Pet Shop Gloucester tips. Just a brief post on 5 top tips on handling NON VENOMOUS snakes from your favourite Gloucester pet shop.
If your snake has just fed, DON’T HANDLE IT. Handling a snake after it has just fed can be at best unpleasant and at worst dangerous. Snakes swallow their food whole and rely on strong stomach acids to break it down. Whilst this happens relatively quickly, for the first 24 – 48 hours the snake has a large, hard object in a small, confined space. In the wild they would lay up during this period and allow the acids to do their work. Handling causes the snake to move around and this puts pressure on its stomach (or in the case of inexperienced handlers they may actually squeeze the area). This action can make the snake regurgitate the meal (if it hasn’t already as a threat response), bringing up the very strong stomach acid with it, which can cause damage. Even worse, if the snake doesn’t regurgitate and the meal is still undigested other internal organs can be damaged by the pressure, if handled roughly (or dropped). Then of course there is the risk to you. Even a docile snake may strike when it has just been fed or is digesting its meal. It knows you shouldn’t be picking it up even if you don’t.
If your snake is shedding, DON’T HANDLE IT. It’s not so much that it dangerous for the snake (although it may lead to incomplete shedding) but with its eyes clouded over it can’t see. Would you be in good mood if you suddenly had one of your senses taken away? The snake still has other, very accurate senses, so it can and will tag you.
For more advice on problem shedding come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.
So assuming your snake is not shedding and has not been fed within the last 48 hours the most important things is to BE CONFIDENT. Most people who keep snakes will tell you the snake can sense it if you’re nervous. I don’t think they have any ability to sense nerves in you at all, however they can pick up on your body language. If you go in with a hesitant hand, that’s shaking or moving in then pulling back etc. the poor old snake doesn’t know what is going on. When they are unsure of a situation they naturally get defensive and may well strike. I can and have, on several occasions, demonstrated this in the shop where I can simulate a nervous owner and get even a cornsnake to strike or conversely, be confident with a rather nippy kingsnake and not get tagged. In fact someone once brought such a kingsnake into the shop, complete with viv. (as they couldn’t get the snake out, it was so aggressive). The snake was hissing and striking at the glass. I opened the viv. picked the snake straight up and it was quite calm. The owner then hesitantly took the snake off me and promptly got bitten on the neck. Which takes us to the next point.
For more advice or demonstrations on snake handling come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.
Keep the snake away from your face. If a snake does bite it should only be able, at worst, to get your hand. If it gets anywhere else, guess what? That was your fault. Staring up close into the face of a snake is a bad idea. Snakes are carnivores, their senses for the most part are binocular and forward facing in order to judge direction, distance and to strike accurately. This means they are particularly sensitive to anything immediately in front of them that moves. If you wave your hand about in front of your snakes head, or worse your nose (especially if it’s as big as mine) you are much more likely to get tagged. Also all reptiles can carry salmonella. Letting a snake touch your face near your mouth (i.e. kissing it!!) is really a bad idea.
For more advice on being bitten by snakes (especially if the snake won’t let go !!) call us at our pet shop Gloucester.
Wash your hands afterwards. As stated, snakes can carry salmonella. This bacterium is quite likely to be found on the snakes skin. They poop in the viv and move around – it will transfer bacteria onto its skin. You will be letting the snake run through your hands, you will touch it near its cloaca (vent) where the poop comes out so you will get bacteria on your hands. If you don’t wash your hands immediately you will be transferring bacteria everywhere you touch. Salmonella is a dangerous infection, potentially fatal in infants, the elderly and immune suppressed individuals. If you are fit and healthy you will survive but you will never want to get it again. I have had the disease. It is unpleasant, debilitating, incredibly painful and will take some time to recover from. All you have to do to avoid getting it, or giving it to your family, is wash your hands, preferably with an anti bacterial hand wash. We sell them, so you have no excuse. Also some snakes carry diseases that can be passed onto other snakes, the one that springs to mind is IBD (inclusion body disease) that can infect boids (pythons and boas). It is highly contagious and always fatal to the snake. Always disinfect when moving from one boid viv. to another or any other enclosure for that matter. Cross contamination by the owner is the commonest vector for the spread of mites, for example. An alcohol hand wash will kill any eggs on your skin (it dehydrates them) as well as any bacteria and the mechanical action also helps lift dirt that is harbouring other pathogens.