Do Pet Snakes Like to Be Petted?

A pet snake sounds epic, but are they an animal that likes being petted? After doing some research, I’ve learned what these slithery pals do and don’t like. I’d like to share that with you, on behalf of our reptilian friends.

Do snakes like their human owners to pet them? Snakes do not enjoy being petted, and most snake species do not even enjoy being handled although they can develop a tolerance for it. Factors such as species, age, and how accustomed to their owner they are may affect this.

Snakes tend to be uncomfortable when you initiate physical contact too much. However, each snake (and each human) is like a snowflake: unique.

Which Species of Snake Is Most Comfortable With Humans?

From Harry Potter to Indiana Jones, snakes have been cast as a scary, mysterious and sneaky reptile. I’ve begun to wonder if there is a certain species of snake out there with a higher tolerance for the shenanigans we humans put on, and I’ve found that there is one. 

So which species of snake has the highest tolerance for humans? The corn snake is a great beginner snake because it is more even-tempered than some of its brother species, and is more comfortable with humans.

The corn snake got its name from the pattern on its belly, which is (not surprisingly) similar to corn. It can grow up to six feet long or could grow to be an adult as small as four feet. Corn snakes are not typically aggressive.

They also are active enough to be interesting for younger kids while still being tame. Corn snakes are most active around dusk and dawn, and are cute to boot.

If you want to learn how to help your pet snake (be it a corn snake or a ball python) become accustomed to you quicker, feel free to read on. I also wrote an article about the pros and cons of having a corn snake as a pet, that includes important information for anyone considering buying one. Find it here.

How Can I Make My Snake More Accustomed to Being Handled?

Imagine being plucked from your happy, warm little tank, tossed in a box, driven around, and then picked up by an unfamiliar handler…

Snakes are awesome, cool and collected reptiles, but they go through shock, too. How can you help your long, little friend acclimate quicker to being handled? Here’s a list of suggestions:

  • Give him space. Snakes need time to adjust to a big move, too. Let him get to know his new environment, and be sure to check his water regularly. Keep it fresh for him without turning into an intruder.
  • Let her eat first. Admit it, you get hangry sometimes. Imagine eating only once a week, like your little reptile buddy. It’s best to try handling your new pet after they’ve gotten their first rat meal.
  • Take age into account. Younger snakes tend to be more high-strung, but it may depend on the species you have. Corn snakes especially are a little edgier in their youth. Become familiar with the age stage your reptile falls in. If your snake is young, be particularly careful not to offend him.
  • Only handle your snake once or twice a week. Snakes are not cuddly creatures. They like their solitude. After some time has elapsed and they’ve grown used to being picked up three or four times per month, your snake will be more prepared for regular handling. They just need to feel comfortable around you first.
  • Play with active snakes. Once your snake is more accustomed to handling, they might like playing games in a relaxed, take-it-or-leave-it setting. Try letting them swim in a mini pool of shallow water, or play hide-and-seek in their tank. Active snakes appreciate this while some of the others don’t, so make sure you know your snake’s preference.

All in all, snakes are easy-maintenance pets with no huge desire for attention. Actually, they like very little of that.

Is It Possible for Pet Snakes to Bond With Their Owners?

Dogs bond with humans almost immediately and usually long-term, and cats can too, but snakes… well, do snakes bond with their owners? I’ve looked into this question for potential snake owners.

So do snakes bond with their owners? Actually, it’s hard to tell. Some snakes seem to enjoy the company of their owners, while others are completely indifferent to their very existence.

It’s nothing personal if your pet snake doesn’t seem to want to cuddle. They don’t have a need for affection or empathy, and they don’t show that towards anyone else either. However, some snakes which have grown accustomed to certain owner’s presences seem to get nervous when that owner is not around or when they are being handles by someone new.

It seems their connection to us humans is based more on their respect for mutual silence and comfort, rather than the all-consuming loyalty of a dog or purring furry rubbing of a cat. In fact, here you can find an article I recently wrote about whether or not snakes can be affectionate to their owners, where I answer questions that snake owners commonly have.

How To Tell if My Pet Snake is Uncomfortable

Most reptiles are difficult to read (and humans, for that matter). But you don’t have to leave your pet’s comfort to guesswork.

How can you tell when your pet snake is uncomfortable? If your snake is squirming, rearing up in the air in an “s” shape, hissing, fake striking, pulling away, really striking, or constricting his or her stomach in a nervous manner, then your snake is officially uncomfortable.

Some snake pet owners seem to disagree on one thing: arm squeezing. Sometimes, when you lift up your pet snake or are moving your arm with your pet snake on it, you might feel a light squeeze as it wraps itself tighter to your arm. Some insist this is a form of physical affection, although based on everything we’ve seen about these happily isolated reptilian friends… that seems unlikely.

Others say it is because they feel they need a stronger grip to be safe, they are afraid of heights, or they just squeeze when they are tense and need some space again.

Either way, pay careful attention to the responses your pet snake is giving you, and don’t push him past his comfort zone. If your snake is exhibiting signs of discomfort, give him a few days to relax again.

Do Snakes Like Humans?

Finally, the big question. They make cool pets, and we may like them, but do snakes actually like humans? 

The answer is, they seem to tolerate us. Snakes are different from cats, dogs, and any other animals, and their connection to us will be different too. 

Cats meow and purr and rub up against your shins. Dogs bark or jump and hop around in exultant excitement when they hear that you’re home. Snakes leap through the air in a steak of pure joy and curl around your arm to give you a hug…

Oh, wait. They don’t.

Snakes wouldn’t be snakes if they had to exhibit the same outward affection other animals do. They’re sleek, cool, calculated, and quite frankly, pretty primitive when it comes to emotions. They’re not looking for a BFF, but they don’t mind company, as long as it’s not intruding on their personal boundaries.

Snakes might not show a huge love for humans, but they don’t mind us if they don’t have to.

Related Questions

Do snakes have emotions? Yes, but they seem to experience a narrower, more primitive range of emotions as needed for survival, such as fear or aggression. They don’t demonstrate emotions regularly.

Do all snakes hiss? All snakes have the capability to hiss. Their anatomy is such that they breathe through the glottis, but not all snakes choose to hiss.

Why do snakes flick their tongues? When they flick their tongues in and out rapidly any which way, they may be picking up odors and scents to familiarize themselves with their surroundings. When their tongue flicks out and down, they are probably sampling food or cage.

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