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Jessi shows you how to gently and safely hold several different kinds of small and medium sized snakes.

Fundraiser for Cavy Enclosure expansion:

*Snake warning

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      I'm Jessi, and we're here at Animal Wonders! The more I work with animals and people, I've come to realize that certain things come naturally to some while they completely escape others.

     I love sharing our animals with people, and one of my favorite things is when we bring a snake to a presentation and I get to give a child her very first experience holding one of these amazing animals.

     But more that half of the people that I have hold the snake, they don't intuitively know what they're doing. Half of them try and hold on, squeeze like this like the snake's gonna slip through their fingers, or they try and cradle them like a kitten.

     Today we're gonna learn about how to properly handle a snake.

     How many of you have watched another person try and catch a snake? And they'll usually go about it one of two ways; they'll try to grab it by its tail and let its head and body dangle, or they'll try and grab it by its head, only to get a sharp lesson in a snake's defense mechanisms.

     With each new encounter teaching my son how to manage living in this world, I'm reminded that we don't come into this world knowing very much. We pretty much have to learn everything, and it's always acceptable (even preferred) to ask questions.

     This is Saphron, and he is a Butter Corn Snake (pantherophis guttatus), and he is one of the teachers that has helped my son learn how to handle snakes.

     I don't remember when I actually learned how to hold a snake, I think it was in my early years watching other people catch northern garter snakes in the backyard, but my first hands-on experience was with a 12-foot Burmese python. But let's not start there.

     Today, let's focus on small to medium sized snakes. That's the most common size oyu're gonna encounter, unless you're a zookeeper or the friend of a large snake owner.

     So first, what you want to do is you wanna assess the type of snake you have. This is Sandy, the Kenya sand boa (gongylophis colubrinus). She's a very slow mover and she spends most of her time hidden in a burrow, waiting for her prey to walk by so she can ambush it.

     So, knowing that, you wouldn't want to put your hand right in front of her face to try and pick her up. Instead, you want to approach her from behind, let her know you're there, and then go ahead and gently lift her up.

     Now, I don't just want to pick her up without supporting her body. You want to use two hands and support every third of her body, so about where her "chest" would be and her lower abdomen. You can also use your arms and wrists to help her get comfortable.

     The important thing to remember is that you don't want to squeeze them, hold onto them like you would a guinea pig or a cat or even a lizard. Instead, you want them to rest their body on you while you support their movements.

     But there are also other kinds of snakes, snakes that are terrestrial and move quickly. This is Phineas and he's a corn snake (pantheropphis guttatus). He does not like to hold still like Sandy.

     You still need to support every third of his body, but you have to it while he's moving around. And sometimes using your arm can help support him, or you can support several places with one hand, like that.

     This is Carlos, he's a Sinaloan milk snake (lampropeltis triangulum sinaloae) and he is also, like a corn snake, terrestrial, moves quickly in a straight line...

     I need to be more cautious with him because their natural instinct— they can just bite, not necessarily strike, but bite while you're handling them. I want to make sure I make slow, calm, smooth movements with him so I don't make him uneasy and don't... entice him to bite me.

     Now this is Serpentine, she's a rubber boa (charina bottae). I call her Tina for short. Tina is one of my favorite animals to share with a young child because she's really easy.

     She's a clinger (that's not a technical term, that's my term), she clings onto things and she just kind of sits and relaxes, you can see how she just wraps around my fingers.

     I love sharing her with kids. She's a calm, easygoing snake. These guys do not strike, so there's no danger of them biting you or anybody else.

     So the best way to hold a "clinger" like Tina here is to just position them on your hand, let them do all the work. If you're gonna work toward larger snakes like a ball python and up, they're going to start taking up more and more of your arm.

     If they try and climb up your arm and go up to your shoulder, just gently reposition their head like that to a more appropriate place.

     Don't let them get up onto your shoulders, even if they insist. Just keep positioning, you want to keep them away from youtrvulneravle neck. Off your shoulders, on your arms and on your hands.

     Now, I know snakes bother some people, but I love when we are showing a snake to a family and a parent doesn't like snakes, but they watch their child learn about a snake, hold a snake for the first time, and their curiosity finally overcomes their fear and they are the ones eventually holding the snake for the very first time. I love that part of my job.

     Thank you guys for watching, I hope this helps you become more comfortable around snakes. We love teaching people, we love helping animals and right now we're working really hard to help two amazing animals that are so special to us, they're ambassadors just like Tina, and we are working hard to raise money to help give them a new home, a larger home where they'll be happy and healthy.
     There are just a few days left and we need your help to reach our goal. This is a very personal project we've been working in for two years and we're so, so close to making this really happen. If you would like to learn all about the project there's a video right here, you can find the fundraiser link below, and thank you again for watching!
     You can find me throughout the week on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, or you can subscribe to our channel Animal Wonders Montana, have a nice week, guys!

     Chili Pepper wants a new home! We're not above begging! You ready?
     Pretty pretty pleease?