When a lot of us think of a snake in our house or our gardens we tend to conjure up images of 10-foot cobras rearing their heads at us ready to attack. They strike fear in our hearts and it is a situation that many of us would like to avoid.
Well, the good news is that most of us will probably live our entire lives without going through an experience like this. However, it is perfectly within the realm of possibility that a much smaller and likely harmless snakes make their way onto our property in search of food or a place to live.
This can be a big problem, especially if the snake is venomous or predatory. They’ll eat away at our gardens and could potentially cause problems if there are small children or animals in the home. Because of this, if you see a snake lurking around or even in your home, it is essential you find a way to trap it and get it out.
This might sound daunting, but actually, pretty much anyone can catch and remove a snake. We are going to discuss some of the easiest and most commonly used methods so that you can be prepared in the event something like this happens.
We will also go over some general rules of thumb and some good safety practices for dealing with snakes. Most serpents are harmless, but those that are not can be deadly. It is important you know how to catch a snake properly so that you don’t put yourself in danger. Let’s get into the details.
Safety Tips and General Rules of Thumb
No matter what type of snake has found its way into your home or garden, a snake bite is an unpleasant experience that no one wants to go through. Because of that, it is important to have an idea of how to act so that you can avoid any unnecessary pain and discomfort.
For that, we have come up with some general safety tips and behaviors for dealing with snakes that will help keep you out of danger.
- Identify the snake. If you are someone who likes to be outside or if you live in an area that is home to venomous snakes, it is a very good idea to be familiar with what lives around you.
If the snake is venomous, you will most likely want to steer clear from trying to capture it and it may be best to clear out of the area and hire a professional. Only proceed if you are positive it is not poisonous; if you are unsure, it is always better to assume the worst and take caution.
- Never grab a snake only by its tail. A little later on we will discuss a few methods for catching snakes and a few of them require you to actually grab a snake. It is very important to remember to never grab it simply by its tail.
If you must grab its tail, do so only as a way to keep it from moving and then try to grab it as close to its head as possible. If you only grab it by the tail you run the risk of it curling around and biting you when you are not paying attention. This is an extremely important thing to remember as you are going after snakes.
- When in doubt, hire a professional. When dealing with snakes, it is no time to try and be a hero. There are highly qualified people out there who are trained in this specific task.
If the snake is venomous and you are not sure how to go after it or if you can’t be certain which type of snake it is, do not proceed. Instead, swallow your pride and call someone in to take care of it. Even if it turns out to not be dangerous, it is always important to play it safe when dealing with snakes.
- Release the snake at a safe distance. Once you manage to get the snake under your control, you will want to release it. It is important to make sure you take the snake far enough away to make sure that it does not come back or so that it does not bother any other people in the area.
If you manage to catch a venomous snake, you will probably want to contact the authorities to find out how to best deal with it since freely releasing it back into the wild may do more harm than good.
As you move forward with trying to catch the snake, it is important that you keep these tips in mind. Safety is of utmost performance when dealing with snakes so do not try to do anything silly or to be too brave. Proceed with caution and don’t be afraid to call for help before something happens.
We mentioned earlier how it is important to identify the snake that you are trying to catch. Really, what is most important is that you determine whether or not it is poisonous. This will determine your plan of action as it will let you know how dangerous the situation is.
It is a good idea to do some research about the specific types of snakes in your area, but here is a short list with brief descriptions of those that are most commonly found in North America.
- Copperhead snake. These snakes get their name from the copper-colored triangular-shaped scales that run down their bodies. The color is strongest near the head and then slowly fades out to white along the length of the body. They are most commonly found in the eastern and mid-southern United States.
- Cottonmouth snake. If you encounter one of these snakes you will probably be taken aback by its size. These snakes can be anywhere between four and seven feet long.
Their eyes will be in the shape of slits and their bodies are bulky. Typically their skin is a dark brown or black. They can be found mostly in the Mississippi Valley and throughout much of the southern U.S.
- Diamondback rattlesnake. These snakes barely need their own description; anyone who has ever seen an old Western movie is familiar with the chilling sound these snakes make when they are in your area.
They have a very distinctive color scheme of black or brown diamonds with a white outline. This is by far one of the most recognizable venomous snakes out there and they can be very dangerous. If you find one, proceed with caution.
