It’s so exciting to bring your new pet snake home. However, you need to know that you have to wait before handling your snake for longer than it takes to transfer them to their new forever home.
Leave your new pet snake alone for at least seven days since the transport to its new home is very stressful. After that, feed your snake its first meal. To ensure that your snake doesn’t regurgitate its meal due to stress, wait for another two days before you finally handle your new snake.
Next we’ll explore why you should wait and what can happen if you don’t wait before handling your new pet snake. We also cover how you should go about starting to handle a new snake after the week’s up.
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Why You Should Wait A Week Before Handling Your New Pet Snake
When you bring your new snake home and place them in their new tank, they’ll not only be disoriented by their travels, but their senses will also be put into overdrive by all the new stimuli that they’re encountering in the tank.
As you can imagine, all of this is very stressful for your snake and they need time to get used to their new surroundings and having you around before you start handling them. This is because it can be very stressful for a snake to be handled by someone, especially someone entirely new to them.
The snake’s stress levels will be compounded if there are other pets – whether the usual domesticated pets or exotic pets – or if the tank is set up wrong or placed in the wrong place (close to noise or in the sun, for example).
By waiting a week, you will ensure that your snake has acclimatized to their new environment and won’t find it as stressful to be handled by you and won’t see you as a threat they need to protect themselves from.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Wait A Week Before Handling Your New Pet Snake?
If you don’t wait a week to handle your new pet snake, you risk creating a stress cycle in which your snake is stressed when being handled by you and may even remain scared of you.
This is especially true when you don’t give your snake time to slowly get used to you and bond with you. Keep on reading to find out just how to do this!
This stress isn’t just bad for you because it may lead to you getting bitten by your snake because they are stressed and trying to protect themselves. It is also really bad for your snake’s health.
Just like stress takes its toll on human bodies and immune systems when it’s part of a prolonged cycle, so, too, your snake’s immune system is weakened by the stress that they undergo because they are suddenly being kept in a strange place by a stranger.
Your snake’s weakened immune system, in turn, can lead to a lot of health problems and even an early death because of these illnesses.
These levels of stress can quite easily be overcome by handling your snake correctly from the day that you get them (or not handling them, as the case may be).
How Should You Start Handling Your New Pet Snake?
Next we’ll go through the handling process step by step so you can bond with your new snake in the least stressful way possible.
On The Day That You Bring Your New Pet Snake Home
Obviously, you’ll need to handle your snake on the day that you bring them home and place them in the tank. However, you will also need to check your snake’s overall health before you place them in the tank.
When you take them out of the temporary container, check for signs of mites, mucus around the mouth area, any signs of wounds, etc. If they are in the blue, their eyes won’t be bright, but otherwise, they shouldn’t have dull eyes.
Note! If your snake checks out, place them in their new tank right away and leave them alone to check out their new home. If they seem a bit off, contact the breeder immediately as well as contacting your local vet that is able to work with snakes.
The 7 Days After You Bring Your New Pet Snake Home
During the first week that you have your new snake, don’t handle them, but do:
- spot clean their tank on a daily basis,
- check them for any signs of illness, or injuries,
- check on their shedding if they happen to shed the same week that you get them. But don’t pull at the skin! Let it come off by itself or, if you see there’s something wrong, contact your vet.
What To Do If Your New Snake Won’t Eat Their First Meal
On the seventh day that you have your snake, offer them their first meal after handling them for a minute or two. If they won’t accept the food, try again a bit later in the day. If they still won’t accept the food, wait a week (don’t worry, they won’t starve) before trying again.
What To Do If Your New Snake Won’t Eat Their Second Meal
When you offer the second meal a week later and your snake still won’t accept it, you will need to contact the breeder, vet, or both to find out what you should do next and whether you should take your snake to the vet.
After Your New Snake Has Had Their First Meal
After your new snake’s had their first meal, you should again keep from handling them for 24-48 hours. This is to ensure that they don’t regurgitate (throw up) their meal.
Note! If your snake regurgitates their food, you can’t feed them for two weeks, as you need to give their esophagus time to heal.
After this time, start handling your snake for a few minutes at a time every day, slowly increasing the increments until you handle your snake for between 15 and 20 minutes. Try not to keep them out of their tank for longer than 30 minutes, however, as the humidity and temperature outside the tank won’t be ideal.
Other Precautions To Take When Handling Your New Pet Snake
When handling your snake, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling them. This is to ensure that you don’t pick up any germs from them.
You should also put your snake back in their tank when they become restless or stressed when you’re handling them, as they may bite you if you keep on handling them. You could also lose the bond and trust that you’ve built with your snake when you handle them too long.
Do Some Snake Breeds Get Used To Their New Home Faster Than Other Breeds? Do Their Personalities Play A Role?
It seems that ball pythons take longer to get used to their new homes, however, a snake’s personality plays a big role in whether they adapt quickly or need a bit more time.
A snake that is more “shy” may be one of those that refuse their first meal and only eat after two weeks of getting used to their new home and you. Other, more “extroverted” snakes may already interact with you without a problem a few days after you get them while you’re cleaning the tank.
But, whether your snake is an introvert or an extrovert, you should respect them and go on whether they’re ready to be handled, etc. instead of forcing them.
When you get a new snake, you need to leave them be for a week before feeding them and handling them in order to give them a chance to get used to their new home.
You should also go on their cues on whether to handle your snake or not and not force them to be handled for prolonged periods – or at all – if they’re not ready.