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Snake Catcher - How to Catch a Snake

How To Catch a Snake

12.23.2004 - Many people ask me how to catch a snake. Before I explain how, I want to stress that oftentimes, it's best to leave snakes alone. Second, it's very important that you are able to identify snakes, and know which ones are dangerous, and which ones are good and beneficial to have around. Okay then, your four major options for catching a snake are: 1)By hand 2)With snake tongs 3)With snake hook 4)With snake trap. I will analyze these four methods now.

1) By Hand - I've caught the snake in the above photo by hand.  I catch most of my snakes by hand.  This is because I can identify snakes and am careful.  The above snake is a tiny, harmless Brown Snake, a species that does not strike, and which is generally slow.  Thus, it's safe to simply pick up and handle, as shown.  Remember, these animals have many tiny ribs, and should be held gently.  But what about other snakes?  If the snake is fast, then the hand grab needs to be fast as well.  You basically need to move toward the snake in a slow manner, preferably from behind, so that you can surprise it.  You can also move so that you block it off at any angle, to prevent it from slithering away.  If it's the type of snake that will strike, I usually move toward it slowly, with palm out flat (it's hard for a snake to bite a flat palm), and I distract it with one hand, which I wave around, and then once it's looking at the distractor hand, or if it strikes at that hand, I quickly clamp my free hand down upon it.  I usually pin it to the ground, as opposed to a flat-out grab.  This is easier and safer.  I don't hurt the snake, but I gently hold it down.   It's very important, when grabbing a snake by hand, to immobilize the head!  If the head is free, it can swing around and bite you!  This is how most cases of snakebite in the US happen!  So when I've got my hand pinning the snake, with its head, to the ground, I then maneuver my hand so that I'm able to hold the snake gently but firmly enough right behind the head, with my thumb on top of the head.  I usually wear gloves when catching snakes by hand, and if the snake poses a risk of striking, sometimes I wear thick welder's gloves. NOTE: I never have, and probably never will attempt to grab a venomous snake, in particular a pit viper, by hand.'

2) With Snake Tongs - Snake tongs are a special tool to capture snakes.  Basically, it's a pole with a grabbing clamp on the end, operated by a squeeze handle.  The best snake tongs have broad and soft heads, and to be honest, a website called www.tongs.com sells the best ones.  The tongs are useful to pick up dangerous snakes from a distance, or to grab snakes in hard-to-reach areas, such as up in a tree.  Tongs can be difficult to use effectively on fast snakes, unless you're really good.  They are best used on slow and relatively thin snakes.

3) With Snake Hook - The snake hook is a very commonly used snake handler tool.  It's pretty much a pole with a large U-curve, or hook on the end, that one can use use scoop up and hold snakes.  No, you do not impale the snake.  You scoop it up and it drapes over the hook, where it generally can't get the leverage to move, and is thus easy to transport.  Snake hooks work best on larger, and heavy-bodied snakes.  Many people sell snake hooks, and I get mine from www.tongs.com 

4) With a Snake Trap - A trap is a very effective way to catch a snake that you've seen, perhaps in your garden or basement, but now can't locate.  Just set the trap, and wait.  It's a safe way to catch a snake.  The best snake trap that I know of, and which I've used with great success for years is from www.snakeremovaltrap.com

So there you go, those are really the four best ways to catch a snake.  Nets don't work very well, because snakes slither through holes and are low to the ground.  Cage traps don't work.  Generally, the use of an oboe or similar instrument to charm a snake doesn't work either.  I'd like to stress once again that it can be dangerous to catch snakes, and most cases of snakebite occur when people try to do so.  And please, be informed of which species are venomous, and which are not.

Do it yourself: Visit my How To Get Rid of Snakes page for tips and advice.
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