- Coral snake. These snakes tend to resemble other serpents that are not venomous so it is a good idea to make yourself very familiar with how they look so that you can accurately spot one.
They can be found across the entire Southern US as well as much of the east and are distinguishable by their universal black, yellow and red bodies and black heads. They typically only grow to be about 30 inches, but they are poisonous so be careful when approaching one.
What to Do If You’re Bitten by A Snake
If you follow the methods that we are going to discuss for how to catch a snake, you probably won’t have to deal with this. But, mistakes do happen and sometimes the snake can get the best of us.
If this happens, it is very important you know what to do because quick action is absolutely necessary. Should a snake bite you, follow these steps:
- Identify the snake. If you can safely say the snake is not poisonous, then treat the wound like you would any other cut. Apply pressure to stop any bleeding, clean it out thoroughly and cover it with a bandage.
Make sure to keep it clean and dry and contact a doctor if you feel any swelling, warmth or pain as it might be infected. If you know the snake is poisonous or you aren’t sure that it is not, follow the next steps.
If you can, you or someone with you should try to get a picture of the snake to show to the doctors so they can know what happened and determine the best treatment.
- Call for help. This is a pretty obvious step, but one that must be taken first. Time is of the essence when dealing with snake bites so it is important you call for help immediately.
Explain what happened and if you know which snake bit you be sure to tell them so that they can come prepared to best help you.
While you wait for help to come or while someone brings you to a hospital, there are a few things you can do to stay safe.
- Don’t suck and spit! This is a bit of a Hollywood invention that if performed can actually do more harm than good. If you do get bitten by a snake, try to resist the urge to do as they do in the movies and instead follow the important first aid tips we are going over right now.
This will dramatically increase your chances of coming out of the experience harm free.
- Apply pressure to the bite. If you have a towel or shirt or something similar nearby it is important to apply pressure to where the snake bit you. This will help stop the bleeding and will also help slow the spread of the venom to other parts of your body. If you have ice handy, it is a good idea to put ice on the spot of the bite as well.
- Tie something above the wound. You want to try and contain the venom as much as possible to prevent it from spreading to other parts of your body where it can do more damage.
To do this, you can tie some sort of a tourniquet above where the snake bit you. Don’t tie it so tight that you completely cut off circulation, but tie it tight enough to slow it down.
- Elevate the bite and stay calm. By propping up the area that has been bitten you are making it harder for your system to pump blood in and out of the area, which helps to slow the spread of the venom.
By the same logic, it is very important that you remain as calm as possible while you wait for help. Being overactive will cause your heart to pump faster and will spread the venom around your body faster. It may be hard to remain calm given the situation, but it is extremely important that you do so.
It is very important you are familiar with these steps before trying to catch any snakes. Some can be very dangerous and if things go wrong you might not have much time to react. Knowing the appropriate first aid steps can go a long way to minimizing the damage of a snake bite and in some extreme cases can actually save your life.
Methods for Catching Snakes
Now that we have taken a look at what to do to be safe and in the event of a bite, let’s go over some useful methods for actually catching these snakes. Hopefully, if you do them right then you won’t have to worry about all these first aid or safety tips.
The methods we are going to go over are largely divided into two types: those that require special tools/traps and those that don’t require anything or can be performed with simple things you likely have around the house. All can be effective depending on the type of snake and on how much snakes make you squirm.
Make a box trap
One effective method for catching snakes is to make a trap out of a box, some glue, and an egg. It is really quite a simple method that is best for those who maybe would like to catch the snake but also maintain a safe distance from it. For easy instructions on how to make a snake trap, see our article on this important topic.
To make this trap simply take a box and cover the bottom of it in some sort of slow drying glue. Place the box near the area where you have seen the snake, so likely near the garden, and then place the egg inside. That’s about it.
The egg should attract the snake and then when it comes into the box it will get stuck because of the glue. It is important to check back on the trap because the snake will likely starve if it stays there for too long. When you want to release it you can pour olive or some other vegetable oil on the snake and that will release it from the glue and allow it to get out of the trap.
Use a garbage can and a broom
If you are a little less bothered by snakes and want to get rid of it sooner, you can do so by grabbing a larger garbage can or a bucket and a broom. Place the garbage can in a corner or in some place that makes it hard for the snake to escape from.
