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Rough Handling...?

Posted by Aaron Florian at 12/8/2011 11:02:51 AM

It's always bothered me, and I never see anyone talk about it. Have you seen owners or dealers sling around their animals like they are package of meat? Are some people too rough with them, or am I way over-sensitive? I was at a local breeding facility many years ago,...

...and the owner pulled out a ball python girlie who had just laid eggs the night before. And he was like, "whoa, bout time!" and grabbed her to get her off the eggs and wash the scent off. He picked her up one handed, midbody, and walked with her swinging his arm hung low, like there wasn't a snake in it. He tossed her around as he rinsed her, completely but all too quickly, as if she were a pair of dirty socks.

Minnie prolapsed again this week, and yes, I do have to hold her bum tight when that happens. There are times (usually medical) where you need to handle strongly, I get that. But when inspecting or interacting with the animal in a non-crisis mode,...

As leading as my question is, I'd still like to hear what you think straight up,... I understand that they are animals without feelings and such, and to them being handled at all might be stress, so gentle handling may not even matter.

Have you noticed this? Are you unlikely to buy from someone who is like that, or does it not matter? Are you likely to say anything if it bothers you? Is there a level of respect that should be present, or is it our anthropomorphism that is to blame and the "rough" handling is not a big deal.

 Comments: View Oldest First  

Posted At: 12/8/2011 11:10:39 AM  

I saw a video on a big well known retic breeder that is known for "manhandling" his hatchlings, literally pulling them out of the egg to inspect them before they emerge themselves. A lot of people stuck up fo him saying he has 20+ years experience with tese animals and he knows practically everything there is to know about them and he doesn't see it as "rough", he's just a seasoned vet when dealing with these guys, etc etc. I personally thought it was horrible. Yes, snakes are hardy critters, but I don't think I'd buy from someone who didn't respect the animals enough and carried them around like a caveman with a club or rips them out of the egg before they are ready. It's okay to be seasoned and well versed, but to "newbies" like me, it just looks bad, and shows a lack or respect in my opinion...

Brandon Osborne,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 11:11:53 AM  
You are not alone. I've seen some rough handling and I usually do not keep my mouth shut.

Posted At: 12/8/2011 11:17:49 AM  

I think sometimes firm (not rough) handling is needed.  Great example is I've had bps with stuck sheds that I needed to handle firmly to remove their sheds, not always but I have a few that are stubborn about being near warm water.

I have not personally witnessed this, but I know it does happen and in my opinion it is not needed.  They aren't always as fragile as I know some people think (I have the same problem with horses), but what you described was just pure stupidity on his part.  Laying eggs can't be an easy job and in that situation I would actually be more gentle.

Great post Aaron!

Amanda ,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 11:20:34 AM  

Honestly, I prefer not to associate myself with anyone who sees this hobby as a way to make money and is not in it for the love of the animal. If someone is rough with a dog, I chastise them. If someone is rough with a snake, I am chastise them. Now I'm not saying that when one of my girls puddings all over herself, I don't pick her up midbody or whatever; however, I always make sure she feels safe and clean her up. Hell, when my girls laid last year, I spent 5 minutes congratulating them and then 5 minutes telling them it was ok that their eggs were missing. I know they can't hear me, but it's the point- I show that I care.

If you cannot show an animal respect and any tenderness, how would you treat another human being?

Azriel ,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 11:39:37 AM  

I don't own snakes but with the creatures I do have I always take the time to handle them gently especially the frogs. I also try to gauge if they even want to be handled my beardie lets me know by climbing up my hand when she is ready to chill my frogs will do this as well. I wouldn't associate with some one who handled any animal roughly as it seems that person may have some personality issues. Owning any animal shouldn't be a display of personal power but a symbiotic relationship IMHO. On the other hand of that I use to breed pitts and well they are a rough breed so it just depends on the situations and the animal.

Lisa ,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 11:42:08 AM  

Keep my mouth shut if someone is rough with my babies....NOT A CHANCE!  If it is a vet and I BELIEVE there is a reason for a firm hand that is one thing...otherwise, They are MY babies...handle them like you would "your infant child."  Tenderly and carefully!!!!  I believe rough handling leads to stress (or more stress) and insecurity and possibly getting bit when they are irritated enough from being slung and jerked around.  Just my opinion...

Escamillas Jungle,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 11:48:39 AM  

I believe it is when it becomes more of a chore for the person instead of a love.  They become tired of dealing with the animals.  This is when they need to stop and get out of the business.  Let someone else care for them but still pass on there knowledge.  When you begin to feel this way then you need to step back and realize why you got into the line of business to begin with.

Posted At: 12/8/2011 11:54:04 AM  

I work with delicate soft geckos where a light but firm touch is required. I've also worked in an exotics vet clinic dealing with many different reptiles, phibs, birds and small mammals. There is a huge difference between man-handling/being rough with an animal and restraining it firmly for a medical procedure such as an injection or removing stuck shed, dealing with prolapse, etc. I am gentle with all my animals and I feel as a result, my geckos are more handleable than most because they know they're not going to get hurt. I also believe they recognize my scent as "the giant that won't hurt them". As far as I'm concerned, I don't care how much experience you have. You still need to respect these animals as living beings and treat them with care, not roughness. I tend to avoid people who don't respect creatures.

