bites isn’t hard it just takes common sense and being aware of what is going on.

  • Having just purchased a corn snake I found this an excellent read

  • Myhollygirl

    I found this to be very informative as I am a new owner of a snake. I bought a cornsnake due to being a beginner . I am skiddish to of getting bit.

  • Even if you are bit there's virtually zero chance of them actually hurting you. Corn snakes I mean. Other larger snakes can definitely hurt.

  • Tom

    my corn snake is 2 months old and strikes me every time i go to pick it up ,1st of all i must like it because i keep going back for more, ill take it out for about 20 mins aday to show im keen and its great when on me and when its feed time i feed it in a large open tub then place tub in its vivarium when its swallowed food ,then when it leaves tub i remove tub then leave it alone for about a day and a half to digest its food then i start over again. although it doesnt hurt when it bites im thinking when its bigger and it bites it might draw blood and im worried ill have to get rid and i dont want to come to that i just want to have a tame snake ,help

  • alicia

    Could you possibly offer some insight to Rosy Boas? I'm considering buying one. I would be a first time snake owner however have worked at a petstore for quite a while now and am used to handling snakes. But I'd still like something that is less aggressive and like that they seem to move more slowly and deliberately.

  • kara

    my son got bit by a boa

  • Samantha

    Ok so I just got a 6ft red tail boa and I fed it a rat about a week ago. Today I was puttin my hand in the cage and he struck and bit me. Could it be because he was hungry or could it be because I didnt wash my hands after I woke up from a nap. I used to have a snake when I was 11 and it was a corn snake. Now I have.a 6ft boa. What should I do?

  • Samantha

    Ok so I just got a 6ft red tail boa and I fed it a rat about a week ago. Today I was puttin my hand in the cage and he struck and bit me. Could it be because he was hungry or could it be because I didnt wash my hands after I woke up from a nap. I used to have a snake when I was 11 and it was a corn snake. Now I have.a 6ft boa. What should I do?

  • Sdurantr

    my sons 6 ft king snake decided to try to eat my thumb while I was removing waste from cage , would not let go took 10 minutes to pry him off and hurt really bad. We’ve had him several months and my husband is afraid now he’s tasted human blood he’ll do it again. I don’t want to make my son get rid of him,but at the same time I don’t want him to gey bitten either.

  • With all due respect to your husband it sounds like he has been watching too many movies. Snakes, despite what the movies and other popular culture would have us believe are not vengeful animals. Getting a taste of human blood is not going to cause them to desire more of it. Here is very likely what happened.

    You began cleaning the snake’s cage and it saw your hand movement and went into feeding mode. Keep in mind that anything can trigger a feeding response in a snake. It doesn’t have to be actual food. Anyhow, it saw your hand and went into feeding mode and struck and latched on.

    Remember your thumb is a warm, living object, just what a snake wants to eat. Further evidence that it was in feeding mode and not defensive of its territory was that it didn’t let go. Had it just been trying to get rid of an invader it would have struck and let go. Perhaps multiple times.

    But it held on and then you no doubt yanked the snake out of its home and began yanking and prying at its mouth to get your thumb free. The snake became even more panic stricken and decided it was in a fight for its life so it held on for dear life. I can guarantee you it wasn’t holding on so it could gorge itself on your blood. At that point it had no concern for your thumb or the blood. It only knew it had been ripped from its home and there was probably a great deal of commotion going on.

    The fact is that if your son has a snake he will, and let me emphasis this as much as possible… HE WILL BE BITTEN AT SOME POINT. Snakes are wild animals and have to be treated as such. People also have to expect that they will act like wild animals and bite them. Some snakes bite every time you go near them and others only bite on rare occasion.

  • Saintsrow0721

    Would like to add everytime you go to pick up Cornsnakes/Pythons do so with confidence if your hands in the viv dont keep hesitating and move your hand   back and forth Snake are awesome are smelling fear and they thrive off it. If you show Confidence then your snake will have Confidence in YOU.

  • Kmitchell8984

    I have a redtail boa about 4ft an one day after he got done eating as I reached in to remove him from the feeding box he bite me,so im curious should I wait a little longer before I try to remove him?

  • Have you changed the type of soap you use to wash your hands before you reach into the tank? Sometimes certain scents will cause a snake to react like that.

  • Mikkel

    My snakes both bit my dad. i have 2 Snakes. Green Rat Snake and a Californian king Snake. Once we tryed feeding my Cali king snake we afterwards tryed to take out like 10 minutes after. He went insane and bit my dad like 6 times in his thumb and now im kinda afraid holding him… Usually he ONLY shits all over me.

  • Jeevinntan

    I have a Pewter Ball Python that really wants to kill me. When I brought her home, she bit me. So I kinda thought it was because of I bringing them back to a different place would cause them stress. But its been like 2 or 3 weeks now and she still bites me. Hmm idk what’s wrong

  • Rosehclarke

    My corn snake bit my boyfriend & drew blood, now ever since when we feed her she draws blood on the mice, sometimes loosing interest in the food once she has had enough blood. She makes a huge mess with it, getting blood all over the tank & herself. We’re struggling to feed her now! My other snake is fine, so I don’t know what it is or what I can do to stop her. Any ideas?

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