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Snakes with personality and intelligence?

Discussion in 'Not So Spineless Wonders' started by AzJohn, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. AzJohn

    AzJohn Arachnoking Old Timer

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    I'd like to know about your experiences with inquisitive snakes that seem smarter than the average snake. I'd really like to hear about snakes that seem to enjoy human interaction. I currently keep five snakes, two ball pythons, a Honduran milk snake, and a pinstripe corn, and my woma. Every one but the woma are small.

    My woma is ridiculous. I've had him for about a 7 weeks. He was never handled at the pet store and the employees were slightly intimidated by him. Woma's try to eat people. Even at only 4 feet. They had him for over a year.

    He is so cool. I handle him when he wants out. I fed him Wednesday morning. This evening when I went into the snake room his head was looking out of his hide. I opened the door to his tank. He started heading to the open door slowly. I used the snake hook to rub his side and tap around his nose, showing him it wasn't a feeding day. He sped up and started got about 10 inches out of the tank. I picked him up at that point and we hung out for about 30 minutes. I always give him a few minutes to explore something, potted plants, the floor a blanket on it, or the couch. I put him up over an hour ago. Right now his nose is up against the door of his tank. The cool thing is he knows what side I open his door on and always goes to that side.
     
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  2. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    I've heard king cobras seem calculated, but can't speak from personal experience.
     
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  3. CWilson1351

    CWilson1351 Arachnobaron

    Not really sure it's any indication of intelligence or enjoying human interaction, but my Brazilian rainbow boa comes to the glass when I enter the room and will almost follow me. If I go from one side to the other of her enclosure.
    Also my Mojave ball python comes out to the glass as well. The pastel doesn't though. I suppose that's a decent comparison that they do exhibit individuality if nothing else.
     
  4. Mordax8393

    Mordax8393 Arachnosquire Active Member

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    Smartest snakes:

    - King cobras are the smartest, no question. I had the privilege of watching a wild king for a bit, and they are so different from anything else I have seen, they are so much more calculated and confident.
    - Larger Rattlesnakes, especially C. cerberus, oreganus/lutosus/helleri, horridus show extremely complex social behaviors from mammal-like parental care to long term "friendships"
    - Other larger vipers are suspected to show similar behavior
    - Reticulated pythons are known to be able to recognize individual people and alter their behavior towards different individuals.
    - False water cobras are much more conscious of the world around them than most other snakes according to most keepers. Plus, this is a very reasonable snake to keep unlike the others I have mentioned.
    - Mambas are pretty smart too, they have to be to be able to live such a fast paced lifestyle.
    - Anacondas, Burms, etc. I would suspect to be pretty intelligent too, as most large snakes are.
     
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  5. AzJohn

    AzJohn Arachnoking Old Timer


    I'm thinking kind of hard about getting a falsie or other large colubrid like a cribo or indigo. I can probably afford an indigo next summer.
     
  6. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    Interesting, I've never heard of this before. Have you got a source?
     
  7. Mordax8393

    Mordax8393 Arachnosquire Active Member

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  8. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Without a standard criteria as a base of comparison this topic ends up being in the realm of subjective observations.
     
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  9. AzJohn

    AzJohn Arachnoking Old Timer

    I know there won’t be much that isn’t subjective. I’m interested in people’s experiences really. In fact I’m kind of window shopping. My next snake will probably be a female woma to breed with my male. After that I’d like to get another snake with similar characteristics. My woma can be found waiting at his sliding door around 6:00 PM every night. He likes his nightly tour of the pile of pillows on the floor. I know a lot of his actions are predatory behaviors. I get the impression they are not ambush predators and actively hunt prey. It does make him a cool pet that likes being out of his cage. In fact a few times a week he fights with a little bit when I try to put him back. No bitting or hissing, he just really wraps up my arm when I try putting him back in his home. While I’m untangling his back end, his front end is trying to get out the door. I’m looking for another species that has some of those behaviors.
     
  10. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    I'm not interested in recommending any wild animal be subjected to captivity - unless their natural habitat can be replicated. But that being said, if someone wants to walk on the wild side, and dice to the max, I'd suggest a krait. From word go, you get the critter home, plop it in any sort of containment, drop in a baby garter snake or two and simply leave it completely alone for a week. The containment MUST get natural daylight each and every day. MANDATORY.
    Then after a week, nice and early in the morning just open the containment and enjoy. Essentially tame, calm, curious, and extremely slow right out of the box. It wouldn't mind sitting in your lap or wrapping your arm. Letting it wander about the house during the day is meditation and yoga time for the keeper. They are curious, but very very slow.
    But come an hour before sundown it must go into a secure containment. Right after dark it wakes up. Jekyll and Hyde transformation. Fast, strong, and bite happy. And deadly. Next day, early AM, calm, slightly curious slow companion.
    Warning: If it doesn't get a chance to orient it's diurnal cycle, the bite happy monster may appear at any time.
     
