abnormal behaviour in snakes
Slow and controlled tongue flicks simply mean your snake is taking in its surroundings. More studies on the behaviour of both wild and captive snakes are needed in order to best interpret these findings. For the case report, researchers at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) looked at a captive snake, a male false water cobra (Hydrodynastes gigas), hatched at ZSL London Zoo in 2011 in which abnormal repetitive behaviour had been reported by staff since May 2017. The rattlesnake is the best known snake that exhibits tail flicking behavior whereby a vibration of the tail of the snake creates sound. 3. The project was challenging due to the lack of available information regarding ‘normal’ behaviour in both wild snakes and those living in zoos and similar environments. 1. That's not a behavior, that's not he's angry. Of the 2,200-plus species of snakes in the world, fewer than 20 percent are venomous. If this happens every now and then, or especially during feedings, it’s very normal and nothing you should worry about. You might notice the eyes becoming white, light blue, or another pale color. As pet owners, we all want our animals to lead the happiest lives they can. They're escape artists. 4. If he's always on the cooler side, it may mean that you need to adjust down the heat on the warmer side. It can be easy to get discouraged by a pet that doesn’t outwardly express joy and excitement, but by understanding snake behaviors, you can assure your wiggly little friend will live a healthy, peaceful life. Snakes don’t really “yawn” out of sleepiness, but instead open their mouths incredibly wide to gather air particles to smell. Although the report focused on one individual, the team also surveyed international organisations holding the species in order to better understand the prevalence of similar apparent stereotypies in other individuals, with one other establishment reporting similar behaviour. In many cases, this merely means your snake has smelled something new or interesting. If you would like to, you can learn more about the cookies we use. The snake was frequently observed engaging in abnormal, repetitive undulatory movements in contact with the glass at the front of the enclosure, without changing either the pattern or location of the movements. Learn about common snake behavior problems in this Howcast video about pet snakes. April 22, 2017 Chloe Becker Pet Fun. Some of the more common behavioral problems that people will ask about, really aren't behavioral problems at all. Snakes are probably the most misunderstood, and most illogically feared creatures on the planet. Though all behavior is relative to breed and individual reptile, here is some common snake body language to help you understand your slithery friend a little better. The results are important within the field of reptile welfare, as they indicate that stereotypies can exist in snakes, and that greater understanding of this behaviour is needed in order to improve their environment and raise welfare standards. Continuing to use www.cabi.org  2. The detection of stereotypical behaviours can enable animal care experts to recognise an issue and take steps to tackle it. Along with this, your snake may hiss or puff up. General Snake Behavior 14/03/2011 09:04. For example, one of the more common is why does my snake constantly bump his nose on the terrarium or on the roof of the terrarium? However, constant or severe head wobbling, sometimes to the point of being upside down, can be an indicator of a neurological problem or very high stress levels in your snake. 30, pp. Stereotypies are characterised by an unchanging, repetitive pattern of behaviour, and in captive animals can be associated with the need for improved welfare. As you’ve probably seen, snakes can open their mouths almost impossibly wide to swallow prey, so occasionally they’ll widen their mouths beforehand to make the eating process easier. Head wiggling. Access to over 2.2 million abstracts, over 145,000 full text documents, and news articles, book chapters and disease datasheets, VetMed Resource smart searches are based on commonly researched topics, and your own requests. 59-65, Warwick, C., Arena, P., Steedman, C., 2019, Spatial considerations for captive snakes., Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, Vol. “Yawning.” Many snake lovers find this behavior rather cute, but it’s actually quite functional! With no vocal cords, arms, or legs to let us know how they’re feeling, snakes can often be rather difficult to decipher, leaving owners confused and frustrated. This is very similar to the way snakes flick their tongues to smell, but on a grander scale. The false water cobra is a large, active, rear-fanged snake from South America, so named because when the snake is threatened it ‘hoods’ as a true cobra does. As a snake’s sight and hearing is quite limited, you’ll see them doing this often. Tongue flicking. 