Can Snakes Show Affection to Their Owners?

When we think about snakes, we often envision vicious, dangerous creatures that we encounter in the woods or forest. But we need to remember that they are also pets for many people.

These pets reside in homes, among people, and their families. These snakes are entirely reliant on their human owner for survival.

With that scenario in mind, do snakes have emotion? Do they care about their owners? Is it possible for snakes to show affection to their owners?

Snakes and Their Owners

Unfortunately for their owners, the intellectual capacity of a snake isn’t high enough to feel affection. Therefore, this reptile species does not have specific emotions towards any individual.

This lack of emotion is in regards to their owners as well as all other humans. However, even if they don’t feel emotion towards their owner, they do feel something else.

That other feeling they have is knowing that they are around a non-threatening figure. As a pet owner, you are around them consistently. This act allows them to understand your purpose.

Therefore, although it could still happen, the chances of your pet snake attacking you are less due to your constant presence.

Although your pet snake can’t show affection towards you, it can display trust. You gain the confidence of a snake by showing up continually in a non-threatening way.

Does My Pet Snake Know Me?

In addition to the inability to express affection for their owner, snakes cannot distinguish their particular owner.

Although they associate your scent with certain situations, they don’t understand who you are.

Unlike a cat or a dog, they do not have the intellectual capability to recognize a particular person. No matter the frequency in which they see you, they won’t grasp your ownership role.

What a snake can respond to are things that make them happy. For instance, snakes enjoy their mealtimes. The act of being fed brings them joy.

When you are the avenue that brings the food to them, they associate your smell with their food. Because the food gives the snake happiness, so does your smell.

However, that doesn’t mean that if they were to smell your hand outside of mealtime, that they would be happy. This interaction will likely bring different reactions due to the lack of food involved.

Non-Threatening Feelings

In addition to feeling joy over meal times, snakes respond to warmth. A human’s touch is typically warm, and a pet snake will react to that.

This ability and preference is also part of their sixth sense, specific to certain species of snakes. This sense affords them the ability to understand their environment without sight.

When you handle your pet snake, the light touches, gentle movements, and the heat from your skin alert the snake that you are not there to cause them harm.

As time goes on, a pet snake becomes conditioned to your non-threatening touch and associates it with comfort. Although this can change abruptly, it reduces an attack risk.

This emotion is only affiliated with the sense of warmth and touch, however. If another person in your home does the same, the snake will not know the difference between the two people.

Senses of a Snake

Most snakes have six senses compared to a human being’s five. Although not all species have six, it is a common trait. These senses are:

  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch
  • Warmth

Although the senses are not strong due to intellectual limitations, they all come into play in some capacity.

These senses afford snakes the ability to survive and protect themselves.


A snake possesses the sense of sight, but it can see very little. This limitation is the reason why snakes often flicker their tongue.

This motion allows them to feel a predator that they can’t see.


With the snake’s sense of hearing, they can hear many sounds. Typically, a snake can hear 40-2,000 hertz.

For reference, a human voice is often 1,000 hertz.


Even though a snake has a sense of smell, it doesn’t have a nose.

Instead, this reptile type smells through its tongue, which you often see flicker frequently.

Despite their lack of a formal nose, they have an incredible sense of smell. Snakes can pick up the scent of predators or their next meal with ease.


As it pertains to taste, snakes don’t have taste buds. However, they use their sense of smell to capture scent chemicals in the air, which allow them to taste.

A sensory organ performs this act at the roof of their mouth, called the Jacobson’s Organ.

Located at the base of the nasal cavity, Jacobson’s Organ helps a snake taste.


As previously mentioned, snakes react strongly to touch. The body of a snake comprises a lining with tactile receptors. These receptors make them highly sensitive to touch.

Due to a large number of receptors, snakes can feel vibrations of movement from far away.

A snake can estimate the size of its prey by the amount of vibration felt.


Lastly, most snakes possess a sixth sense relating to warmth. Although not all types have this trait, those who do can utilize it to catch prey.

The sense of heat comes from heat pits within the snake.

These pits allow for a snake to strike their prey accordingly by sensing where its body is in relation to the snake’s location.

With poor eyesight, snakes are often unable to see their prey.

This sixth sense allows them to hunt efficiently, even without seeing.

Benefit of Senses

Even with lacking certain traits, a snake can use other senses to provide for itself.

Like humans that can’t see, a reliance is made on the remaining abilities to perform routine duties.

Will My Pet Snake Display Aggression Towards Me?

Through continual contact and exposure to your smell and warmth, your pet snake will know that you are non-threatening.

This knowledge will allow you to interact with your snake with reduced fear of attack.

However, this doesn’t mean that you are in the clear.

Even if your pet acts docile for an extended period, it can change its temperament without warning. This behavior change can occur due to many reasons.


A snake may attack its owner because they feel threatened. This random feeling of threat can come during vulnerable periods of shedding, in which a snake is ridding its outer coat.

During this time, which happens several times in the first few years of a snake’s life, your pet’s temperament can change.

It is beneficial to be aware of this early on.


Your pet snake may be feeling unwell and act out as a result. Perhaps it has suffered an injury that you are unaware of or is fighting an illness.

It may be necessary to find care for your pet to diagnose this adequately.


If a pet snake has not been adequately socialized or has been left alone for an extended period, it can attack.

This behavior should subside over time with routine interaction.

An example of this is a family vacation, which will take you away from your pet for a long time.


Snakes prefer for their climate to be at a specific temperature. If it becomes too cold or too hot, they may react negatively.


Sometimes your pet snake simply mistakes you for food. As previously mentioned, a snake often associates its feeder’s scent with eating.

This situation can cause them to assume you are giving them their meal when you are not.


A snake’s environment can dictate its level of happiness.

If a snake’s cage is too small or lacks the proper elements, a snake can become disturbed and act out.

Proper enclosure elements include:

  • Temperature gradients: Adequate levels and areas to warm up and cool down
  • Humidity: Optimal levels and an appropriately-sized humidity box
  • Hiding SpacesandClimbingObjects: At least two hides to feel secure
  • Size: An adequate size for your pet to move about freely
  • Location: In a quiet area with minimal air irritants
  • Substrate: Appropriate amount of substrate within their cage

In accounting for these vital elements, you are securing a healthy and happy environment for your pet.


Having a pet snake is entirely different than having a dog or a cat. Not only is the care vastly different, but the relationship is as well.

Whereas your dog can recognize you as its owner when you walk in the door, your pet snake does not have the intellectual ability to do so.

At times this may feel frustrating due to the lack of affection that you get. However, snakes are amazing creatures that do many beautiful things.

Each type of pet comes with a different experience. Having a snake is a unique opportunity that many don’t get to have.

Even without the ability to recognize you as its owner or to show you affection, a pet snake is worth it. The option to bring one into your home is a rewarding adventure that you won’t regret.

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