  11. AzJohn

    AzJohn Arachnoking Old Timer

    I’ll never get a krait, for a bunch of reasons. While I enjoy learning about animals that have a better than average chance to kill me, other than a few scorpions I kept years ago, I pretty much only take pictures of the highly venomous snakes that live around me. Your post did get me curious. I found a video from somewhere, i couldn’t understand what he was saying, with a reptile rescuer. He was getting a krait out of a house, I think. It wasn’t moving at all so he used a piece wood as a spatula to put it in what looked like a large water bottle. He then waited until night fall to release it. He tried using a piece of grass to convince it to get out of the bottle. It wasn’t leaving so he dumped it out rather unceremoniously. He then tried getting it to do something by poking it with the grass. It just sat their for a few minutes them crawled away. I never would have known how potentially dangerous the snake could be if had seen it on the ground. It’s probably a good thing they aren’t found in the desert south west of the United States. I might not have lived past 13. We used to play with any snake that didn’t have a rattle. We were always gentle and would put them back after we showed everyone what we found, including coral snakes. The ones we found in Arizona were small and pretty so we took one home. That didn’t go well with Mom.
     
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  12. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    That's typical krait. When I'm getting them off the roads around here without my hook it's pure frustration as they just mosey along. A couple of times I've done a tail grab and they basically ignore me and dangle there. Not in the least bite happy. But I've also seen them in the late evenings in hunting mode becoming a cross between a croc and a western diamondback.
    It was a lesson in the potency of their venom one night. I saw movement on a dirt road across the river here. A krait had struck a small Ptyas. The ratter move a few inches then started wriggling spasmodically. In less than a minute it ceased all motion, dead or paralyzed. The krait just waited then slowly started eating.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
  13. Mordax8393

    Mordax8393 Arachnosquire Active Member

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    Kraits are some of my favorite snakes, and as you said, rather intellegent for a snake. But having a krait as a pet in the US is a HORRIBLE idea. First off all, they have very specific requirements that are difficult to replicate in captivity. Additionally they are one of the world's most toxic land snakes and are well known for being unpredictable. Depending on what species you get, if you get bit, you will most likely die in an hour or two, possibly even without realizing the bite occurred if you are not paying close attention, as krait bites (at least for most people) are completely painless, and because of their short fangs, a bite wound is almost invisible (although some people experience severe stomachaches). Also, if it escapes it could rather easily kill you. According to data gathered by the Madras Crocodile Bank, krait bites in India and Nepal often happen to people at night, who are sleeping on elevated beds on the second floor of a house. How? It is hypothesized that some species of krait, including B. caerulus, have a malfunctioning olfactory system that makes it confuse the scent of humans and rodents and come near sleeping humans to investigate. Once it realizes the human is not prey, it stays near the person for warmth. The person, feeling a touch in the night, swats at it without thinking, and the krait bites out of fear. Having a pet snake that killed the world expert on it (admittedly, wasn't really his fault as much as his student's) is not a great idea unless you are a professional with thousands of hours of experience with highly venomous snakes in captivity.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
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  14. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Pet. Having a pet. The difference between 'pet' and keeping an animal in an environment where both animal and keeper are content, thriving and healthy without one jeopardizing the other.
    It's actually relatively simple to keep a krait without endangering yourself. You simply have protocols and procedures which are rigidly followed to the letter without any variation or exception. Like working hyperal in a hospital or doing the pre-flight in the cockpit of a plane. You read those checklists and you follow them to the letter, even if you have read them 1000 times before. Complacency turns people into statistics.

    But admittedly, kraits cannot be kept safely where keeper and animal come into contact. It's sad because they are such personable, interesting animals. When not in hunting mode they don't act like any other animal I can think of. Calm, laconic, curious without being intrusive, like they live in a world all their own.
    When they let the kraits out at the snake farm to clean the containments, surreal best describes things. Just plop them out on the open floor and make a point of keeping your distance. They slowly mosey about ignoring the world around them entirely non-aggressive. When one wanders too far it gets hooked and moved back to the middle of the room. But no handling like they do with the Kaouthai and others. Always a hook. The snake just dangles on the hook, not even trying to get off it. What worries me is the guys usually have bare legs and are always wearing sandals.

