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Why Is My Pet Snake Suddenly Aggressive? | VenomousSnake

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Why Is My Pet Snake Suddenly Aggressive? As enthusiastic and appreciative pet owners, we revel in the joy of having our slithery companions. Their captivating allure and mysterious charm can leave us mesmerized for hours on end. Picture this: you and your beloved snake, once the epitome of serenity, now displaying signs of aggression that leave you baffled and concerned.

Fear not, for in this informative exploration, we shall unravel the enigma behind your pet’s sudden change in temperament. Embark on a journey of understanding as we delve into the realms of snake behavior, potential triggers, and practical solutions, ultimately nurturing the bond between you and your reptilian companion. Get ready to demystify the secrets of your pet snake’s aggression and pave the way for a harmonious coexistence like never before!

Why Is My Pet Snake Suddenly Aggressive?

Why Is My Pet Snake Suddenly Aggressive?

A Kaleidoscope of Emotions: Like any living being, snakes are not devoid of emotions. While it’s easy to assume they lack the depth of feelings, their behavioral expressions often mirror their emotional states. Factors like environmental changes, health issues, and even past experiences can all influence their demeanor, leading to sudden alterations in their once-amicable demeanor. But fear not, dear reader, for understanding these emotions is the first step toward mending the bond with your reptilian confidante.

The Hidden Triggers: Beneath their seemingly aloof exterior, snakes respond to a plethora of hidden triggers that may lead to aggressive behavior. Environmental factors such as unsuitable habitat conditions, excessive noise, or even the introduction of unfamiliar scents may cause undue stress, pushing your serpent companion into a defensive mode. Delve into the depths of their world, and you’ll discover how to create a serene oasis for your beloved snake to thrive.

The Health Conundrum: Just like us, our reptilian friends can suffer from various health issues, ranging from infections to pain. When afflicted, they may manifest their discomfort through aggressive displays, seeking to protect themselves from further distress. Let us embark on a medical journey, exploring common ailments that could be driving your serpent’s sudden mood shift. Remember, addressing health concerns promptly can be the key to restoring the harmonious relationship you both yearn for.

The Behavioral Enigma: Decoding the language of snake behavior can be as riveting as cracking a cryptic code. We’ll demystify the intriguing signals snakes convey through body language, hisses, and strikes, offering you profound insights into their intentions and emotions. As you become fluent in their unique lexicon, you’ll be better equipped to respond to their needs and desires, enhancing your bond immeasurably.

Remedies and Reconciliation: Having journeyed through the labyrinth of snake psychology, it’s time to unveil the remedies and reconciliation strategies that will rekindle the warmth you once shared with your pet. From environmental adjustments to enrichment activities and positive reinforcement training, we’ll equip you with an arsenal of approaches to tame your aggressive serpent’s behavior and return to a life of joyous companionship.

Recognizing Signs of Aggression in Pet Snakes

Recognizing Signs of Aggression in Pet Snakes

An aggressive snake can be alarming, especially for new owners. The first question to ask yourself is whether what you are witnessing is actually an attack. There is a difference between an aggressive snake and a defensive snake, as all but a handful of snakes in the world are genuinely aggressive.

Typically, most snakes that feel threatened and defensive will display certain behaviors. As outlined in behavioral ecologythese behaviors are:

  • I hiss with the mouth open or closed
  • Bluff hitting, which is hitting with the mouth closed
  • Rising in the classic S pose
  • Raising the head back
  • Motion tracking up close
  • Striking tags, which are bites where the snake releases immediately after landing the bite
  • Hiding for unusual periods of time

There are some individual species of snake that have their own quirks when it comes to showing that they are angry too. Some common pet snakes with unique defensive and threat displays are:

  • Hognose Snakes, who puff out their bodies and spread their cheeks to appear larger than they actually are.
  • Bull Snakes, which will hiss very loudly and mimic cold inducing rattle of a rattlesnake rubbing their scales together.
  • Garter Snakes, which will release a smelly liquid called moss.

Many of the behaviors listed above can cause a snake to be mislabelled as aggressive when, in fact, they are fearful and acting defensive.

My pet snake keeps biting me

There are two reasons your snake might bite you:

  • Feels threatened/feared
  • Think you are food

The easiest way to determine what your snake is feeling is the type of bite. Snakes will only latch on and force out something they intend to eat. When your the snake bites youdoes it behave like this? If so, then it thinks you are food.