Then, use the broom to push the snake around and to convince it to go inside the bucket. This may be a bit unnerving as the snake will likely not enjoy being pushed around, but with some perseverance, you should be able to get it to go inside the bucket. Once you do just carry the bucket a safe distance away and let the snake go.
Make sure to maintain a solid distance from the snake during this whole process because as we said it is likely to agitate the snake.
Throw a shirt or pillowcase over it
This method is only to be used for snakes that you know are not poisonous and also will most likely only be used if you happen to find the snake in your home. It is as simple as it sounds. When you find the snake simply grab a shirt, pillowcase, towel, blanket, etc. and throw it over the snake.
Make sure to cover the snake’s head as this will cause it to coil up and stop it from moving around. Once you have the snake covered, it is important to move fast. Using a bucket or a flat piece of cardboard or wood you will want to scoop the snake up while it is still covered.
Take it outside and bring it a safe distance away from the house. Right before you let it go, remove the thing that is covering it and then toss it into the woods or put the board or bucket down so that it can escape.
Again, this method is only to be used if you are positive the snake is harmless. It requires you to make close contact with the snake and therefore all caution should be used before using this method. It is simple but remarkably effective and efficient.
A net on a pole
If you have a fishing net or something similar around the house you can use it to catch a snake. One of the first things you will need to do is to make sure the net is attached to a pole that allows you to remain at least a few feet away from the snake.
If the net doesn’t come this way then you can simply tie it to a branch or to a rake or something similar. It needs to be big enough for the snake to fit entirely inside of it. Once you have your net, approach the snake slowly and quietly to make sure to not startle it and cause it to slither away.
Then, place the net open in front of the snake’s head and try to coax it inside. Placing the net in front of the snake is effective because it gives the snake the idea that it is a safe place.
This will cause it to enter willingly and this will make your job much easier. If the snake isn’t convinced by your net, you can try to place the net over the snake and scoop it up. This will be very difficult for large snakes and maybe even for small ones. If you can’t coax it in, you might want to think about using one of the other methods. Again, maintain your distance from the snake, especially if it is venomous.
Use your hands or a snake hook
This is the method that most professionals would use and that you can too if you have the proper equipment. Basically, you need a specialized snake hook or, if you are dealing with a snake that you know is harmless, you can simply use your hands. To catch a snake using this method you will need to get relatively close to it. Take the hook or one of your hands and try to get the snake by the tail. Once you do, lift it up a little and hold it there.
Make sure you are wearing gloves while you do this. Once you have the tail elevated, slide the hook farther up the snake and trap the head. If you are using your hands at this point you just grab the snake’s head while keeping your other hand on its tail.
With the snake secured, lift it up and keep it outstretched so that it can’t coil up. Carry it off to a safe location and let it go. Again, be very careful with this method and only use it if you are 100 percent sure the snake is harmless.
With a branch or forked stick
If you have some tool lying around the house that has two prongs and is shaped like a fork, it could be used to catch the snake. A branch or something with the same shape can also be used if you don’t have this type of tool available to you.
This method will probably work best on smaller, non-venomous snakes as it will require you to get pretty close to the animal. With the fork, get near the snake and try to pin it in the fork as close to the head as you can.
Once you have it pinned, apply some pressure so that it calms down, but don’t apply so much so as to do harm to the snake. Once you have the snake in this position you can push it from side to side to guide its motion.
By doing this you can push it away from your property or if you want to be extra safe you could push it into a net or a bucket like we discussed earlier and then use this to move the snake far away from you. Again, this method is best for snakes that can’t do you much harm should they bite you.
No More Fear of Snakes
Now that we have gone over some simple ways of how to catch a snake, the idea of one making it into your home or garden should be much less frightening. The most important thing to do is to identify the snake.
Once you know what you are going up against you will be much better prepared to take the proper steps to help get it off your property. Safety is important, but once you are sure there is no danger, these methods we have discussed will prove very effective in helping you clear the area of any slithering serpents.
What do you do to catch snakes? We’ve gone over some of the methods one can use, but there are surely more. Send in your tips and ideas and join the discussion. Have you ever had a scare with a snake? Get in touch with us and share.
However, if you’ve never had an encounter with a snake we hope that the information provided here will help you approach the situation calmly and safely. Now that you know how to catch a snake, when one comes close it should be much easier to deal with it and the experience will be much less traumatic. Check out our earlier piece on how to stay safe when camping to learn more.