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When everything turns to nothing, I'll still be there for you.
Whoever said you can't cuddle with a snake..? 
14th-Jul-2011 04:08 am
Admitted, the sort of snake-cuddling is much closer to any sort of BDSM-cuddling you might get than the run-of-the-mill something you usually would describe as "cuddling".

Still. It's cuddling.
Just different.

So I've been living with ゆうちん [Yudoka, Yuu-chin, snake-boy, "that snake", 下着蛇, ...] for about two months now, and we're still making progress in getting to know each other.

The interesting part about getting to know a snake's personality is, when you've never had a snake before, you have to learn everything from scratch. There are no such books like Desmond Morris' Cat and Dogwatching - at least if there are books the like, they seem not even remotely as renown as those mentioned.

How do you get to know a reptile?
How do you get to know and understand any lifeform?

Being with it, spending quality time with it, opening your senses to it, and taking up everything you see, feel, hear... absolutely everything. And learn, bit by bit. It always takes time. But it's so so interesting, especially when it's about an animal you just really don't know much about. I mean, I guess almost everyone here will know that when a dog wags its tail, it's excited, friendly, etc etc.

But what does a snake want to tell you when it touches its nose against yours?

Ah, right.

Isn't one of the first things some people would associate with the word "snake" some toothed, aggressive, atrocious, feral being without arms and legs? Isn't it funny to see how a lot of the species "snake" would rather run away than bite you, are terrified of two- and four-leggers, and are generally shy and timid beings?

Well, ball pythons are, as much is sure.

So, getting-to-know-each-other being a process of steady development, I'm extremely curious to see how this will turn out.

So far, my snake-boy is as long as my arm, from knuckles to arm-pit, hates getting sprinkled with cold water, loves hiding under my clothes (when I'm in them) to sleep, bites when suddenly frightened and no way to run, is an air-head and a klutz, often falls off the ledge under the ceiling of the terrarium, is best taken out there when still in a sleepy daze, currently taking very little time to get adjusted to having been taken out.

We've both changed our behaviour towards each other.

In the very beginning, he didn't yet know that hair was something penetrable, much like grass. He always stopped when he touched my hair, and moved backwards. Now, he purposefully dives into it when "running" up to my neck, or snakes up the back of my head.

It took him about two or three weeks until he started losing his suspicions about my "face" being something scary. I used to let him roam freely on my desk. Whenever he did, he sometimes watched me from his place behind the plant at the wall, or sometimes from in front of it, sometimes he'd come a little closer, but he still was cautious about the whole being I call myself, and never got closer than thirty centimeters to my body.
Whenever he was on myself, there was no problem though.

It also took him a while to realize that both hands are safe - not just the one he's sitting on, but also the one that might be roaming around in the background, writing things, typing, moving jigsaw-puzzle pieces around or even being brazen enough to approach him.

Now, whenever he's paid attention and knows that what's moving back there is part of my body and non-dangerous, he moves his head up towards my hand/whatever it is moving close to him.

He also seems to like sleeping around my neck. He hadn't been doing that from the start.

Just a few weeks ago, we seem to have established some sort of greeting. For example, let's see...

For example, he would snake up my arm. I could ignore him, concentrate on whatever I'm doing, and he would not stop moving much, but snake on to wherever he wanted to snake to. However if I moved my head to look at him, keep looking, he'd usually move his head to do the same, and sometimes, more often than not, he would crawl towards me, and touch his snout to either my nose or lips, before going on with his business.

It also seems that whenever I have him out, that after the first time this happened, he acts differently. How differently, I would say "relaxed", "calmer", "Jungle-book-baloo-like no-worries".
He tends to be calm before. But he's calmer after. "Sweeter", "closer", if that makes sense.

These days, it seems he's not the least bit afraid of my face. The scary dark hole with the o-so-sharp teeth isn't that scary anymore either. I still avoid yawning directly in front of his face - although the little bugger never even bothers and frequently yawns, no matter whether his face is right in front of mine or not.

