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Before handling your garter or ribbon snake, you should always wash your hands. If your hands are dirty, your snake could get sick. Colognes, cleansers, cooking oil, and other household items can prove very dangerous for your snake to come in contact with. A thorough washing will significantly reduce the chances of your snake’s health being negatively affected.
The best way to remove your garter or ribbon snake from his terrarium is to try to get him to slither into your hand and then gently lift him out. You should always be very careful when holding your snake, as a snake’s vertebrae, skeleton, and nervous system are very delicate and can easily be damaged. Keep in mind that human hands are tougher than we tend to realize and your grip can quickly do harm. Never squeeze your snake, but always support his body weight evenly in your hands, even allowing him to move about freely from one hand to the other. When it’s time to return him to his home, let him slither off of your hands and gently into his habitat.
Immediately after handling any snake, you must thoroughly wash your hands and forearms with hot water and antibacterial soap. Additionally, you should never touch other parts of your body, particularly your eyes, or handle any food while you’re holding your snake. Snakes can harbor dangerous pathogens, the most common being Salmonella. Even the cleanest terrarium and snake can be infected, so attention to cleanliness is very important.
For more information, read Quick & Easy Garter & Ribbon Snake Care (T.F.H. Publications, Inc.).