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Old 03-23-2007, 12:52 PM   #1
African Rocks!!!

Wondering if anyone has an AfRock thats handleable- We've got one thats mean as snot but beautiful- been handled pretty regularly- and handled by me everyday so far.... any tips? hopeless? advice please
Old 03-23-2007, 02:40 PM   #2
The one that you have, how big and also how old??? Also what kind of setup is it in and whats it eating ect. Rocks are way more intelligent than most people think/give them credit for. Basically give me as much info as you can and I will give you my most educated opinion on why its aggressive, and if it is going to change. That being said, every snake is an individual and can be totally different. I personally love african rocks and have never had a rough time with one ever. I myself have owned a couple rocks(one is actually the picture under my name on the left), all tamer than a ball or a burm and a lot smarter as well, my good friend has a humongous tame female, and I also did rescue and worked with several tame ones there as well. I have heard of aggressive ones and seen some, but I myself have never been bitten by one. Well, I hope to here from you, Dan M. If you want to talk in further detail than thru post feel free to email me as well @ Take care.
Old 03-23-2007, 07:36 PM   #3
Originally Posted by Rescue_Herps
Wondering if anyone has an AfRock thats handleable- We've got one thats mean as snot but beautiful- been handled pretty regularly- and handled by me everyday so far.... any tips? hopeless? advice please
I wouldn't say it is hopeless at all. I have kept a number of rocks over the years - many were rescues that were re-homed once the animals were "rehabbed". Just about all of them were described as "mean" or "aggressive" when they came to me...only one stayed that way. Do you know anything about the history of this snake? (WC or CB, approx age, how it has been handled in the past, etc) How big is it? Perhaps most important - what do you consider "mean as snot"?

My personal approach sort of contradicts what is often preached on forums: MINIMIZE HANDLING. Don't handle it every day. In fact, for a while, avoid all but necessary contact (necessary for cage maintenance and animal care). When you do have to handle the snake, do so gently and without forcibly restraining it. If the snake is small enough to manage with hooks, use them - eliminate contact entirely for a little while. (I'm out of time, so I will let you ponder the reasoning for that)
Old 03-26-2007, 03:06 PM   #4
We've only had him a short time- less than a week. The previous owners had him in a nice set up- pleanty of room a few branches to rest on and a curved driftwood branch that was wide enough for him to lay across- like a shelf almost. When I got there, I helped the owner take him out of his cage- that wasn't as hard as I had imagined. The owner told me that when he was moving the cage outside, the snake bit himself 3 times trying to get the owner. When I got him home, I used a hook and slooooowly pulled him out of the cage, he was fine until i put my palm under his belly to support him- i did so very slowly so i didn't scare him. when i touched his belly, he swung around and got my leg- (thank god for heavy jeans) I grabbed him- not quite behind his head but down a bit further- I don't like using a lot of force with snakes- i think they remember when you do that (my husband grabbed a large burm and held tightly for a bit while we tried to bag him and to this day the snake will only strike at my husband). I had the snake a little below his head- he could still 'get' me but i moved around when he tried. We put him in his cage. the snake is 7-8 ft. pretty heafty around. The owners said he went off feed for the winter- so he's not eaten yet- will probably try him next week on 'food day'. He is CB. and around 7-8 years old.
**Cage setup**
7ft high, 4ft wide, 2 ft deep
several branches and one shelf. 2 hides- one close to the top hung from the wall- one sitting on the bottom of the cage. Big water dish- big enough to soak in.
Temps: ambient is around 80-83 (depending on time of day- the house temp changes and affects the cages- monitored closely) Basking spot of 87 (also vairies 2-3 degrees through the day) and drops around 77-79 at night.

"mean as snot" Definition:
The owner said he bit himself 3 times trying to bite the handler. When I took him out of the crate- similar experience, I'm a bit calmer than most people that are on the wrong end of teeth. He's very vocal about NOT being handled- as soon as the cage opens- you can hear the hiss across the house.

I have handled him 3 times in the last week. The third time was the best- only struck twice. He's been left alone now to settle in.
Handled #1 to put in cage (day 1)
handled #2 made a mess in cage- needed cleaned (day 2- dumped water)
handled #3- water change and testing the waters a bit- didn't actually take him out of the cage, just touched his outer coil gently. (day 5- yesterday)

so long as we don't dump any more water over- he'll be left alone for a bit except to change the water tomarrow- but he hangs out at the top of the cage near the basking spot (not directly under it) He's at the highest point of the cage- He also gets ontop of the upper hide box- he likes being high. The water is at the bottom. He was down cruising around yesterday- got a drink and soaked a bit after I changed the water. (and after I woke him from his beauty sleep)

any other questions? I think i covered everything....
Old 03-26-2007, 03:47 PM   #5
My first instinct is that he wasnt really well cared for as far as feeding goes. It seems to me that he is way too small for his age, my last male was by no means big and he was well over 10 feet by three years of age, although not growing much other than around at that point. The only way he could be that small with proper care perhaps is if he is not P. Sebae, but P. Natalensis (forgive my spelling if incorrect) which tend to be smaller in my understanding. Even then I thought they got to at least nine feet, but I may be wrong.

