Snakes are cold-blooded reptiles that are notorious for living by their instincts. So, you may naturally wonder whether or not they have feelings or exhibit emotions. I decided to conduct some research. I’d like to provide it with you here today.
So, do snakes have feelings? Snakes have basic feelings. They do not have complicated feelings and emotions like humans. Many pet snake owners claim their snake shows them affection, but that is a mere opinion and cause for speculation. While snakes can show satisfaction for their living conditions; they primarily live by instinct and for survival.
There are over 3,600 species of snakes in the world; around 375 known species of venomous snake exist, and of that number, only a small fraction is a threat to humans.
Snakes range in size and are as little as four inches (like the Barbados thread snake) to over 390 inches in length (like the reticulated python).
Most snakes that exist would not make suitable pets – as they are too unmanageable and display too much aggression to humans. But what about their feelings and emotions?
Let us now explore the topic in further depth so you can understand the kind of relationship you can potentially have with a pet snake and what you can expect from them,
Do Snakes Have Emotions?
Reptiles can show affection to their owners; however, the jury is out on snakes whether they feel affectionate to their owners or not. Snakes are not social animals, they don’t have friends, and they are not nurturing to their young.
Many mammals can demonstrate deep emotions of joy, love, jealousy, and some even suffer from mental health issues and require specialized therapy.
Snakes have emotions, albeit primitive.
They show contentment and they like familiarity. Snakes are known to show satisfaction in their owner’s presence and skittish in their absence, or around strangers.
If a snake is uncomfortable, it may act aggressively and warn you by hissing. Most pet snakes are not aggressive unless they feel unsafe; when a snake is feeling hostile, he may coil or hiss.
Each snake has its own personality, some are nervous, others are defensive, and some are incredibly docile and the perfect pet. If your snake is timid, they are likely to bite you when handled.
Snakes will let you know how they feel; you must learn to read their body language and study their temperament, you will understand when they are feeling nervous or calm.
It may come as no surprise to understand that many experts feel that snakes have not developed a sense of love or joy. It doesn’t benefit snakes to be loving.
Do Snakes Recognize Their Owners?
Snakes can learn to “recognize” their owners as long as they feed them, they enjoy eating, and can link the individual feeding them with the food they get. This is known as ” classical conditioning.”
Snakes associate their owner with something positive, like receiving food. Serpents rely on their keen sense of smell, in the acquisition of food, pure and simple.
They associate your scent with something good coming their way; this does not mean they recognize their owners in the fullest sense.
Snakes have smaller and weaker frontal lobes than most pets. One of the most significant flaws associated with a more fragile brain is a limited capacity to remember.
In addition to snakes having smaller brains, they also don’t have a strong sense of hearing or sight.
As a result of these defects, snakes couldn’t possibly connect with you and recognize you as their owner as they can’t distinguish people.
You must remember that it is only with people that smell is firmly connected to memory; this is of no advantage to snakes.
A snake’s sense of smell triggers his desire to hunt. Snakes use scent to determine what they can eat to what they can’t eat.
All in all, snakes are pretty shallow creatures. Life is all about their comfort, having safe hiding spots, and getting food.
They act on instinct, and if there’s something in front of them that smells like food, they will strike without a moment’s thought.
They know that their human won’t hurt them and is there to give them whatever they want.
Snakes won’t randomly attack a person unless they mistake you for prey, sometimes snakes accidentally bite their owners because they smell like food, if you have not washed your hands thoroughly after handling food.
These injuries tend to be minor.
Best Snake Species To Own
Many snakes are not suitable as pets, and as such a lot of research is required into each species before they can be domesticated.
Those that are chosen as pets are available exactly because they meet certain criteria:
Pet snakes must be non-venomous, not too heavy, must be docile, and not come with difficulty managing humidity and temperature requirements.
Ultimately, pet snakes must be good with humans.
Let’s explore the five most popular pet snakes:
Ball pythons make great snakes for beginners. They are ideal as pet snakes because they are very docile, and their small size makes it easy to house them.
They come in attractive autumnal colors and patterns. They are inexpensive to maintain, but a word of warning, ball pythons can be fussy eaters.
Corn snakes are a great pet snakes for beginners; this is due to their small size and docile temperament.
They are very hardy snakes, and they come in bright orange and red colors with black patterns.
As robust as these snakes are, they can experience shedding problems, if there is a lack of humidity.
Garter snakes are for owners at the beginner’s level of snake ownership. They are small snakes, with lovely temperaments.
They are always highly alert and active. In regards to their upkeep, they are reasonably inexpensive.
You will be glad to know that they do not have any special lighting needs like other species.
Rosy boas are ideal for owners at a beginner level. As they have lovely, docile temperaments and they are also small-sized serpents.
It is inexpensive to maintain them, and like garter snakes, they do not have unique lighting needs.
The California kingsnake is a beautiful beginner snake because it has a calm temperament, which makes him an easy-to-manage pet.
These snakes are easy to breed, and they come in a wide range of colors. They will eat anything you give them, generally speaking, they are not fussy.
It doesn’t cost much money to care for these snakes, and they also do not require special lighting.
It seems like all the care and affection owners demonstrate to their pet snakes is a one-way street.
However, this doesn’t make them entirely undesirable as a pet. They offer something else than what other animals may be able to provide.
It is comforting to know that a snake’s inability to recognize and show affection to its owners is not personal.
They are indeed interesting to observe, and they are beautiful creatures in their own right. The fact that they don’t complicate their lives is admirable in a sense.
Snakes certainly like their creature comforts and don’t feel guilty about putting their needs first.
Ultimately, their safety is their utmost priority. It comes as no surprise that they mostly act on instinct.
Here are some other interesting guides on snakes you may be interested in:
- Can Snakes Climb Stairs? [The Answer Will Shock You]
- Can Snakes Cry? [Are Snakes Able To Shed Tears?]
- Do Snakes Have Lungs? [Can Snakes Breathe Through Their Skin?]
- Do Snakes Recognize Their Owners? [What Do They Think Of You?]
- Do Snakes Fart? [You’ll Be Very Surprised By The Answer]
- Do Snakes Have Teeth? [The Answer May Comes As A Surprise]
- Do Vegetarian Snakes Exist? [Or Do All Species Eat Meat?]
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.