    I was quite used to kraits being slow and non aggressive. Then one night a black and white was lying on the road. It was huge. 5 foot + and 2 1/2 inch thick body. I poked it's tail with an umbrella to get it moving and it did a 180 like lightning, casting about from side to side, looking for something to bite.
    Lesson learned. Two different personalities in one snake.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
  15. Mordax8393

    Mordax8393 Arachnosquire Active Member

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    I totally agree with you on the krait's amazing behaviors. A month or two back I got to watch a wild krait in India. (My first krait ever). Watched it for nearly 45 minutes, in which time it slowly cruised along a small dirt levee in a plantation, not showing any aggression or fear. Every few minutes it would investigate inside a hole for food. These are nearly King Cobra level in curiosity and calmness. Great snakes!

    Where are you based and what Krait sp. are you experienced with?
     
  16. Vanessa

    Vanessa Grammostola Groupie Arachnosupporter

    I think that they are all curious and intelligent as far as being calculating, but that is as far as I'll go. I don't believe that they have any empathy or genuine affection for us at all. Like almost every single other wild animal - they're either tolerant to interacting with us, or they aren't. I don't misinterpret their natural intelligence and curiosity, their need to explore their environments, their tolerance, as a direct result of being in my presence at all. Can they develop a different reaction for one person than another? Yes, but that isn't because they 'like' you more, it's because they fear you less.
     
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  17. Mordax8393

    Mordax8393 Arachnosquire Active Member

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    fully agree
     
  18. AzJohn

    AzJohn Arachnoking Old Timer

    I think you may be selling reptiles a little short. Recent studies have shown that reptiles are capable of much more than we used to give them credit for. Corn snakes have been shown to be able to recognize symbols in order to find the correct exit from an enclosure. Monitor lizards have been shown to be able to count to six. These along with the other studies sited in this thread should make us take a second look at reptile behavior.

    Take the taming process. How do you get defensive snake to not bite you? You teach it you won’t hurt it and show it by your actions that you can be trusted. This can take a while and sometimes it never works. It’s based on trust.

    My woma has learned that I will take him out and give him the mental stimuli of exploring a new place, so he leaves his hide and waits by the cage door when I’m working in the snake room.

    Milk snakes are a very active snake. When you handle one it spends its time trying to get to the ground. Younger ones can be very spazzy and will <edit> all over your hand if they feel threatened. In fact babies are rather notorious for doing this. They never sit still. I have a two milk snakes. Both are far from fully grown. One is a few months old the other about a year. Both like their chins rubbed. Rubbing their chins has changed their typical behavior. I started chin rubbing because I wanted to decrease their amount head shyness. Having a snake that isn’t head shy helps if you have a stuck eye cap or need to administer medication. It’s difficult to earn that trust because when a snake is eaten in the wild it is usually attacked from above and it’s head is usually the target. I keep doing it because they like it. My older one makes no attempt to escape when I remove him from his home. Once he’s out, he sits, coiled in my hand and doesn’t move at all. I can rub his chin, the side of his jaw, and the top of his head. He will stretch his neck out to allow me better access. I’ve only owned the younger one a few weeks so he trashes about when I first get him out. He spends most of our 10-15 minute handling sessions just crawling around my hands nonstop. When I start rubbing his chin he stops moving as long as I keep rubbing. Once I stop he’s back crawling everywhere. The point is, their natural inclination is to get to the ground. Naturally they jerk quickly away from any attempt to touch their head. My older milksnake has no head shyness at all and the younger one is fine as long as I stay under his chin. My actions have changed their normal behavior. My snakes aren’t the only ones that enjoy a chin rub, google it.

    I’m not saying they are as smart as a dog or cat. I’m just saying they are capable of “feeling” trust and enjoyment.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2019 at 12:59 AM
  19. Vanessa

    Vanessa Grammostola Groupie Arachnosupporter

    I never 'sell animals short', I just recognize and appreciate them for what they are capable of and not what I want them to be capable of. I don't value them any less, because they don't have any affinity towards me. How little they care about me personally has no effect on how much I care about them.
    I never disputed that snakes are intelligent, because some of them are very intelligent. Neither did I question their ability to learn whether a specific person poses less of a threat to them than another. What I refuse to believe, and will always refuse to believe, is that any wild animal (and very few domesticated ones) 'enjoy' our company. They tolerate us and they have no empathy towards us at all. That's why you should never take their reaction to you personally - whether they're biting you, or curled up in a ball on your lap. They don't ever do what they do based upon liking, or disliking, you.
     
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  20. Mordax8393

    Mordax8393 Arachnosquire Active Member

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    As far as I can tell @VanessaS and @AzJohn are in agreement - Snakes are certainly intelligent and can do many things, they can also learn to trust people and associate them with rewards. But I am sure we can all agree that they don't love you as an individual like your dog would.