If the bluffing snake strikes or bites you and immediately disengages, it probably feels threatened and is trying to scare you. It’s important to identify reasons why your snake may feel compelled to defend itself.

Why the pet snakes feel threatened

Why the pet snakes feel threatened

Now that you know the signs of a defensive snake, let’s look at what might be making your snake feel this way.


Snakes of course shed their skin. Young snakes die every few weeks as they grow, while adult snakes die only a few times a year.

As snakes prepare to moult, their behavior will naturally change. In relation to suddenly defensive behavior, there are two reasons why they may be acting differently:

  • Uncomfortable: Snakes can feel uncomfortable before and during the moult. This can cause even the mildest pet snake to feel cranky and lash out.
  • In blue: In the days leading up to moulting, a snake’s eyes will become cloudy with a cloudy bluish-white color. This is called being “in blue” and is normal for snakes, as is a change in behavior, while in this state snakes cannot see clearly and are therefore more anxious and defensive.

It’s best to leave them alone and not handle them during the moult, and their behavior will return to normal once they get out the other side.

Custody issues

Snake enclosures need to be properly set up and maintained for your individual snake’s needs. Each species has different requirements. As an example of the diversity of needs among species, the table below shows the different temperature ranges and enclosure sizes required for just five of the most common pet snakes.

Snake species Temperature range Enclosure size for adults
Ball python: 88-96 F 40 gallons
Western hognose snake: 70 – 90F 20 gallons
bull snake: 80 – 85 F 60 gallons
Corn Snake: 75-92F 20 gallons
Snake King: 76 – 86 F 60 gallons

Elements of the enclosure that may have caused your snake’s behavior to change include the following:

  • Temperature gradients: Enclosures must have an adequate temperature gradient so that they can heat up and cool down.
  • Humidity: Are the humidity levels in the wardrobe optimal? Alternatively, do you have a suitable sized humidity box?
  • Hides AND scalable objects: All enclosures should have at least two skins for the snake to feel safe. If your snake is semi- or fully arboreal, it will need objects, such as branches, to climb.
  • Attached to measure: Is the enclosure of an appropriate size so that the snake living there can move freely without feeling overwhelmed?
  • Attached position: Is the enclosure kept in a quiet location free of airborne irritants?
  • substrate: You have the right substrate for your snake? Some species, such as the Hognose, like to dig and require a substrate that is adapted to this behaviour.

Illness or injury

Any injured or sick animal will display atypical behavior, including defensive displays. Snakes are no exception. Signs of illness or injury to look for are:

  • Loss of appetite and drastic weight loss
  • Breathing through the mouth and/or irregular, humid sounding breaths,
  • Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth
  • Shedding problems. Snakes shed their old skin all at once, if your snake sheds its skin in sections, he’s done it blocked eye capsor the underlying skin looks sore, this may indicate that the snake is sick
  • Discolored, damaged, or loose scales
  • Open wounds, infections and burns
  • Lethargy or movement problems

Territorial response

Only a few species of snakes, such as the garter snake, can be safely hosted together outside the breeding season.

In fact, almost all snake species live in solitude. Therefore, housing more than one snake in a single enclosure can cause one or both animals to feel defensive and potentially become aggressive. Collisions can also occur, resulting in injury or death.

Some snake species, including the commonly kept king snake, will actively do this they eat their tank mates when housed with another snake.

As a common rule, only one snake should be kept in each enclosure.

Food response

One thing every snake owner appreciates is when their pet is a good eater. Snakes can be so eager for their meals that, at times, they might appear aggressive to inexperienced owners.

This form of “aggression” is shown by the snake immediately attempting to bite, not bite, anything it may associate with food entering its enclosure. This commonly results in biting the owner’s hand. The snake, if it doesn’t immediately realize its mistake, can also wrap itself around what it is trying to kill.

Thankfully, this isn’t a true sign of aggression. Rather, this is simply an overactive feeding response that is exacerbated by the snake associating violating its enclosure with receiving food.

