Understanding Snake Care: Do Snakes Need Attention?

When we think of pets, cuddly cats and loyal dogs often come to mind. However, the world of pet ownership goes far beyond the realm of traditional companions. For some, the fascination lies in the enigmatic and mesmerizing world of snakes. 

As snake ownership continues to gain popularity, a crucial question arises: do snakes need attention, and if so, what kind of attention do they require? 

Snakes do not require emotional attention in the same way that dogs or cats do. However, this does not mean they can be completely neglected. The kind of attention snakes need involves proper care, including a suitable habitat, feeding, health checks, and a secure environment from their owners.

Keep reading to learn more about what kind of attention snakes need and how to provide it.

Do Snakes Need Attention?

Unlike cats and dogs, snakes do not require the same kind of emotional attention or social interaction from their owners. Snakes are solitary and independent creatures by nature, and they do not form bonds with humans in the same way as more social animals.

Cats and dogs have evolved to be domesticated and are often considered companions, relying on human interaction for emotional support, affection, and mental stimulation. They seek attention from their owners and can display behaviors like purring, wagging tails, or seeking physical contact to express their desire for interaction and affection.

On the other hand, snakes have a different set of needs and behaviors. They are cold-blooded reptiles that primarily focus on survival instincts, such as finding food, and shelter, and regulating their body temperature. They do not have the same brain structures or emotional capabilities as mammals like cats and dogs, so they do not form emotional attachments to humans.

However, this does not mean that snakes should be completely neglected. While they don’t need emotional attention, they do require proper care, husbandry, and a well-maintained environment to thrive. 

What Kind of Attention Do Snakes Need?

Snakes primarily need attentive care rather than emotional attention like other pets. 

Here’s what you can do to provide this kind of care:

  • Habitat: Create an appropriate enclosure with enough space to move, hide, and climb. Use the right substrate and provide hiding spots.
  • Temperature and Humidity: Maintain proper temperature and humidity levels as per the species’ requirements using heating elements and water dishes.
  • Feeding: Offer a diet suitable for the snake’s species and size. Feed pre-killed prey or frozen-thawed rodents to avoid injuries.
  • Health Monitoring: Regularly check for signs of illness, injury, or abnormal behavior. Seek veterinary care when necessary.
  • Environmental Enrichment: Add objects like branches and rocks for climbing, providing mental stimulation.
  • Limited Handling: Handle snakes only when necessary to avoid stress. Use gentle techniques, to support their body properly.
  • Safety: Ensure a secure enclosure with tight-fitting lids to prevent escapes.

By fulfilling these aspects of attentive care, you can maintain the health and well-being of your pet snake. 

Do Snakes Like to Be Touched?

a photo of a snake being pet to show do snakes need attention

Snakes do not enjoy being touched. Unlike some other pets like cats or dogs, snakes do not have the capacity to experience emotions or form social bonds. 

When snakes are touched or handled, it can be stressful for them. They may perceive the interaction as a threat or an attempt to capture them, leading to defensive behaviors like hissing, biting, or trying to escape. 

While some snakes may tolerate handling to some extent, it is essential to respect their natural instincts and limit interactions to situations where it is necessary for their health or well-being, such as during cleaning, health checks, or when they require medical attention.

When to NOT Touch Your Snake

There are several situations when you should avoid touching your snake:

  • During Shedding: Snakes can become more sensitive during shedding. Avoid handling them during this time as it may cause discomfort or even result in injury to their delicate new skin.
  • After Feeding: Refrain from handling your snake for at least 48 hours after it has eaten. Handling too soon after feeding can lead to regurgitation, which is stressful for the snake and can negatively impact its health.
  • During Stressful Situations: If your snake seems stressed, such as after moving to a new enclosure or being exposed to loud noises or other disturbances, give it time to acclimate and settle down before attempting to handle it.
  • During Illness: If your snake shows signs of illness, avoid handling it and seek veterinary care immediately. Handling a sick snake can exacerbate its condition and lead to further stress.
  • When It Displays Defensive Behavior: If your snake exhibits signs of defensive behavior, such as hissing, striking, or coiling tightly, it’s best to leave it alone.
  • During Pregnancy: If you suspect your female snake is gravid (carrying eggs), avoid handling her as it may cause stress and disrupt the incubation process.

How to Properly Handle Your Snake?

Properly handling your snake is essential for both your safety and the well-being of your pet. Here are some guidelines to follow when handling a snake:

  • Wash Hands: Before handling your snake, wash your hands with mild soap and warm water to remove any scents that might alarm the snake.
  • Approach Calmly: Approach the snake calmly and confidently, avoiding sudden movements that may startle or stress the snake.
  • Support the Body: Use both hands to support the snake’s body properly. One hand should be positioned about one-third of the way down the snake’s body, while the other hand supports the tail end.
  • Avoid Squeezing: Do not squeeze or grip the snake tightly, as this can cause stress and discomfort.
  • Keep It Low: When lifting the snake, keep it close to the ground or the surface it’s on to prevent potential falls.
  • Limit Handling Time: Keep handling sessions short, especially for young or shy snakes, to minimize stress.
  • Watch for Stress Signs: Be attentive to signs of stress, such as rapid breathing, hissing, or defensive postures. If the snake appears agitated, gently return it to its enclosure.
  • Avoid the Head: Avoid handling the snake’s head, especially near the mouth, to prevent accidental bites.
  • Do Not Handle After Feeding: As mentioned earlier, avoid handling your snake for at least 48 hours after it has eaten to reduce the risk of regurgitation.
  • Have a Safe Area: Always handle your snake in a secure and controlled environment, preferably over a soft surface to prevent injuries in case of accidental drops.

If you are unsure about handling your snake or have concerns about its behavior, consult with a knowledgeable reptile veterinarian or a reputable reptile expert for guidance.

How Often Should You Handle Your Snake?

The frequency of handling your snake depends on several factors, including the species, age, temperament, and individual preferences of the snake. 

As a general guideline:

  • For young or newly acquired snakes, it’s best to limit handling to a minimum. Allow them time to acclimate to their new environment and reduce stress. Short handling sessions once or twice a week are sufficient.
  • As snakes become more accustomed to their surroundings and handling, you can increase the frequency to a few times a week if they tolerate it well.

Regardless of age or species, it’s essential to keep handling sessions relatively short, usually 10-15 minutes, to avoid undue stress.


In conclusion, while snakes do not need emotional attention in the same way as cats and dogs, they do need responsible care and attention from their owners to ensure their physical well-being and health. 

Providing the right environment and meeting their specific needs will lead to a content and healthy pet snake.

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