Friday, January 06, 2006

How to Catch a Snake

How to Catch a Snake
Have you ever wondered how the professionals on TV catch snakes so easily? Do you want to get one out of your garden without hurting it? Or do you just think it would be cool to catch and get a close look at such a fascinating creature? Here's how to catch a wild snake safely and humanely.

1. Be sure the snake is not venomous. You don't want your first attempt at snake catching to end in disaster! Observe the snake--its length, its colors, and other distinguishing features. Identify the species by using a search engine (e.g. +snake +red +yellow +"north carolina"). If you are at all uncertain of what kind of snake it is, and are worried it might be venomous, call the appropriate local agency ASAP and let them know before anyone gets hurt.
2. Get a stick, or whatever you have at hand (not to hit the snake with).
3. Hold the stick in view of the snake as a distraction. Snakes can only concentrate on one thing at a time. With its eyes on the object in front of it, the snake won't be as concerned with you, especially if you stand to one side.
4. Quickly and firmly grasp it directly behind the head, on both sides of its body, with your thumb and forefinger. This must be done close enough to the head so the snake can't curve around and still bite you. You might want to grab and hold the tail with your other hand so that it doesn't wrap around your wrist.
5. Release the snake into an area that is far enough away to ensure the snake does not wander into your property again. When you let it go, let go of the head quickly, with the snake facing away from you, and step away immediately.

Alternate Method 1(safer)
1. Lay a large garbage can on its side.
2. Sweep snake in with a household broom. Snake can easily be transported to a wilderness area, away from homes.

Alternate Method 2
1. Get an additional stick with a small fork at one end.
2. Use the fork to pin the snake to the ground, an inch behind its head.
3. Pick it up by grasping it right behind the head. The body will be able to wiggle around, but it won't be able to bite you. You can distract the snake while you pin it, or you can probably pin it without distracting it. You can use a forked stick 5-8 feet long, and the distance you are from the snake may help you feel less scared. Once it's pinned, that should help relieve a lot of your anxiety. The stick should look something like this: _\_______________

Alternate Method 3
1. Get a stick that is hollow in the inside like a pipe.
2. Get a long thin rope that is not easily broken. Fold it in half and shove it down the pipe.
3. Using the end of the pipe that has a loop, make the loop a little bigger, enough so that the head of the snake fits.
4. Using the loop, put it down the snake's head and tighten the loop by pulling both ends of the rope on the other end of the pipe. Make sure to tighten the rope close to the head.
5. Get a cage to put the snake in.

* Always be very gentle with snakes, and avoid angering them if at all possible.
* Snakes can be caught without the use of a distraction, but it is much easier and safer to distract a snake before grabbing it.
* If you do not have an area to release the snake, you can put it into an old pillowcase and transport it to a fitting place.
* If you are afraid of getting bitten, you can wear gardening gloves to minimize or possibly eliminate the snake's bite. However, depending on the kind of snake, it might be able to bite through, and gloves will impede your dexterity.
* If you keep finding a snake in the same place, consider using a snake trap instead.
* When handling a snake, it will want to slither through your hands, which is natural. After you pick up a snake, some species like the common Garter Snake will act like it is in a tree. You should handle it by keeping your hands about 10-12 inches apart, and rotate them so that the snake has someplace to go instead of dropping to the ground.
* Some venomous snakes, like the deadly Coral Snake, have harmless look-alikes, like the Milk Snake. When trying to tell the two apart, remember this phrase: Red on Yellow, kill a fellow. Red on Black, venom lack. What this means is that the Coral Snake has Red bands directly next to Yellow bands. The milk snake has Red bands directly next to Black bands.

* If the snake is venomous, or if you are not sure whether it is venomous or not, do not touch it.
* Remember snakes are wild animals and can react unpredictably when threatened. Always exercise extreme caution when catching snakes.
* Try to avoid picking snakes up by their tail. They probably won't curl their bodies up to bite your hand, but they can easily bite your leg or even crotch. If you have to pick a snake up by its tail, hold it as far as possible from your body.
* When you pick up the snake, it will understandably be scared and will likely musk on you. If you wash off immediately, it will reduce the smell, but you will still smell for a few hours more.
* Snakes' heads are remarkably flexible. If possible, hold the snake's neck with your thumb and middle finger, with your index finger pressing on the top of the snake's head.
* It may be illegal to keep a wild snake as a pet in your state. Once you do keep a snake in captivity for more than 30 days, it will have a hard time surviving in the wild. Keeping the snake will stress it more than necessary, and the snake could be pregnant or endangered. There are already far too many pet snakes on the market, some that are given away for free.

Things You'll Need
* a fair amount of courage
* a snake
* a stick
* a pair of gardening gloves
* an old pillowcase
* a good place to release the snake, and make a safe getaway
* a terrarium (if you're interested in keeping the snake as a pet) One REALLY REALLY should not keep a wild caught snake. There are several reasons behind this. First, you are stressing the poor animal more then you need to, the snake could be gravid (pregnant) or endangered and last but not least..There are already wayy too many pet snakes on the market, some that are given away for free if you know where to look. Not to metion if you do end up keeping the snake most wild caught snakes don't live nearly so long as captive bred animals and releasing it into the wild after captivity is not a good idea either. Finally are you prepared to take care of this snake? To learn the needs of the animal? To feed it mice (frozen/thawed of course) To pay for vet bills?
* Alternate method: large garbage can, household broom
* Alternate Method: a hollow stick, a rope

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