A Few Tips for Handling Snakes


Pet Snake pic

Pet Snake
Image: reptilesmagazine.com

Josh Ruffell is an animal trainer and consultant who works with various clients throughout the Los Angeles, California, region. A reptile expert, Josh Ruffell has worked with and handled a myriad of reptile species, around the globe.

Whether an individual needs to handle a pet snake or has a wild snake in the backyard, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind. For reptile owners, a snake hook can be an invaluable tool in picking up and handling snakes. Hooks are especially effective when it comes to handling irritable or aggressive snakes, and picking up an active, mobile snake.

In order to avoid physically harming a snake when handling it, individuals are advised to support as much of the body as possible. It can help to hold the snake near the mid-section, using both hands to support a non venomous species, or potentially using two hooks for a venomous species. Snake owners should never pick up a snake too close to the head, as many snakes are sensitive in this area and may find it uncomfortable. Similarly, a snake picked up by the tip of the tail is likely to thrash about, possibly injuring itself and the handler.

Individuals are almost always better off not interacting with wild snakes, especially If the snake is unidentifiable or known to be venomous. Non venomous snakes should still be treated with caution and respect and, again, are best left alone. Wild snakes should only be handled by a trained professional.


Ball Python Housing Basics


Ball Python pic

Ball Python
Image: reptilesmagazine.com

Josh Ruffell is a freelance animal trainer and consultant who has worked with leading animal training companies on a number of films and television shows. In this capacity, his responsibilities include wildlife safety consulting and on occasion, standing in for actors in potentially challenging animal scenes. Particularly interested in reptiles, Josh Ruffell attributes some of this fondness to his first pet snake, a ball python he acquired as a teenager.

Ball pythons generally make good pets because they are relatively small, usually docile, and easy to care for. One aspect of care it is crucial to get right is the housing, which will help keep your ball python safe, healthy, and free of stress.

Juvenile ball pythons do not need a very large enclosure, as smaller enclosures actually help them feel more secure, whereas a larger habitat might overwhelm your snake and cause it stress. For adults, the sweet spot seems to be approximately one and a half times its overall length.

For the substrate, most reptile-friendly substrates you find at your local pet store will work. Provide your ball python with plenty of places to hide, as these shy snakes often prefer the safety and comfort of solitude. While you do not want to clutter the enclosure too much, provide at least one hiding place at each end where the temperatures will differ.

Speaking of temperature, as ectotherms or cold blooded animals, ball pythons need an ample supply of external heat to stay active and healthy. Providing areas of varying temperature within your snake’s enclosure will allow them to self-regulate depending on their current needs. Set your habitat up with a basking site of around 88 to 90 degrees, and a cooler area around 78-80 degrees.

Helping Endangered Sea Turtle Species

 Southwest Fisheries Science Center pic

Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Image: swfsc.noaa.gov

A graduate of Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training and Management Program, Josh Ruffell has over 25 years of experience working with animals in a variety of settings. Josh Ruffell specializes in working with reptiles.

After a 2004 study of data from 32 different index sites, assessors from Southwest Fisheries Science Center found a 48 to 67 percent decline in the number of nesting mature female green sea turtles over the previous three generations. That conclusion led the International Union for Conservation of Nature to list the green sea turtle as an endangered species. The decline in the green sea turtle population is attributed to the growth in commercial harvest of the turtles and their eggs as well as pollution and diseases such as fibropapillomatosis (FP), which causes tumors to form on their mouths, eyes, and skin. More than one-fifth of dead green sea turtles found in Florida from 1980 to 2005 had FP tumors.

However, a recent study published in the U.S. Geological Survey detailed a breakthrough in FP research, in which scientists successfully engineered the skin of green sea turtles in a laboratory. Consequently, they were able to grow the virus that causes the cauliflower-shaped tumors in the turtles, which in the future should lead to better-tailored treatment options for turtles affected by FP. It was the first time ever that researchers were able to grow the skin of a non-mammal.

Reptiles in the Movie and Television Industry

Jules Sylvester's Reptile Rentals Inc pic

Jules Sylvester’s Reptile Rentals Inc
Image: reptilerentals.com

Currently serving as a freelance animal trainer and consultant in Los Angeles, California, Josh Ruffell works with a variety of companies in the television and movie industry. Josh Ruffell often works as an animal trainer for Jules Sylvester’s Reptile Rentals Inc. in Thousand Oaks, California, where he works with reptiles and other animals for numerous Hollywood production companies.

Started in 1980, Jules Sylvester’s Reptile Rentals Inc. was created to provide experienced animal trainers to work with animals, in particular reptiles, being used in the movie and television industry. With an incident-free safety record for more than 30 years, Reptile Rentals is highly regarded by the animal care organization the American Humane Association.

Jules Sylvester’s Reptile Rentals has been used in many well-known movie productions, such as Lemony Snicket, Arachnophobia, and Snakes on a Plane. Animal Trainers from the company have also served as snake catchers on out-of-town movie and television sets where native rattlesnakes can potentially cause issues for production cast and crew.