Did you know? – Snakes can learn!
Not only that but they can, and should, be taught safe handling techniques along with you. We as the handlers are not the only ones that need to learn how to interact with them, but also them with us. It should be a partnership, and it is built on trust.
This post is actually about safe handling techniques for large snakes. Other than hook or tap training which is essential, the Snake Scarf is the next most important thing you should UNlearn. We’ve all seen people wearing their snake around their neck like a scarf. This is something I strongly discourage and almost never allow the Snake Haus animals to do.
From day one I start training our snakes the one shoulder – belt position. This is very important for the largest of boas, and all burms and retics. You should never allow a large snake to wrap fully around your neck. They hold on when trying to prevent themselves from falling and you really don’t want your neck to be what they hold onto.
For the record – they are NOT constricting you, rather they are holding onto you to keep from falling!
We all have the tendency to carry the weight of a large snake on our shoulder because that is where we are strongest. However, you should only use ONE shoulder, not both. By repeatedly placing your second arm over their coil each time they go to your other shoulder, they quickly learn to hang onto your armpit and waste, instead of your neck.
My preferred position for the really long snakes is to have their 1st 1/3 of length over one shoulder and the rest of them wrapped around my waist like a belt. I do this so consistently and repeatedly with all of my snakes that they learn to choose this position themselves.
This accomplishes TWO GOALS:
1) Hands free – I can completely let go of the animal to talk, gesture, and work on things while handling a snake that is more than 10 feet long. . . because they hold on and help support their own weight.
2) Trust – this technique teaches the animal to stay with ME for safety and reassurance. When hanging onto me in this way they can feel my heart beat and breathing and will visible calm and settle when I take a deep breath and they feel my calmness.
Have a look through these pictures to see the repeated pattern of how I hold them.
So, what are we going to remember from this discussion? The rule with large snakes is use only ONE shoulder.
Just say NO to the snake scarf! 😃