One of the most challenging things any snake keeper can do is to tame a wild snake down to the point of being comfortable with you. Before we get going on what to do you should be well aware that some snake’s simply won’t be tamed. You’ll need to know when enough is enough and it time to stop your efforts.
- Catching a wild snake
- The first step is obviously catching a wild snake. Before you go out to do this check your local laws as some snakes are protected. When it comes time to collect a wild snake you are better off taking someone who is familiar with the native species with you. The next best thing is a good field guide for your local area. Obviously you don’t want to be bit by a venomous snake while trying to catch one.
Before you do anything else do some studying into the husbandry requirements of the snake you are going to be catching and have everything setup BEFORE you go and find one.
You need to take the proper equipment with you. When I go out to catch snakes I like to have the following items in my “kit”
- Heavy leather gloves
- Heavy long sleeved flannel shirt
- 2 or 3 pillow cases
- Snake hook
- A padded dowel (3′ long) for pinning
- Map and compass
- Digital camera
Then I start looking where I know snakes are found and begin hunting. Once I have the snake I want I go back home with it at put it in the previously prepared tank. Once I put it in the tank I cover it with a towel and make sure to let it get as much rest as possible. Getting caught is hard work for snakes and it stresses them out greatly.
Just like a captive bred snake the first week should be one of rest. In other words don’t spend hour on end trying to handle the snake. Give it at least 7 days before you attempt to handle it.
- After the first week
- Following the first week is when training really begins. Start with short regular handling sessions. I try for twice a day 5 minutes each time to begin with. You have to judge how tame your snake is becoming in order to know when and if to extend the handling sessions. When you are handling an untamed or questionable snake there are a few simple precautions to keep in mind for both your own and the snake’s safety.
- Wear gloves and long sleeves
- Keep the snake away from your face
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the snake
- Make sure the lid is secure when you return the snake to it’s cage
In most cases as you handle the snake it will get used to you and calm down considerably. Regular handling will just help to reinforce the snake’s tamed nature. If however the snake is refusing to calm down you can either maintain it as a display animal or return it where you found it. If you keep it you’ll probably find it very difficult to keep thriving because of how stressed it is.
- Keys to keeping the snake tamed
- Always remember that a snake is a wild animal. Even store-bought captive bred animals are still wild. That means you’ll need to regularly handle it even after it has become tamed. If you don’t it will lapse back into it’s natural ways. Make sure you keep the snake comfortable otherwise it will be unhappy and unhappy snakes are not tame snakes.
The most important key is to remember that a snake is never really tamed. It is at best acclimated to you and willing for whatever reason to put up with you. No matter how much you work at it the snake will never become like dog or cat that comes when called.