Snakes can be great pets because they are generally quite easy to care for, especially compared to cats, dogs, or birds, and because they are beautiful and have fascinating behavior. However, it can be more difficult to determine whether or not your snake likes you than with a cat or dog.
You can know that your snake likes you if they are generally calm and unhurried around you, eat and explore readily in your presence, comes to the front of the enclosure when you are around, and is calm and relaxed when you handle it.
Here’s what you need to know about some other signs that your snake likes you, as well as important information about how snakes relate to people and what you can do if your snake doesn’t seem to like you very much.
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Signs That Your Snake Likes You
This infographic shows you seven signs that your snake likes you. Below this infographic, we explain these signs in a little more detail.
1. Calm, unhurried movements.
Snakes that are frightened or anxious about being around a person will generally try to escape, generally with quick, frenzied movements. Therefore, a snake that is calm and relaxed in its movements around you is probably not afraid of you.
2. Takes food from you or while you are present.
Eating makes a snake vulnerable to predators, so a snake is unlikely to take food from you or eat when you are nearby if they believe that you are a potential threat.
If your snake will eat while you are near or readily take food from you, they probably trust you.
3. Will calmly explore you when you hold it.
A snake that gently grips you and explores your arms, shoulders, etc. rather than trying to get away or gripping you very tightly likely trusts that you will hold it gently and not drop it, which indicates a liking of you.
4. Comes to the front of the enclosure when you are present.
A very clear sign that your snake likes you is if it comes to the front of the enclosure when you come near.
A snake that is fearful of you will likely seek out a hiding place when you approach, and an indifferent snake will likely not move at all.
5. Rests on you.
A snake that is happy to hang out on your shoulders or arm and soak up your heat is showing clear trust of you. Snakes that are willing to sleep in this position are even more trusting.
6. Explores when you are nearby.
A worried snake will stay still or seek out a hiding place when you are around, whereas a snake that is very comfortable with your presence will enjoy exploring a new environment when you are around.
7. Behaves differently with you.
If your snake comes to the front of the enclosure or wants to be handled by you but not when other people are around, you can know that your snake recognizes you and prefers to be around you than other people.
Are Snakes Really Capable of Liking a Person?
If snakes are able to distinguish between and have preferences about the company of other snakes, it may stand to reason that they are also able to prefer the company of people.
People who own snakes often find that their snake appears to show signs of liking them. They frequently feel affection towards their snakes and feel that their snakes have affection towards them as well.
Since some snakes not only seem to prefer the company of other snakes but may also protect their young, it seems that they may be capable of some level of affection.
It can be very difficult to ascertain affection scientifically. Even animals that we now think of as clearly showing affection like dogs and cats were not necessarily believed to be affectionate until relatively recently.
Therefore, It remains up for debate whether snakes are capable of liking a person, but there is certainly some evidence that may indicate that they do.
Can Snakes Distinguish Between Different People?
Snakes use vision to understand their world more than people have previously thought. Therefore, it would be logical to assume that snakes are able to recognize a person visually.
When it comes to smell, it is even more likely that a snake can tell you apart from somebody else. Snakes have a nose with which they can smell, but they are even more adept at smelling using their tongue.
They have a pair of organs on the roof of their mouth known as the Jacobson’s or vomeronasal organ dedicated to smelling.
The probability is very high that snakes can differentiate between individuals using their powerful sense of smell.
They’re likely to be able to tell you from someone else as soon as you are in the room, but if they are able to flick their tongue against you, they will be even more sure of your scent.
Snakes can also sense vibrations and may be able to differentiate the vibrations made by your voice and movements from somebody else’s.
This may explain why wild snakes sometimes seem much less frightened when they hear the footsteps of a person they recognize who has not caused them trouble before but may quickly flee from unfamiliar footsteps.
Are Snakes More Comfortable With One Person Over Another?
As we said, snakes can probably tell people apart, and it stands to reason that they may tend to be more comfortable with one person than another. The experience of individual snake keepers certainly attests to this.
