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Posted by Chris Carmichael on May 10, 2003 at 04:40:12:
In Reply to: Dumb mistake? Help me understand? (kind of long) posted by gabered on May 08, 2003 at 20:38:59:
What you experienced is a good lesson to all, especially those that work with much larger species than macklot's pythons. I believe pythons have unique sensory receptors on their neck region that when "triggered", through touch, will sometimes initiate what appears to be a methodic type of bite, as compared to an actual strike response (such as when they are trying to strike at a prey item). I believe that if the snake is "primed", through a very recent sensory experience (such as prey odor), that the mechanoreceptors (a type of sensory receptor or neuron or nerve cell) located underneath the skin in the snake's neck region can often activate this more methodic type of bite when stimulated, perhaps through touch of the neck region (almost, as you mentioned, like a swallow type of action). For this reason, it is always best to avoid the neck region during handling of pythons, especially much larger species. If you ever have a stubborn feeding python (this is very general, and I don't recommend this until you have researched the species of choice first) you can take a thawed out appropriately sized rodent and gently begin rubbing it right behind the snake's head, assuming, that the snake does not go into a defensive mode (if so, definitely do not use this method), and you may see the snake immediately grab the prey item. I have witnessed this on many occassions and made note of this (as well as many other python keepers as well), and python keeping neophytes should heed this warning when launching into their first large python acquisition. I was a vendor at a herp show many years ago selling off some macklot's python hatchlings and a customer wanted to see an adult. I pulled out the female, who had never shown any signs of biting ever since I purchased her (6-7 years prior to the show), who immediately began tightening around both of my wrists (I believe this was in response to the first sensory stimulus from potential rodent odor in the air from the rodent vendors not too far away from my booth). The snake's head then began this weird maneuver that placed the head and neck right against my hand which immediately lead to the snake biting and strongly clamping down on my hand. The strength of this bite, from a seven foot roti island macklot's, was impressive to say the least, in fact more than impressive. These animals have extremely strong bites that should not be treated lightly and I can only imagine the strength of a bite from a large burm, rock or retic. Just a few ideas.