How Do Snakes Show Affection?

Are you worried your pet snake doesn’t like you?

Have you wondered if your snake is happy with you or its home?

Understanding how snakes behave is something many pet owners will attempt to figure out, and one question you might ask is:

How do snakes show affection?

Research has found snakes don’t have the intellectual capacity to show affection, but they will show more acceptance for their owners who feed and care for them. They show this acceptance by not acting threatened and allowing you to handle them. 

Snakes are known for being solitary creatures who live ruled by instinct and a desire to survive. 

Read on as we continue to discuss snakes showing affection. 

how do snakes show affection

How Do Snakes Show Affection?

Snakes are not like your average house pet.

Dogs and cats can show more complex emotions, including affection.

If you are looking for a pet to dote on your every move, a snake is probably not for you.

Researchers have found snakes have a smaller and weaker frontal lobe in their brains, and with a smaller brain comes less intellectual capacity. 

The long and short of it is, they can’t display or even feel affection in the way we think of it. 

This isn’t always a common belief when it comes to snake owners, who believe their snake knows and cares for them, even if they cannot show it as other animals do.

Really what snakes will display is an acceptance of you as their owner, and this acceptance is associated with affection for some owners.

What this acceptance means is the snake doesn’t get upset with you as you approach the cage or during handling sessions. 

Don’t mistake a lack of affection to mean it hates its life or you.

Instinctive “Affection”

Snakes are just driven by basic needs of drinking, eating, breeding, and overall just surviving, and love or affection doesn’t come into play for those things. 

It doesn’t even come into play when mating, with a male and female snake only getting together to make babies and snake mothers don’t bother to care for the young. 

Affection isn’t in the snake, but it seems, in many cases, people associate a lack of fear or the absence of behaviors snakes display when threatened to mean the snake does have a kind of affection. 

This is a much-debated topic among snake owners, and for many, they believe there is a kind of affection displayed by the snake towards them.

Do Snakes Recognize Their Owners?

This is a similar and related topic to the one we just discussed, with research finding again; snakes can’t solidly remember you as their owner. 

A smaller frontal lobe means their ability to remember long term is significantly lower. 

They more likely associate you with something good like food, in a kind of Pavlovian response, or conditioning in a sense. 

They might associate your smell with food or that you play a role in their life, but the snake will not run up and come directly to you, recognizing you like a dog or cat. 

Some might argue this is a kind of recognition, but they don’t recognize you as an owner, but rather as something not necessarily harmful to their existence.

A snake is not a social creature like we are.

They do not crave the company other snakes, or animals, so recognizing us is not a priority or something they even care to do. 

Add this in with their poor eyesight and hearing, and honestly, your snake would have an even more difficult time picking you out of a crowd. 

Does My Snake Like Me?

While your snake might be able to show affection or snuggle up to you like a dog or cat, your snake will accept you and develop a level of trust with you.

They seem to understand their life is better by having you in it because you are the bringer of food. 

If you are having trouble building a kind of relationship with your pet snake, you might need to evaluate how the animal lives.

Stress does not make for a solid building block for your relationship. 

They might not feel love, but your snake is not a stranger to fear and anxiety.

This fear helps keep them alive in the wild, but added prolonged stress opens the animal up for disease, a lack of appetite, and ultimately a shortened lifespan.

If you notice your snake is displaying signs of being stressed, check on the size of the tank.

Too small of a tank is not suitable for the animal, because they will feel cramped.

The snake needs room to move and stretch.

Other stressors include being housed with other snakes. 

A Lonely Life

Again, snakes are not social creatures, opting for a solitary life, except during breeding.

Another reason your snake is not happy with you might be linked to how you are handling them.

Aggressive handling means they aren’t going to trust you or feel comfortable around you.

Remember to take your cues from the animal, looking for how they are positioned in the tank if they are hissing, and more body language. 

They will let you know if they are scared or upset with you or don’t want to be bothered.

Treating the animal with respect will help you build a relationship where your snake accepts you and doesn’t feel scared around you.


If you wondered about how snakes show affection, you don’t need to now.

While this is an often debated topic, with some snake owners believing their snake is affectionate and loves them, research shows they are just not capable of giving you affection. 

They give you affection and are friendly in so far as they do not act aggressively or fearfully in your presence.

During handling, you might serve as an excellent heater, and you are the bringer of food, but there is no loyalty or recognition and not a sense of affection you are likely to see in other pets. 

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