If it were me I would get rid of some of the height in the cage, african rocks are not typically arboreal, and eye level with an aggressive snake is never a good idea if it can be avoided, without sacrificing something important to the animal. I would say at that age he is fairly set in his ways, but with patience and consistancy he may get better. If he learns to associate you with positive experiances he may let his guard down a bit after a while. I agree with Harald in the minimizing of the handleing. Less is more with a lot of snakes. Snakes like african rocks will never enjoy handling, they just learn not to fear it or to tolerate it. The less they have to deal with the happier they will be. A lot of rocks bluff, but obliviously this one is willing to back it up. Does he hiss every time you go near him, or just sometimes. If it is only sometimes perhaps you could leave him alone times when he hisses and respect his space, unless absolutely neccesary to get in there right away, and the times when he doesnt to take him out. He may learn that if he isnt in the mood he can let you know, and you guys can come to an understanding. Thats where I was with one of my males and it worked great, never a problem. The one time I had to take him out though he did go for me, and I took it in stride...I messed up the system, not him. All in all give him ample time to settle in, get back on food and just get used to you guys. Try to do things in the room close enough for him to see you, but not as to stress him out. All my rocks have loved to watch everything I do and the better they know you, the more comfortable they seem to be. You can also try putting a shirt or something of yours that smells like you in his cage near his favorite spots, so that he associates your smell with being content, that helps on occasion. All in all every animal is an individual and will react differently in every situation, but these are all things that have worked for me in the past with much success(as far as my rocks have gone), and may work for you. Good luck, and if you get pictures or have updates I would love to see them/hear them respectively. Dan M.
Old 03-26-2007, 03:52 PM   #6
Oh and I forgot to mention about the CB thing... I would doubt he is CB, there are very few captive bred rocks as it is now, but a few years back(7-8) I would think it even less likely. I am not calling you a liar by any means, but the previous owners may have been told that or just said that he was. I would think he was CH at best. Once again, I may be wrong, but its a slim chance in my opinion. Dan M.
Old 03-26-2007, 09:11 PM   #7
I have a few other cages he might enjoy better- we are building cages right now- actually - i'm online and my dear husband is building cages. so we'll be re-arranging A LOT this weekend. the Sav. needs a bigger cage, the IGs are moving to thier indoor/outdoor cages, so moving him to a shorter cage isn't a biggie- there isnt a way to modify that cage itself. It's the only 'decorative' cage in the house-
He doesn't hiss everytime im around- just on occasion- i changed his water earlier and he moved his head around and watched. then put his head back down when i closed the cage- didnt make a peep. he is in an area that he can see me move around and he does get down on the shelf thats about waist level with me and watch.
I don't know if he was CB or WC. I have a general info sheet for when i get new guys in- helps me not have to play the guessing game when i get home. it does't say CB or WC (i'll be adding that) it askes for age, and how long the animal has been in captivity. both say 7-8 years.
The owners had several other snakes that appeared healthy. a large burm and a few RTBs- good weights, no parasites, nothing like that.
I'm thinking they might have been a bit off on the age- would explain the small size a bit. They did say that all thier snakes stop eating in the winter- not sure if thats the snakes idea or the owners. I didn't think to ask any about it- since we don't let anything just stop eating in the winter. he's by no means skinny. he's properly proportioned head size v.s. body size- he's very strong as well.

Thank you for all your help. We'll move him into a different inclosure this weekend most likely. He does like being high up though. he'll just have to be high up in a shorter cage. hehehehe
Old 03-26-2007, 09:30 PM   #8
I would tend to agree with the idea of a shorter cage, but only because it puts him in a superior position...and you at a distinct disadvantage. While not "arboreal" snakes, Afrocks will certainly take advantage of climbing facilities. As noted by the OP, they also like to be in the highest spot they can get to.

7-8 ft long and pretty hefty just doesn't sound like a rock. They are generally lighter bodied than burms - though I suppose that descriptor (hefty) would depend upon the animals with which you are accustomed to working. Also, as Dan said, that is on the small side for even a male Afrock of that age. Is it a male or female? Any chance you could post pics?

As for it being CB, I know that a few of the big names worked with rocks in the 90s (VPI, NERD, Bob Clark) - but by the time this one would have hatched, VPI was pretty much out of them and I think NERD was doing less also. That doesn't rule it out, but it is every bit as likely that it was an import...which, quite frankly, doesn't make a bit of difference, IMO. As previously mentioned, I have worked with a lot of WC rocks, including fresh imports of that size (or larger) and, for the most part, they have settled into calm/predictable captives. Of course, if it IS that old and CB, you may be SOL, lol (how much do you trust what the previous owner told you?).

On the subject of P.natalensis (when I was working with rocks, they were officially a ssp of P sebae), it is possible - that can be determined with pictures that clearly show the head scalation & pattern, and the patterning on the tail.

**edit: I just realized that I had not commented on my experience with rocks in this thread...that was on another forum. Sorry.
Old 03-26-2007, 10:04 PM   #9
I know what Rocks are and what they look like. Its a rock. I don't know from what local its from.
The owners may (probably) have been off on the age.
by heafty- I mean not emaciated. I should have said stout instead- sorry.
most of what we have are truely large snakes- burms bigger around than my leg and upwards of 15 ft. The rock is 7-8 ft. long and stout. he's proportioned properly. His head size matches his body size. meaning he isn't obese or emaciated. He's very muscular. He is thinner than a burm of that size would be, yes.

There are several things that need photos taken of them- i may end up buying a new camera so i can get some pics up. maybe someone can tell me where he's from.

we will move him to a shorter cage this weekend. I would move him tonight but I don't want to mess with him a lot. He's already been messed with more than I usually would- he's been a bit messy.
thank you
Old 03-26-2007, 10:41 PM   #10
Based on my experiences with them, I doubt it was the rock's idea to go off food for the winter unless they were being kept without heat (even in that case, many rocks will continue to feed at temps in the low-mid 70s), but it is possible. At the temps you listed, you should have no problems getting him to eat.

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