Aaron ,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 11:54:20 AM  

'Firm' handling is needed from time to time, to control the snake and prevent harm to the snake and to you, but that's a world away from careless handling, angry handling, macho 'look how cool I am' handling or plain 'couldn't give a crap' handling.

My opinion is treat them with care and respect or don't touch them, regardless of how experienced you think you are or whether you think the animal doesn't mind etc.

Aaron Florian,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 11:54:55 AM  

No, anyone who is rough with my animals, ... that happens once and done. That's not what I was after tho.

Anyone who has seen me with an animal knows how I am. And there are SEVERAL chondros I've handled that I was strictly told could not be handled. I know this species so well that I have a sixth sense going when interacting with them. Partly because if you handle a chondro rough, you'll get immediate negative reinforcement. They have me trained REALLY well. And they get lots of respect. Both out of respect and a healthy dose of fear.

With other species, especially animals not my own, I'm always very gentle, support them well, let them do their thing. I really don't like them being slung about like meat. But that's just me, I tend to be too much a softie at times.

Posted At: 12/8/2011 12:03:15 PM  

I think it's funny cause I almost don't like riding other peoples horses unless I know that person really well cause a lot of people think they should be treated like a delicate flower.  Sorry, but that's a 1000 lbs of animal that could kill you at any moment, some need a firm hand and they need to respect you, but I've been working with horses and the owners get all upset cause I corrected the horse, hence why I prefer not to ride other peoples horses, just my own and close friends who would freak if I didn't correct their behavior.

I think reptiles are very different than dogs and horses in the sense that they really can't be trained.  If they bite you and you hit them, well they aren't going to learn or realize what they did wrong.  Whereas horses and dogs are 2 species that learn not to bite through proper correction.  With horses it's called the 3 second rule, if they bite you, you have 3 seconds to pretend you're going to kill the horse, but you can't hit their face and you can only use your hands.  Biting with horses is a very extreme act of aggression and cannot be tolerated, a horse can never think he's dominant over you or you could be very severely injured or killed.

-End Rant-

Thomas ,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 12:08:20 PM  

The perhaps biggest problem with rough handling is that there is a significant subjective component to it. What seems gentle to some, may be a bit rough to someone else. Personally, I cannot stand it when someone treats any vertebrate in a way that I would consider rough. It is unncessary and often times counterproductive, in that it will cause the animal to become stressed and potentially agitated. Since I deal with venomous reptiles on a daily basis, I put a great amount of effort into smooth, controlled handling. This minimizes the perceived threat to the animals, which in turn makes them less likely to react in a stressed and agitated (= potentially dangerous) manner.

Granted, my own safety always comes first, and if a particular specimen's behavior warrants a firmer type of handling, then I do not hesitate to approach the situation accordingly. This is especially true in the field, where there are a lot more potential variables involved. In a private setting, with a harmless reptile, there is absolutely no reason to be a bulldog in an origami store. 

I've seen some absolute terrible handling conducted by highly experienced people, and I feel that sometimes this is done solely to make a (rather ignorant) statement to the observers. Interestingly, no single sector seems exempt from including those types of people: I've seen bad handling among private keepers, zoo keepers, and university faculty.

Tom Pip,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 1:25:25 PM  

It always bothers me seeing people be rough with animals when it's not necessary. I believe all living creatures should be dealt with in a respectful manner, especially the ones we keep as pets, whether it be a snake, lizard, hamster or cat..

Posted At: 12/8/2011 2:31:18 PM  

I have never understood why people are so rough with them. It does not make you look like a bad ass or look tough. It makes you look mean and like an ass hole. There is no reason to be that way. It does not make them any more tame, it actually does the opposite. I agree with those of you who said dicipline is necessary in horses and I have had pit bulls too and they need a stong hand. A stong hand is different than abuse. And with reptiles, how so they know they are being diciplined?? They don't. All that does is piss them off and make them less likey to enjoy being handeled. People can be so egotistical....

Emily ,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 3:11:38 PM  

I really hate to see people handle their animals roughly.  But what gets me even more, is when people smoke while handling their animals.  Infuriates me to no end.  Most of these animas have considerably smaller and more delicate respiratory systems than we do...pretty sure they don't want to be breathing in that nasty-ass secondhand smoke.

Aimee ,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 3:41:23 PM  

I'm with you on this, Aaron. it makes me sad to see animals handled roughly.

and they do, too, have feelings beyond a simple stimulus-response. if an inexperienced handler at an outreach stresses my snakes by squeezing too much or being jerky, they immediately try to crawl back to me - and that's not even really "rough" handling. they know they're safe with me (like Saille, I'm the big safe giant in their world). 


this is a great topic, Aaron, and one I think many people don't really reflect on enough. if you give a muckluck about your herps, you have to be sensitive to the animals' needs too and understand that they deserve to be handled with respect for their status as feeling individuals. 

