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Can Pet Snakes Be Affectionate to Their Owners?

Oliver Jones

The ability of a pet snake to show affection is limited. They will not display emotions as cats or dogs do, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the company of their owners.

Pet snakes are shy creatures, and although most will show affection without asking for anything in return, experts say you’ll have to work hard to earn your pet’s love.

Let’s find out whether or not pet snakes can be affectionate to their owners.

new snake dividerDo Snakes Get Attached to Their Owners?

Snakes and other reptiles are generally not affectionate to humans. They may become more tolerant of their owner, but they remain mysterious and hard to read when it comes to emotions.

At one time, the main worry of experts was that, unlike mammals and birds, snakes do not have a sufficient number of facial muscles to form expressions, and they don’t even have eyelids. They cannot communicate or show affection with body language either.

If you were to abandon your pet, it would most likely not miss you and simply go about its business. Pet snakes may even survive for months without food or water, which gives them much higher independence than other pets.

While they may not get attached, snakes are capable of showing affection.

Common Water Snake
Image Credit: Imageman, Shutterstock

How Do Snakes Show Affection?

Snakes show affection in several ways. One of the most common is rubbing their heads against the object they are trying to be affectionate towards; this is called head-bobbing. Snakes also have other showing methods, such as “necking” and body loops with vibration, which means a snake is trying to wrap itself around the object it wants to be affectionate towards.

Another common showing method used by snakes is called “sneaking” and involves moving from behind its owner and wrapping around them with a body loop on top of their shoulders or neck. If you see your pet snake doing this, accept their invitation to be affectionate and slowly pet their body or head.

“Hissing” is a very common way of showing love towards its owner, but this depends on the personality of the snake species.

Do Pet Snakes Like to Be Handled?

Whether or not your pet snake will appreciate being petted depends on the species you have. Some snakes like to be handled by their owners, while others are aloof and try to get away from you. You should never handle a snake immediately after it has eaten or it might become aggressive towards you. If your snake becomes aggressive, it’s best to avoid touching them because it may bite you.

If you’re interested in handling your snake, try picking up its cage first and let it become used to your scent.

Snakes are not meant to be handled without care. When you do begin to handle them, be sure to hold them around the middle so that their tail isn’t exposed. If the tail is not restrained, a pet snake may bite in defense or frighten itself and try to run away from you.

A,Lemon,Blast,Royal,Python,Snake,,Ball,Python,Reptile,Pet
Image credit: Deb Davis, Shutterstock

How Do I Know My Snake Is Happy?

You may be wondering how you can tell if your snake is happy. Here are some ways to tell. One sign that a snake is content is when it rubs its head on the ground or a nearby object. It probably means the snake finds its home comfortable and safe. Another sign of happiness in a snake is when it coils up.

The complete form of a snake’s coil tells you the snake’s level of security, so it probably feels very safe and contented if it coils up completely. A happy snake will also appear alert and interested in its surroundings and less likely to hang out in dark corners or hide under things like rocks and logs.

Do Snakes Know Their Name?

Snakes can’t hear their name, but they can undoubtedly associate a sound with an event. One way to teach your pet snake its name is by tapping on the glass and saying the word “snake” as you do so. It might help if you then tapped on the tank again while providing it with some food to associate the sound of “snake” with a positive event.

When you have successfully established this association, tap on the glass and say your pet snake’s name until it crawls up to investigate what is going on. If that doesn’t work, try saying its name while providing some food in an area where it has been inactive for a while.

What Emotions Can Snakes Feel?

The two most apparent emotion is fear and aggression. But there are other emotions like surprise, contentment, and happiness as well.

The world of snakes is a complex one with many varied species in it. These emotions are often intertwined, so when a snake feels content, it may also feel happy and vice versa. They feel these different emotions vary significantly from creature to creature, so this article can only explore some general thoughts on the subject but not give any definite answers about specific snake type’s feelings.

Tessera Corn Snake on the branch of the tree_Kwiastku_Shutterstock
Image credit: Kwiastku, Shutterstock

How Do You Tell If a Snake Likes You?

All you have to do is observe its body language. If it’s trying to get away from you, if it’s freezing in place, or if it’s biting at you, the chances are that your snake doesn’t like you.

Are Snakes Intelligent?

It appears snakes are rather unintelligent creatures. Reptiles, in general, have a fraction of the number of brain cells compared to mammals, and the prevailing theory is they use this smaller size because it helps them be cold-blooded.

One study found that only some cranial neurons are devoted solely to moving sensory information around the nervous system. This essential neural connection lacks any cognitive function because it doesn’t combine senses like sight or sound with context and memory like our brains do.

How Do You Bond with a Pet Snake?

To bond with a pet snake, you must first understand its natural behavior. For example, do they like to be touched? The owner needs to know what sort of temperament their particular animal has to behave appropriately. Snakes are often shy creatures who enjoy solitude from people or other snakes as much as possible. They like to have a place they call their own and enjoy being alone while it is dark so that the outside world cannot bother them. However, they are not mean-spirited and will be happy to receive gentle affection from someone who has earned their trust.

To earn a snake’s trust, the owner must be wary about not appearing threatening. Your pet snake needs to feel safe and at ease around you for the relationship between you two to grow! Be sure that your snake is fully aware of what you are doing before trying anything with it.

When working towards a trusting relationship, it’s important to remember that snakes can’t hear anything. They have no auditory sense to tell them what is going on in their surroundings.

If you’re trying to put a snake and it’s not responding, remember that they only can smell your hand, so make sure the scent of your hands isn’t off-putting!

Worm Snakes-Pixabay
Image credit: Pixabay

Do Pet Snakes Feel Love?

Pet snakes are reptiles, so it’s fair to say that they do not: they do not have the capacity for emotions in the same way humans and other animals do. However, as many pet snakes can be fed by their owners and given physical contact with their owners, some pet snakes may enjoy physical contact with their owners, even if they do not experience “the love” that humans know.

You might also be interested in: 7 Best Heating Pads for Snakes & Reptiles in 2021: Reviews & Top Picks

new snake dividerConclusion

You may have a pet snake and wonder how to show affection or if your snake is happy with you. That’s why we’ve compiled together this ultimate guide of questions that people commonly ask about their snakes! If you’re still not sure if your snake likes you, reach out, we can help answer any other lingering concerns. We are here for the entire life cycle of owning a pet snake, from selecting one in the first place to taking care of them as they age into elder slithering status!


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.