Dealing with aggression in pet snakes

Aggression in pet snakes can manifest for various reasons, and it’s crucial to determine the underlying cause to address it effectively. Here are some steps you can take to deal with aggression in your pet snake:

  1. Observe and Identify Triggers: Pay close attention to your snake’s behavior and try to identify specific triggers that may be causing the aggression. Common triggers can include handling, disturbances in their enclosure, changes in environment, or feeling threatened.
  2. Provide a Secure Environment: Ensure that your snake’s enclosure is set up appropriately, providing them with a secure and comfortable habitat. A well-designed enclosure with proper hiding spots, suitable temperatures, and adequate space can reduce stress and decrease aggressive tendencies.
  3. Handle with Care: Handling a snake requires patience and gentle touch. If your snake is showing signs of aggression, give them some space and time to calm down. Avoid handling them when they are in a defensive or aggressive posture, as this may escalate the situation.
  4. Avoid Quick Movements and Loud Noises: Sudden movements or loud noises can startle and stress your pet snake, leading to aggressive behavior. Maintain a calm and quiet environment around their enclosure.
  5. Regular Feeding Schedule: Ensure that your snake is on a regular feeding schedule to minimize potential hunger-related aggression. Provide appropriate-sized prey items and avoid handling them for at least 48 hours after a meal.
  6. Seek Professional Help: If your snake’s aggression persists or worsens, it’s essential to seek advice from a qualified veterinarian or a reptile behaviorist. They can provide personalized guidance and help determine if there are any underlying health issues contributing to the aggression.
  7. Positive Reinforcement: Encourage positive behavior in your snake through gentle handling and positive reinforcement. Reward them with treats or praise when they exhibit calm behavior.
  8. Be Patient and Persistent: Dealing with aggression in pet snakes may take time and patience. Avoid getting frustrated and remain consistent in your efforts to create a stress-free environment for your pet.

Remember, each snake is unique, and the process of addressing aggression may vary from one individual to another. Always prioritize the safety and well-being of both yourself and your pet snake.

Regular handling and socialization

A snake will bite you because it thinks you are predator or prey. The key step here is to teach your snake that you are neither of these things, and this is done through regular handling and proper socialization.

Other than when your snake is shed or has just eaten, begin desensitizing it to human contact and breaking that predator/prey association by handling it with 10-15 minute handling sessions twice a day.

To hold a snake so it feels supported, hold it by the thickest section of its center and wrap it over your hand and arm. Do not restrict its movements or squeeze it, as this can cause the snake to become even more defensive. Avoid holding the snake by the neck or tail, as this makes the snakes feel like it has no way out.

No matter how old your snake is, regular handling and socialization can do wonders for calming and taming upset snakes.

Break the Hand Equals Food Association

If your snake thinks your hand is food or associates you opening the enclosure with feeding, there are steps you can take to break this association. You can:

  • Interact with the snake regularly outside of feeding sessions
  • Use a snake hook to remove it from the fence
  • Make sure your hands are clean and don’t smell like food

Cabinet location and configuration

Finding the source of your snake’s behavior change often involves making at least one adjustment to the enclosure.

Fixing issues, such as providing an adequate basking spot or adequately sized hide, can ease a snake’s anxiety. Providing a hide, with a reptile cave or hollowed out log, will allow the snake to feel safe. It is important that your snake has a source of enrichment that it would find in nature.

Sudden changes in the way your snake behaves can be alarming. However, few snakes become aggressive without provocation. Rather, they are acting defensively and these displays may seem aggressive to those who are inexperienced with snake ownership.


 Why has my usually docile pet snake become aggressive?There can be several reasons for sudden aggression in pet snakes. It could be due to stress, illness, changes in environment, improper handling, or feeling threatened.

 What are some common signs of aggression in snakes?

Aggressive behavior in snakes may include hissing, striking, biting, displaying defensive postures, and refusing to be handled.

 Can health issues cause aggression in snakes?Yes, illness or discomfort could lead to aggression in snakes. It’s essential to rule out any underlying health problems by consulting a reptile veterinarian.


Wow! We’ve embarked on an extraordinary journey exploring the enigmatic world of our slithering companions, and what an exhilarating ride it has been! Unraveling the mystery behind your suddenly aggressive pet snake has been nothing short of captivating, and now, armed with knowledge and understanding, you’re all set to transform your scaly friend’s behavior!

Let us venture forth, hand in scale, united by our shared passion and adoration for these captivating creatures. Remember the words inscribed upon these virtual scrolls and take them to heart as you embark on this newfound voyage with your pet snake. May your bond grow stronger, and your understanding deeper, with every twist and turn of this extraordinary tale.

Thank you, intrepid readers, for joining us on this captivating journey! We look forward to your return to Venomous blog, where enthralling revelations and captivating stories await. Until then, let us bask in the delight of knowing that we have unlocked yet another secret of the venomous realm!