Pope of iHerp and Bread,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 3:48:33 PM  

Em, I put tobacco in my tobacco so I can smoke while I smoke. But I try not to do it in front of the kids. It has happened though, and will probably happen again.

Some snakes need to be man-handled, there is no question about that. I actually have a corn snakes that requires a severely tight grip. But to see animals slung around like they aren't living creatures is just not tolerable. And you see it so often, including videos put up by a lot of big name people. It makes me sad.

Posted At: 12/8/2011 5:28:11 PM  

I agree that all animals should be treated with respect and care as a living creature. They deserve at least enough consideration to not be slung around like a rubber hose or hunk of meat.

Firmness is not the same as roughness. One can be firm but gentle, or firm yet fair. Roughness cannot be gentle, or fair, or respectful. 

Of course, I'm the sort of person that pulls my car over to put the spider, that made it's web on my side mirror over night, in a plant. :) A small thing I can do to make its day much better. 

For me it is about the respect. If someone is not respecting an animal, that is unacceptable. 

Aimee ,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 5:47:12 PM  

ha, keebee, you don't have to - last summer I spider spun in my side-mirror and I left it. several months later - and several hundred freeway miles - he was still there :P

Lauren ,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 6:42:48 PM  

I have indeed seen people handle snakes (that I think is) too rough. I'm very gentle with my snakes, and they respond well to it. Rough handling can get rough responses from snakes and I don't think they're not intelligent enough to tell the difference. If a snake bites you, you don't smack it to let it know that what it did was bad. You shouldn't do that to a dog or a cat either, and I'd even go so far to say that with large animals-- swine, sheep, and yes, horses.  There are plenty of ways to show an animal that something is wrong, plenty of ways to correct them and it doesn't involve physical harm.

Mystic Exotics ,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 8:01:23 PM  

There are far more people that do not treat animals with respect out there than I would care to see.

I won't associate with someone who won't treat animals as living beings. Sure, there may be circumstances where stronger handling is ncessary, but that is not the same as treating it with disrespect.

+1 Lauren

Posted At: 12/8/2011 8:59:16 PM  

Lauren, I understand it with dogs and cats, but horses have a certain language, they speak by biting and kicking to show who's the alpha.  This is something I feel very strongly about since I've been riding for over 10 years and seen people who think they can love a horse into being good and never smack them, everyone ended having the horse hurt them one day cause it didn't respect them.  I've never heard a professional trainer say otherwise.

Cynthia Chaplin,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 10:08:51 PM  

I think it says a lot about how you think of your animals if you handle them the same way you would a piece of trash. It also says a lot about you as a person!

Gladys O. ,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 10:13:07 PM  

You have 3 seconds to pretend like you're going to kill the horse after it does something inappropriate?? I'm sorry, maybe I'm just dense, but I do not understand that statement at all. How do you go about doing that? I think I know who Leah is talking about. I saw that guy's video too. I was shocked at how rough he was handling the babies. Speaking of rough handling of babies, anyone seen a doctor pull a human baby out when its being born? They're rough then too! Just thought I'd throw that out there, lol. Vets are rough too when they're assisting a mother dog with birth.

Jennifer White,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 10:39:14 PM  
I've seen a vet break the jaw of a Chinese water dragon while force feeding. Not cool.

Posted At: 12/8/2011 10:41:52 PM  

There is no physical possible way you can hurt a horse with your hands as hard as they kick each other in the bellies playing in the field.  The point is to make them realize you are the alpha, if they bite they believe they are the alpha.  John Lyons is the one who started the 3 second rule and I don't know anyone in the horse world who opposes it, except for people who don't know what they are doing and they are the ones who end up hurt.

I realize him being a professional is not enough considering the example stated earlier with the retics.  But, I don't know anyone who opposes it who knows what they are doing.  It's like people who don't know about reptiles thinking they need to eat a mouse that's half the size of their head (we all know someone who got their first snake who thought this).

Jennifer White,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 10:53:37 PM  
+1 Aaron. Rough handling animals causes negative reinforcement. Rough handling causes the animal to become fearful. Fearful animal will not trust you, may/will bite, and can also cause injury to himself.

Jennifer White,
Posted At: 12/8/2011 11:01:57 PM  
On the original post, I would not purchase from someone who rough handles the pet of any kind. I will not keep my mouth shut and hopefully, since I won't keep my mouth shut, they will be visited by authorities.

Gladys O. ,
Posted At: 12/10/2011 12:06:16 AM  

Ahhh... I didn't quite get why it's specifically 3 seconds. Lol.

Posted At: 12/10/2011 10:00:51 AM  

3 seconds is the amount of time they need to get it through their thick heads you're mad.  If you ever smack a horse once they usually just stare at you like 'what's your problem' 3 seconds is just what trainers have found works best.

Gladys O. ,
Posted At: 12/10/2011 12:34:37 PM  

Gotchya! ;)

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