37-48, remove selected records that are not saved in My CABI, Zoo-, Wild-, Laboratory-, and Other Animals. Like this guy here, he wants to go explore to one side and the other. Animal Rescues and Shelters: We Want to Help! CABI is a registered EU trademark, Blood pressure measurement (cats and dogs), Food allergies/intolerance in dogs and cats, Haemonchus contortus – vaccine development, Necrotic enteritis and probiotics/competitive exclusion, Nutrition and heart disease in dogs and cats, Recurrent airway obstruction in the horse, Total intravenous anaesthesia (TIVA) dogs & cats, Urolithiasis - treatment of dogs and cats, Waeyenberge, J. van, Aerts, J., Hellebuyck, T., Pasmans, F., Martel, A., 2018, Stress in wild and captive snakes: quantification, effects and the importance of management., Vlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift, Vol. One other really common question that people will ask is why is my snake moving around the terrarium and he has his mouth open? It's not a behavioral problem it's a natural thing that they do. A strike may not come immediately, but your snake is at the ready to defend itself if needed. However, if your snake deliberately retracts its head and coils its neck into a curved stance, it is in defense mode and has positioned itself to strike. You probably already know snakes use their tongues to smell. Animal Welfare, 29:371-378, doi: 10.7120/09627286.29.4.371, Copyright © 2020 CABI. Changing eye color. Another one is, is why does my snake only stay on one side of the terrarium, he never moves around? Regular eating and drinking, normal basking patterns, and relaxed breathing are all signs of a content snake. Sign up to receive our Veterinary & Animal Sciences e-newsletter, book alerts and offers direct to your inbox. A snake’s eyes turning opaque is one of the best indicators he or she is getting ready for a shed. Snake Behavior Problems. Eckstein 42 reported the observation of this tail vibration in the grass snake, N. natrix, as well. A Sitting For a Cause Blog Featuring All Things Pet-Related. 5 Snake Behaviors Explained. Although well known in certain species, little is known about abnormal repetitive behaviours and their correlation with welfare in reptiles, especially snakes. A persistent abnormal repetitive behaviour in a false water cobra (Hydrodynastes gigas). means you agree to our use of cookies. 2, pp. Some of the more common behavioral problems that people will ask about, really aren't behavioral problems at all. This is no cause for concern, as your snake has simply outgrown its skin, but the animal will likely be very uncomfortable as it prepares to shed, so handling should be avoided if possible. Additionally, if a snake smells something interesting, they may “yawn” in order to stretch their jaws out for a big meal. If only all animals could wag their tail like a dog or purr like a cat to let us know they were happy. 2020 Q1 Recap: $230 Donated to Animals in Need, 2019 Sitting for a Cause Recap: $2,485 Raised to Help Animals in Need. Coiling into “S” shape. For snake owners, it’s important to remember that snakes don’t have the range of emotions that many other pets do. So those are a few simple things that people will misinterpret as behavioral problems in snakes. Access to over 2.2 million abstracts, over 145,000 full text documents, and news articles, book chapters and disease datasheets Snakes are quite flexible, so you might find yours in the shape of an “S” at any given time. It should always be in the high 80's maybe the low 90's. Study calls for greater understanding of the needs of captive snakes. They're testing their territory and if you're not careful these guys will actually lift the lid off of your terrarium, so you want to be very careful. That's not a behavioral problem. In this case, your snake’s curiosity may lead them to bite, so be watchful of quick tongue flicks during handling to avoid any unwanted nips. Transcript. This is to ensure that we give you the best experience possible. If only all animals could wag their tail like a dog or purr like a cat to let us know they were happy. People have an instinctual fear of snakes that stems back for thousands of years. A case report published in the journal Animal Welfare shows that snakes being cared for in a variety of environments may be susceptible to stereotypical behaviours, and that these may be resistant to reduction through enriching the snakes’ environment. Article: Michaels, C. J., Gini, B. F., Clifforde, L. (2020). And while your snake may not form an attachment to you like a dog or cat, curling up in a ball on you or staying generally close to you for heat is a good indicator your snake is comfortable and relaxed with you. 5. Short, rapid tongue flicks usually indicate something has really grabbed your snake’s attention, such as a mouse or other food. It’s best to leave the animal alone at this point, but this is also a good time to check the temperature and humidity of its enclosure, as problems with these factors commonly lead to unhappy snakes. A common reason for that is your heat gradient is wrong. Like most websites we use cookies. This affliction is common in spider morphs of pythons, so be especially mindful of head movements if you own this particular type. 87, No. Learn about common snake behavior problems in this Howcast video about pet snakes. That's natural snake behavior. If you notice that the snake is always on the warm side of the terrarium and not moving a lot of times what that means is the heat isn't enough, so we need to increase it a little bit, so the snake will enjoy and move around the terrarium. If you’re looking for signs of an overjoyed, cheerful snake, you probably won’t find them, but that’s not to say that snakes can’t live pleasant lives. Most of the time what that's an indication of is that the heat is much too high in the tank, so it's an indication that you need to adjust the heat. Abnormal behaviours may be exhibited by half closed unfocused eyes, inability or unwillingness to move, extended head and lack of ability to right body position. Enriching the animals’ environment is the most frequently used method and often results in either the elimination of or reduction in the proportion of time spent stereotyping. The study also looked at various enrichment options, including prey scent trails and altered feeding schedules, which were designed with the known wild behaviour of the species in mind, but found these did not reduce the prevalence of the stereotypy.

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