How To Safely Handle Snakes with a Snake Hook

Author: Chris Read   Date Posted: 1 August 2019 

How To Safely Handle a Snake with a Snake Hook

Snake hooks are essential tools for anyone interested in keeping or herping Australian snakes. Snake hooks are used for safely handling, capturing and transporting of a snake while keeping it at a safe distance from the handler. 

Snake hooks are especially useful when handling snakes that present some risk to the handler such as bitey snakes, venomous snakes and wild snakes. Snake hooks allow the handler to immobilise a striking snake and handle it at a safe distance. 

  1. Before handling your snakes, wash your hands carefully. You don’t want a snake to confuse your hand for food and bite you. This is especially possible if your hands have food odour on them. Unwashed hands can also transfer diseases or parasites to your pet snake.
  2. Ensure that your snake has noticed that you are there. Speaking to your snake won’t help because snakes can’t hear your voice, primarily relying on site and vibration. 
  3. Avoid erratic movementsthat might startle your snake. Move slowly and calmly to avoid scaring your snake.
  4. Don’t handle your snake within a couple of days of feeding your snake. Handle your snake when calm and rested. 
  5. It has been recommended that you wear protective gloves and boots when handling your snakes.
  6. Use a snake hook to simply hook the snake just forward of the middle to ensure that there is an equal weight distribution over the hook to avoid it sliding off. As the snake is suspended over the reptile hook and is not in contact with the ground it has limited ability to move or strike. Snake hooks are easier to use with larger and thicker snakes than smaller and thinner snakes that slide off the snake hook more easily. 
  7. For larger snakes, you can hook towards the front of the snake (between the middle of the belly and the neck) to block the opportunity for any strikes and using your other hand support the back half of the snake.
  8. The snake may wrap its tail around your forearm especially if it is a python. This is a great way of helping the snake to stabilize itselfinto a comfortable position.
  9. If you want to transport your snake it is important that you also have snake baggers and double stitched secure snake bags that you can place your snake into with the help of the snake hook. Snake bags allow you to capture snakes and keep them somewhere comfortable while you transport them. You can also use one to take your snake to the vet.
  10. After handling your snake, wash your hands again to ensure that you don’t catch diseases or bacteria such as salmonella. 

Snake hooks are useful for both pet snakes and wild snakes. Pet snakes can initially become aggressive when you place your hands into their cage as they can get confused about whether a handler’s hand is actually snake food or that they just feel threatened. Using a snake hook to carefully lift your pet snake out of their cage can help settle your snake and avoid bites. This is especially important for venomous Australian snakes. 

If you need to relocate wild snakes, a snake hook is very valuable. It is recommended that you not attempt to pick wild or venomous snakes up with your hands. By using a snake hook, you can safely lift them into a snake bag or relocate them to a different location.

On occasions, some snake handlers also use the snake hook to gently pin the snake to the ground so that it is immobilised. The snake can then be carefully and safely picked up behind the head. It is strongly suggested that amateur herpetologists firstly get instructions and coaching from experienced herpetologists or veterinarians.

What’s the Best Snake Hook Size?

Snake hooks come in different sizes, weight and strengths. When choosing a snake hook you should consider the size, weight and species of your snake and whether you are using primarily in an enclosure or for herping outdoors.

If using your snake hooks for herping, a longer and stronger snake hook is advised to help move material such as small logs and rocks.

If primarily using your snake hook in your snakes enclosure, a smaller and lighter reptile hookbcan be used to enable more movement and to help inspect under hide caves or other reptile accessories.

It is important that herpetologists also have snake baggers and snake bagsSnake baggers allow snake bags to be securely attached and crate a safe distance to striking snakes for safe handling and transportation. Snake bags are specially secured double stitched bags that ensure snakes are not able to escape through seams. These allow you to capture snakes and keep them somewhere comfortable and safe while you transport them. You can also use a snake bag to take your snake to the vet.


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