Faces- touchy matter indeed. It was quite some event when I realized he'd let me touch his face. I had avoided touching it the first couple of weeks - as to not scare him. He is perfectly cool with me doing so now. [I love his cheeks. They're so terribly soft. And the back of his snout feels like rubber, makes me think of "Free Willy" on occasion, heh.]

How do you know whether a snake likes something, is okay with something, or definitely dislikes something?

I'd say, it's not that terribly hard to find out. If you did something a snake dislikes, its first reaction would probably be - move away/move backwards/running the fuck away/coil up frightened. Right, we don't want to do that again. In case it's pretty much unfazed, I suppose whatever you did was at least "okay".

I think I have found out that whenever he actually ~likes~ something, he moves against it.

This is a very recent realisation/observation. You know, I used to hold him quite lightly. Not as lightly that he'd slip and fall - he does that at times - but still nothing like "tightly".
I changed that however, when I for one reason or other held him tighter than usual and immediately got a response from him. I combined that observation with images I'd seen about snakes who get along with each other and sleep coiled up with another. Their owner calling it "cuddling".

That's where my BDSM-reference comes in.

So whenever he held tightly from that point of time on, I held him back. I mean, see, there are different ways of how he'd move over me. For example, there'd be a fast sliding down/up/sideways. There is a slower movement of him holding tighter to whatever he's on, and crawling over it in a way you would feel his muscles moving over you. Sometimes, he'd hold still with the first third part of his body, while the rest would contract in small, strong movements, a sort of "gathering" his body behind him, before he would move on. Which is something he would do before bridging longer distances through air. [It all makes sense, but you hardly ever think much about it when you're not confronted with snakes on a daily basis, right?] It's a version somewhere between the second and the last movement that this is going to be about - the ones where he most definitely uses strength for.

Before I talk about the "cuddling", let me just tell you about one other recent little change in behaviour. A couple of weeks ago, whenever I had him out in the evening, he soon would try to start running either under the pillows on the couch, or straight down off and away the couch. I used to call it his "Whee wheeeee black pilllowwwwwshhh" behaviour.
He's doing that less often these days. There were days in succession when he would rarely bother with the pillows anymore, instead coil up around my neck, or just basically not move to and on much else than my person. Very relaxing, I must say. |D

I used to think that he is like that especially when hungry, however today, two days after I fed him last, he was very eager to explore what might be behind and next to the couch again, so I suppose it also has to do with his mood, not just his hunger. Adding to that, he was extremely peaceful just the days before I'd fed him - when he should have been fidgety, assuming the "the hungrier, the more restless" rule was true.

So, a couple of days ago, I randomly pressed back when he held tightly around me. He had just been about to move, but when I did that, he stopped, and stayed still. Commencing a couple of minutes of us pressing and releasing each others hands/tails/whichever body parts consecutively. Just like a little massage. It seemed like his whole attitude had changed. He behaved a little differently afterwards, and he stayed close to me, as opposed to trying to explore as much as possible.

Interesting change, I found.

On another occasion, I was "just about to put him back" (something that is getting close to my "going to go to bed soon" thing...), but went to sit on the bed with him for a little while. Totally and perfectly undistracted from things like computers or game consoles. He held my hand tightly, and thus began a new cycle of us holding another like that. I ended up almost falling asleep on my bed, with him somewhere between my chest and the palm of my hands. We both sort-of-slept. It was more than cute. It was lovely ;-;

Today I went to sit/lie on the bed with him again. I really love doing that. One reason being that the only thing I'm concentrated on, is him, another reason being him being able to explore and run freely, and me being able to do just the same next to him, and yet another reason is that he seems to like it when my body is in a horizontal
As usual, he started exploring and "running" over the bed, trying to explore the edges and corners and wherever they lead to - the moment I need to pull him back, lest he finds out there's places to hide and never surface from. |3

At some point, I was lying on my back and held him over my stomach, he pressed against my fingers and hand again, so I moved them against him. Which tends to immediately set off a rhythm of movement. He again stopped moving, and I think I moved my hands so they'd rest against my stomach - and so we just stayed like that for a while. I was lying on my side/back. He was curled around both my hands. I'm not quite sure how that went, I just remember that part of his tail/last third of him was in my left hand, the part that kept holding, then somehow he was outside of my hand, and my other hand, which he pressed lightly from the outside, and I kept up the pressure coming from him.

