Humans love being able to show affection to their companion animals by giving them plenty of pets and scritches. Mammalian pets, such as dogs, cats, and bunnies all seem to be receptive to this. After all, when you think about how a pet interacts with their owner, you think of obvious, physical signs of affection such as cuddling, responsiveness to your voice, and playing. This gives people the idea that all pet animals enjoy this kind of interaction.  

Reptile pets, snakes especially, are extremely different. Snakes don’t have the same body language or behavior patterns that you would see in more common pets (which are most likely mammalian). Despite that, you may be wondering if your snake will be receptive to pets when looking at ball pythons for sale. 

Their brain and physical makeup are totally different, and the fact is we simply can’t say with 100% certainty what any animal thinks or feels. In other words, no, snakes most likely do not “enjoy” being pet. With that being said, well socialized snakes do become tolerant, and may even enjoy being handled by their owners. Ball pythons are known to be docile pets that do well in captivity with regular human interaction. 

Ball Python Body Language

Typically, a happy, healthy ball python is a relaxed ball python. Your snake should be casually lounging around, perhaps with the occasional slow tongue flick. When you interact with your snake, it should gradually move up your arm and find a spot to rest. When it decides to settle down, it may wrap itself into a looser “ball” (and yes, this is indeed how this species got its name). Your snake may also feel more comfortable lounging around outside of hiding areas in its tank. 

Still, it is advised that you recognize signs of distress in your snake. This way, you can avoid causing any unnecessary stress, and maintain a positive relationship with your pet.

Signs of Stress in a Snake

  • Hissing/striking
  • Digestive issues, such as regurgitation and refusing to eat 
  • Rubbing their bodies/noses against object in their tank
  • Tail “rattling” (quick vibrations)
  • Defecating/urinating on you
  • Constricting your arm too tightly

Keep in mind that there are times in your snake’s life when it would be natural and expected for it to be stressed. Travel after being put up for sale, tank transfers, shedding, or being put into any new environment can and will cause stress in your ball python. In general, it is advised that you abstain from handling your snake for around a week after any of these “big events”. However, if you see that certain behaviors persist, or that they appear despite nothing particularly stressful happening to your snake, you may want to see a vet. 

Final Thoughts

When getting any pet, it’s important that you have healthy, realistic expectations for that animal’s behavior, and subsequently the relationship it will have with you. By understanding what your pet may be trying to tell you and why before looking at a ball python for sale, you will set yourself up for many years of success.