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Posted by Chance on November 13, 2002 at 08:21:29:
In Reply to: I agree ... posted by BGF on November 13, 2002 at 07:41:42:
I didn't mean to use as lax of wording as I did for that post. The wording I used was in responce to a person that has no problems free-handling coral snakes, so probably wouldn't mind free-handling something like a boom as well. I very much respect these snakes. Their speed is unlike any other that I've worked with, and can certainly give any N. A. racer a run for its money when it comes to scooting across the ground. Add to that that they can basically do the same thing up in the trees makes this snake totally remarkable, and therefore my absolute favorite species. For a "primitive colubrid" (as I've heard them referred to as), they seem incredibly intelligent, and they don't have the weak back-fang system most rear-fangs do. In fact, my roommate and I found a shed fang in the back of a mouse our male boomslang grabbed but didn't eat. I need to get some good pictures of that fang, because it's a good 3/4 to 1 centimeter in length. After getting a good look at their fang systems, one can very quickly develop a healthy respect for this snake. Two huge fangs on each side that can very easily impale a young mouse should deserve respect from anyone working with them.
As to my handling of these snakes, I choose my method for one big reason alone. True, these snakes can seem incredibly docile, but seeing one of them in feeding mode can remind you that they can definitely be aggressive at times. But anyway, I choose my method for the fact that the hook and tail method on boomslangs is almost all but useless. I'm sure there are some specimens that this can be easily done to, but mine don't want to let me do this. First off, they will promptly wrap themselves in a knot on the branch any time I go to hook them out of the enclosure (I'm talking literal know here, not just a couple loops). Also, they are so agile that they can easily manipulate themselves such that they can go from one end of the hook to the other in almost record time. For these reasons, I choose to "free-handle" them with thick leather gloves and a heavy coat. This gives me the ability to have complete control of their body (holding the upper end just past the neck usually, and the lower end and the last 1/3), whereas with the hook and tail method, I would almost be at the mercy of whatever they wanted to do. And doing this, they seem very inclined to just try to slide through my gloved hands. So far, no aggression has been attempted (even by the aggressive black female) during this. If it ever falters, we'll just figure out another way to handle them.
So all that being said, I do have a very healthy respect of these snakes. Their muscular control is simply amazing to watch. They definitely are my favorite species to keep, and probably always will be. I hope that explained my handling methods a little.