No, this isn’t the introductory paragraph to a turn-of-the-century, “snakehandling” cult brochure. Nor will it teach you how to go into the outback and become Crocodile Dundee. If you encounter a snake on your homestead you need to relocate, however, here are a few ideas on how to wrangle the slithery little bugger.
ENSURE THE SNAKE IS NOT VENOMOUS!!!
This is the primary and most important step of amateur snake handling. As mentioned, I am not here to turn you into a professional, nor do you likely have the sort of anti-venoms handy most professionals carry as their stock in trade. Before approaching the snake in question determine whether there is any possibility it is venomous before deciding how to proceed (hmmm, as there are 151 different species of snake in North America, 20 being venomous, perhaps this would make a good follow-up article … ).
If the snake in question turns out to be venomous, by no means approach it. Find yourself a long-handled net (at least ten feet–the kind used to skim a pool work well for this purpose), and attempt to scoop the snake into it. If the snake is alert, he will coil and strike at the net, but with persistence you should be able to coerce him in, or at least guide his movements in your preferred direction. Even if the snake is non-venomous, this is an excellent option should you wish to minimize contact. If the snake moves toward you, don’t worry. Provided you are a human in good health, you’ll easily be able to outstrip a snake.
While I hate to say it, as I avoid killing snakes whenever possible, some venomous snakes simply cannot take a hint (rattlers in particular), and if you have small children around, their presence is not an option. Fortunately, a strong .177-caliber airgun to the head will easily put them down, as will any .22, or shotgun.
It’s Not Venomous, and You’re Feelin’ Froggy
You’ve established the snake is not venomous, and you feel your best option for relocation is to pick it up. Don some thick gloves (if you’re squeamish about the possibility of puncture wounds), grab a stick and approach the snake. Body language is everything here. If the snake remains long and stretched out, as black rat snakes are prone to do, you’ll likely have no problem approaching. From here, grab the snake by its tail, and gently lift him up. While a snake does not have the muscle structure to curl up and bite your hand, it can thrash around enough to hit your body. To guard against this, take your stick (I like one with a small fork at the end with which to control the snake), and press it up against the snake’s body. This pressure will be enough to keep the snake safely away from you, while you carry it to its new home.
If the snake starts to move, curl or coil, you better believe he is ready to strike at you. Black racers are a non-poisonous snake known for this sort of aggressive behavior. If this occurs, but you still need to get your hands on the serpent, use your stick to distract the snake, tapping it on the ground in front of him, and allowing him to strike at it while you work your hand behind and grab him by the tail. From here, you will likely have to be a little more proactive with your snake stick, to keep the snake from thrashing, but the process remains largely the same as you escort the little bugger away.
Finally, if the snake is just too aggressive, throwing a towel over its head tends to calm it enough (albeit briefly) for you to be able to get a firm handle on.
Let me close by reiterating–please, please, PLEASE do not try this with anything venomous. I’m not one for warning labels, but in this case the threat of death is quite legitimate. Otherwise, happy hunting! I hope you enjoy your time with your scaly new friends. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll even consider one for a pet!
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”