In other words, I was naturally manacled and handcuffed. With quite some pressure. Beautiful.

I drifted over to half sleep, listening to music. I had no idea about the time. I just noticed how one song was coming up after the other, and another one, another one. I could feel my pulse throb in the palm of my left hand.
After maybe fifteen minutes, I felt him move around again, so I opened an eye and tried to make out what he was doing, but for the rest of the time there, he not once moved away. He only ever moved his first parts to crawl here or there, but never tried to pull away. He adjusted at times, burying his face in my skirt, or sliding down my arm, releasing my right hand, to sleep with his head between my arm and my chest. Or then move again, and snake along my thigh, but still not moving his lower part away.

So in the end, I have no idea how long we were lying there. It was past 2am when I got back to the couch. I can't remember when I went to sit on the bed. Midnight? Around 1am? I really don't know.
He did move from my hand at some point, making another attempt to explore/run away over the edge of the bed, but it seemed to have been a half-hearted attempt -- he turned around, snaked back next to my leg until he was about 10cm from my face, then he turned around again and pressed his face against my t-shirt. Once my left hand was freed, I opened my eyes to look at it. All the veines were standing out. And I mean it - ALL of them. It was quite fascinating. Even on the inside of my thumb. My hand was one veine-landscape. Fascinating.

Another song later, he started to explore again, which was when I got back up and to the couch, to then put him back into his terrarium.

Well, everyone judge for yourselves. I do think however, my assumption of this holding/pressing against each other being a way of socializing with other snakes/beings might be quite correct. Just bring back that image of snakes coiling up and around each other when they sleep.

(Him squishing his own face and being all "wat aw yu doing in mai tewwawium I hash not inwaitedd yuus")

As a conclusion... Snakes might not have cuddly fur, but their skin is soft. As is their flesh under the skin. And as opposed to many cuddly mammals, they do touch you quite differently - and they hold back. And I personally love when he does.

So there are those who think that pet snakes belong into a terrarium, are to be looked at only, and being all touchy-touchy with your snake is a big bad no-no. Then there are those who actually socialize with their snakes, and have lots of stories to tell about them.
And I believe that, judging from his recent behaviour as well as from what other people have written about their pet snakes, snakes indeed do have some sort of "social behaviour". I shall find out more.

Yapp. A whole entry just about a snake.


Who's running away screaming, and who's wanting one now? :3
14th-Jul-2011 07:58 am (UTC)
Kawai, kawaiiiii, kawaiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!

'Cuddling' with a snake might sound strange at first glance, but what I appreciated from the very first moment and the 1st time I held a snake (or did it hold me??) was exactly that tension, that "I hold-on-to-you" attitude. I think, primarily, it's because they actually like a warm(er) body.
But I'm convinced that this can be social interaction as you describe it here. I know from your stories, that things changed and evolved with him.

Snakes are living beings - and any living being senses things - in this way or another. You just have to find out how your special pet senses things, that's all. People who judge a snake as being cold or in-sensitive are just narrow-minded dorks.

Your report is great. Very intense, exact and to the point. "Snake watching" should be your next book-writing-project :-))
15th-Jul-2011 09:40 pm (UTC)

Haha. Before someone like me writes a snake-watching book, some herpetologist should.
16th-Jul-2011 05:55 am (UTC)
Hm, yours would be emotional, a herpetologist's one would be too "academic" or science-based.
I would prefer yours!!
Roaded on Jan 23rd 2018, 5:50 pm GMT.