It's been mentioned many a time that it's not generally a good idea to keep pythons and boas in the same cage for various reasons. I do keep them together. Here's my question and no, it's not a troll question:

** If an animal has no idea what it looks like (there's no mirrors), how can it recognize a like species for breeding purposes...?

I know this sounds like a stupid question with an obvious answer, but if you think about it, humans greatly identify their physical attributes with what they see in the mirror. More than that, analytical deduction from what our physical senses tell us, allows us to keenly differentiate ourselves from other creatures.
Sooo, how can a Ball Python know a Boa is not just another Ball Python? I understand it can see the other snake as a potential threat, but how can it differentiate it in any other way? If your answer is skin/scale color, then how does a normal BP recognize an Albino BP for breeding? If you say smell, I would counter with the fact that I give equal "holding" time to my snakes on purpose, in part so they smell like me. This makes sure there's a familiarity of scent on all the snakes...with the hope they feel comfortable together. IOW, if we all wore the same cologne/perfume, how would we be able to differentiate one another? Body heat? All snakes are cold-blooded. Chemical scent? maybe.
I find it fascinating that excluding the infrequent mutation, most species know who and what they are, without ever having the benefit of self awareness vis a vis mirrors.

Robert J. Salvi, Ambiance Acoustics
http://www.ambianceacoustics.com
San Diego, CA USA
(858) 485-7514
It's been mentioned many a time that it's not generally a good idea to keep pythons and boas in the ... has no idea what it looks like (there's no mirrors), how can it recognize a like species for breeding purposes...?

Pheromones?
Instinct?
I know this sounds like a stupid question with an obvious answer, but if you think about it, humans greatly ... than that, analytical deduction from what our physical senses tell us, allows us to keenly differentiate ourselves from other creatures.

That's because most humans are deluded, and taught false beauty standards early on.
I enter the Willindorf venus as the perfect example.
Sooo, how can a Ball Python know a Boa is not just another Ball Python? I understand it can see the other snake as a potential threat, but how can it differentiate it in any other way?

Pheromones.
The snakes sense of smell is FAR superior to yours!
If your answer is skin/scale color, then how does a normal BP recognize an Albino BP for breeding? If you ... the fact that I give equal "holding" time to my snakes on purpose, in part so they smell like me.

They won't.
This makes sure there's a familiarity of scent on all the snakes...with the hope they feel comfortable together. IOW, if we all wore the same cologne/perfume, how would we be able to differentiate one another? Body heat? All snakes are cold-blooded. Chemical scent? maybe.

Animal senses are far more sensitive than yours.
I find it fascinating that excluding the infrequent mutation, most species know who and what they are, without ever having the benefit of self awareness vis a vis mirrors.

Mother Nature is an unpredictable ***. ;-)
Count on it.

Om.
"My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-***." -Jack Nicholson
If you say smell, I would counter with the fact that I give equal "holding" time to my snakes on purpose, in part so they smell like me.

To that I would have to ask -how freak'n' naive are you?
If you say smell, I would counter with the fact ... snakes on purpose, in part so they smell like me.

To that I would have to ask -how freak'n' naive are you?

Why naive? If you introduce a new snake into an existing population and the exisiting population is familiiar with a specific human scent, wouldn't you agree that the newly-introduced animal is less likely to draw negative attention if it smells familiar? Obviously this assumes that the "familiar" scent is one that doesn't stress or aggravate the group.

If OTOH you're saying that an animal won't smell significantly different after human contact and the exisiting group will immediately recognize the presence of a new scent, then your statement makes sense. Care to elaborate?

Robert J. Salvi, Ambiance Acoustics
http://www.ambianceacoustics.com
San Diego, CA USA
(858) 485-7514
If you say smell, I would counter with the fact that I give equal "holding" time to mysnakes on purpose, in part so they smell like me. This makes sure there's a familiarity of scent on all the snakes...with the hope they feelcomfortable together.

Yes, but they'd still be able to detect their individual snakey smell under the scent of you, kind of like when you spray air freshner in a room and you can still detect the smell of the fart through the smell of the air freshner And, remember, snakes have a much more acute sense of smell than humans
Good analogy. I guess it must be their sense of smell and chemical differences. If that's all it is, perhaps we humans sitting at the top of the food chain might actually be the truly flawed species. ;-)

Robert J. Salvi, Ambiance Acoustics
http://www.ambianceacoustics.com
San Diego, CA USA
(858) 485-7514
after a few drinks, any snake will look attractive.

Craig