View Full Version : First bite: new habit, or bad day?

05-25-2005, 09:06 AM
Well, my burmese got me for the first time this morning. He is in a 55 gallon tank that has an extension on top as his hide box. He was in the hide box and I went to get him out. I did the normal rubbing down his head and back to let him know that I was getting him out, and he latched onto my forearm. I just let him hang on until he let go, and he did in about 20 seconds. He just stayed curled up around the edge for a minute, then slid back in his box. Is this something that he may start doing all the time, or is it normal for burmese to act out once in a while? I've had red-tail boas my whole life, and been bit a few times, but it was always something that I did carelessly like having a rat smell on my hands, or waking them or something like that. This time, I think I was proper in everything. I should also mention that I don't feed him in his tank, I put him in a large Rubbermaid container to feed so that he won't associate hands with food. He hasn't been handled in about two weeks, but he has gone that long before, and been fine when I got him out again. He is about 5 ft, around a year old, and ate about a week and a half ago. He is always very alert, and quick moving. When any of us are near his tank, he is constantly moving around watching us. Does he sound normal overall, or should I change some habits?

Greg Riso
05-25-2005, 09:56 AM
use a hook to get your burm's attention rather than your hand to avoid getting tagged again. Now that it's getting bigger it may need to be fed larger food items than you're used to feeding. I'm thinking it may have just been hungry and in anticipation of being removed to go into it's feeding tub decided it was ready to eat NOW lol. I raise several retics and while they are very docile most of the time when it comes to the feeding mode their attitude changes completely. I find most animals as a rule become more aggressive when hungry which is only natural.
For now I'd definitely suggest you start using a hook for removal rather than your hands unless you don't mind getting bitten.

Jim O
05-25-2005, 10:37 AM
I agree with Greg 100%. With any big boid, you are running the risk of being struck when you put your hand in the enclosure. They have heat pits and respond to heat as much as or more than they do to smell. You need to use a hook. I do it with small snakes too and "train" them that the hook means they are going to be handled, not fed.

One piece of advice I would strongly suggest. Start feeding the snake in its enclosure. A five foot snake can be handled easily, but I would NOT want to handle a hungry 12 foot python who knows it is being moved to be fed. That is a prescription for disaster. I keep scrub pythons and would NEVER want to deal with a hungry one bare handed in its enclosure.

Now I know there are a lot of people who will disagree with this. There is no right and wrong. That's just my opinion.

My snakes "know" that the hook means they are coming out of the enclosure to be handled or moved or for cage maintenance. They are fed in the enclosure so that is their "territory" and anything in it is "fair game". It works well for me. My collection is very large and if I had to move every animal for feeding I would spend 24/7 feeding so that is a part of it, but honestly, I would do it the same way if I only had a few snakes to feed.

05-26-2005, 02:28 PM
I must say that you should never reach into your burms cage without a snake hook or a set of tongs. Also, I would feed your burm in his cage and not transfer him to another container. As he gets bigger you will find it much harder to transport him. The bigger he gets the larger the meals get and you should not handle your snake for 24 hours after a meal. I think if you use the snake hook to let him know that it is you and not food and feed him in his enclosure you will be just fine. They are awesome snakes and they get BIG! Another thing to remember is that when you go to feed him, do use the snake hook. This works with retics and I never had a porblem with the burms as well. Good luck and enjoy.


05-26-2005, 06:25 PM
another piece of this is that your burm is now in a major growth phase. It can be compared to the "terrible two's". During this phase, all they want to do is eat and grow. When the cage opens, it means food. frequently they are temperamental. keep him fed well, and follow the advice in the previous posts about handling. he'll "grow" out of it.

05-26-2005, 11:51 PM
Thanks guys. In this growth phase, are 2 large rats a month enough? I don't want to powerfeed, but I don't want to underfeed either. Should I step it up a bit?

05-27-2005, 06:55 AM
IMO, you would both be happier with weekly feedings at this point.

that said, just out of curiosity...were you talking about 2 large rats once a month, or 1 large rat twice a month?

05-31-2005, 08:25 PM
I meant one large rat twice a month. Apparently, he was hungry. I gave him 2 large rats today, and he took them each within 10 seconds of being near them.

He is still very quick and attentative when I go anywhere near his enclosure. My red-tails have always been very docile, not this guy. Are all burms this way, or did I just luck out? I love the fact that he's active, but is it that he's always hungry and looking for food, or is he just happy as hell exploring the same area over and over? :rofl:

I don't mind the occassional bite, that's what snakes do, but I would like to keep them minimal as possible, especially since I have a daughter in the house, and I want my wife to eventually handle them as well. If she keeps seeing bite marks on my arm, she'll NEVER handle one.

06-01-2005, 08:43 AM
well, I'll stand by my previous statement about being happier with weekly feedings. he will be an eating machine til he puts on a foot or three. If he is that active, I would say that he is either hungry or wanting something (ie a good place to relax). Take the time to check temperatures throughout the cage...he should settle in for at least a few days after a good meal - if the temps are too high, he may just be looking for a cooler spot.

06-05-2005, 02:51 PM
I agree with the weekly feeding. I just sold a 6 footer and even with big weekly meals he still acted like he wanted more. I always used a hook to calm him down after opening the doors to his cage and I never had a problem, and he had a retic like feeding response. Just use something besides your hand when you open that door. I always block their head with a hook also when picking them up. Hook in one hand and another hand grabbing about a foot behind the head when I have him and starting to pull him out I drop the hook and all is good. I just brough home a baby granite yesterday and he grabbed a hold of me and it wasn't just a strike he didn't let go and coiled himself around my hand i had to pry his mouth open by sticking a spoon between my finger and his lower jaw to get him off. That was my fault though, Don't pet a cat before you handle a new snake. :) My other burm and retic both know the cat smell and it doesn't effect them at all so I got spoiled and careless.