Many people find that their snake becomes excited and comes to the front of the enclosure when they enter the room but that the same snake is indifferent when somebody else enters the room.
Many people also find that their snake seems to enjoy being handled by them but that it is resistant to handling by anybody else.
Similarly, people often find that when they ask somebody else to take care of their snake for them while they are away, the snake is unwilling to take food in the presence of a stranger, even if it will happily take food from its owner.
All of this evidence points towards snakes being more comfortable with someone they have gotten to know well and trust than they are with other people.
Signs That Your Snake Doesn’t Like You
Snakes are very different than people or most other pet animals, which can make it challenging to determine whether they like you or not. Understanding some of the signs that your snake may not be very fond of you can help:
- Moving quickly towards cover whenever you are nearby
- Refusing to take food from you or eat when you are around
- Hissing at you, snapping at you, or shaking the end of the tail like a rattlesnake
- Flailing to get out of your grip when picked up
- Tasting the air very rapidly and flattening the body when you are nearby
- Forming an S shape or striking position when you try to pick them up or while you’re holding them
- Don’t calmly explore their environment but rather only seek shelter when you are around
Your Snake Doesn’t Like You? Here Is How To Make Your Snake Like You
It can be very frustrating if you find that your beloved snake doesn’t seem to be as fond of you as you are of them.
Whether your snake gets along well with somebody else in the family but seems indifferent to you or you are the only person who interacts with a snake but they want nothing to do with you, you are doubtless wondering if there’s anything that you can do to make your snake like you more.
Thankfully, you’ll be glad to learn that there are a number of things that you can do to encourage your snake to feel more positively about you.
Be Confident With Your Snake
You should strive to be as confident as possible when you are interacting with your snake. If you are insecure or fearful, you may tend to jerk your hands or body, approach hesitantly, and otherwise indicate your anxiety to your snake.
This fearfulness, in turn, causes your snake to behave more fearfully as well.
Associate Yourself With Food for Your Snake
Food is one of the most important things in your snake’s life, so it should come as no surprise that building an association between you and food will cause your snakes to like you more.
You can feed your snake by hand using tongs (we recommend long tongs like these) or simply be sure to stay in the room when your snake is fed so that they will become comfortable with eating around you and associate your presence with the food.
“Break the Hunt” When Handling Your Snake
Most snakes are ambush predators. They may mistake your hand in their enclosure with a food item. Needless to say, being bitten by your snake will not encourage either the snake to like you or you to like the snake.
You can use a snake hook (like this one) to pick the snake up or use an object to brush the snake’s nose before you pick it up so that it knows food is not involved in the interaction.
Support Your Snake’s Entire Body
When you hold a snake, it is very important that you provide good support to the snake’s entire body. Dangling the snake by a single support point will cause it to be very anxious and unlikely to trust you.
Don’t Restrain Your Snake’s Head
If you are unsure about handling a snake, you may want to hold the head to prevent it from biting you. However, holding your snake by the head will make it see you as a predator and hurt the trust between you.
If you are unsure about holding a snake and want to avoid being bitten, consider wearing gloves or using a hook to support the first half of the snake’s body near to the head.
We recommend using these gloves here as they are made for handling snakes and will protect you from being bitten.
Don’t Handle Your Snake Right After or Right Before They Eat
Snakes just want to relax and digest their food after a meal. Handling a snake right after it has eaten can put stress on the abdomen and cause regurgitation, which can be harmful as well as stressful for your snake.
On the other hand, if you handle your snake right before it would typically be fed, it may be more likely to view your hands or other body parts as potential food items.
Let Your Snake Explore
Most snakes enjoy exploring a new environment. Transporting them to somewhere new and being near them when they explore can associate you with a pleasant experience and make your snake like you more.
A great way to do this is to let your snake explore a household plant while you supervise.
Enjoy a Positive Relationship With Your Snake
Knowing the signs of whether your snake likes you or doesn’t like you can make it much easier for you to understand how they are feeling and encourage them to like you more if they seem to be uncertain about you.
With patience and plenty of positive reinforcement, you can enjoy a great relationship with your pet snake.