Let’s take a moment to consider the difference between domesticated animals and habituated animals.
Domesticated animals are those that have been bred and raised around humans for countless generations. These are the more common pets we have like dogs, cats, and horses. It takes 100’s of years for a type of animal to become domesticated and means that they have evolved to be co-dependent on humans for much of their life style.
Habituated animals are those that have adapted and become accustomed to be around humans but are not dependent on them.
Reptiles are habituated, NOT domesticated. As more and more captive breeding happens we may begin to have reptiles that are gaining the domestication but we are not there yet. This means that we need to respect and honor their natural behaviors from the wild in order to help them be comfortable around us. Humans are predators in the wild and we must remember that when working with non-domesticated species. They can learn to trust and co-habitate with people but it requires training and socialization.
Most snake behaviors will fall into 5 categories:
5) Physical comfort/discomfort
Understanding, and being able to recognize, these different behaviors is vital for helping your snakes acclimate to their captive environments and to people.
The pathway from WILD to HABITUATED to DOMESTICATED . . .
. . . is a gradient that is not always one direction, nor simple. Blood and Short tail pythons are a great example of this. They have a bad reputation for being bitey and flighty. This is due to a couple of different things. First they are a naturally secretive animal. They do not appreciate exposure and always prefer to hide. Also they have not been bred in captivity for very long. The first animals in the pet trade were wild caught specimens that had no habituation to humans. As we get further generations out from the wild caught animals into captive bred individuals we find they are getting much calmer and easier to work with. This is also true of the Dwarf and Superdwarf reticulated pythons. They are quite rare in the wild and have only been bred consistently in captivity for the last 20 years or so. We have two first generation Superdwarfs living here at Snake Haus (Lore and Realm) that are only one generation removed from wild caught. They’re behavior is much different than that of our younger retics who come from a longer line of captive bred animals (Lilith and Legend).
Snakes have different personalities that are influenced by the type of animal it is and how it was raised. For example carpet pythons and reticulated pythons tend to be very curious making them more likely to interact and explore their surroundings. Boas and ball pythons are more comfort seeking and prefer to be left alone and hidden. The blood and short-tail pythons are down right anti-social.