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TOP TEN TIPS FOR SNAKE SAFETY
Tip 1 - This may be boring, but by far, the #1 tip, is to LEAVE SNAKES ALONE. Almost all cases of snake bite, a reported 99%, occur when people attempt to catch, pick up, or kill snakes. No snake will ever attack a human if unprovoked, and believe it or not, even stepping on venomous snakes like cottonmouths or rattlers rarely results in a strike. So just back away, leave the snake alone, and that's the safest thing you can do.
Tip 2 - This is also boring, but if you perform snake prevention techniques on your home or property, that'll lower the amount of snakes there, and lessen snake encounters.
Tip 3 - Use specialty snake handling tools when picking up or transporting any venomous snakes, or any snake that you can't identify, or which is aggressive. In the below photo, you can see me using both snake tongs (on the left, for thin snakes) or snake hooks, (middle and right, for fat snakes). I also transport snakes in a snake bag, or special snake sack on a pole. Keeping a distance is still important for pit vipers like rattlesnakes, because they can detect your heat and strike right through the snake bag!
Tip 4 - Wear snake boots and/or snake gaitors on your feet and legs when walking through snake country. In reality, as stated above, I suspect the number of times these boots have actually helped prevent venomous strike, especially without provoking the snake, is extremely low. But, better safe than sorry.
Tip 5 - Wear gloves. If you KNOW it's a non-venomous snake, you should still wear gloves, construction gloves or leather work gloves, or even thick welder's gloves, to protect you against bites when handling or holding snakes. Although many snakes can't envenomate, they can still cause injury, bacterial infection, and a lot of bleeding, due to the anticoagulant in snake saliva.
Tip 6 - If you are up against a Spitting Cobra in your suburban backyard lawn, which happens all the time here in the USA, wear glasses, as these snakes tend to aim for the eyes.
Tip 7 - Buy a snake trap. These traps secure the snake on a sticky glue pad, where it can't strike at all. You can then safely transport the snake.
Tip 8 - Hire a professional snake removal expert. Experience matters a great deal when properly handling wildlife, and in the case of snakes, in properly identifying the snake species.
Tip 9 - Learn your snake species, particularly in your area! Education is a wonderful tool in helping you keep safe around snakes. Just do an internet search for "snakes of [your state here], or for a good, general all-around knowledge of what snakes are dangerous, read my how to identify a poisonous snake page.
Tip 10 - I should say it again. Don't kill snakes. Don't shoot them, don't hit them with a shovel. I know you think you are a macho man who can take care of things himself, and you think you'll be safer without any snakes around, so you plan to kill them. SO MANY cases of snake envenomation happen during accidents when attempting to kill snakes - they are faster than you think, hard to kill, wild when injured, strike after they appear dead, etc. etc. Just leave them alone, they move on, you're safe.
Click here for my nationwide list of 100's of professional snake trappers serving all 50 states.
Picking up snakes by tail - You should avoid picking a snake up by the tail only. Most snakes lack the muscles to be able to curl up and bite your hand; however, they can thrash and squirm enough to easily catch you on another area of the body. Holding a snake by its tail elicits a panic response from the serpent and will make it more likely to strike. If you need to pick up a snake, you can use the tail to control the snake, but equal support should be at the front of the body through the use of a snake hook or your hand. You should generally avoid picking a snake up at all unless it is to safely transport it away from your property. Most snake bites happen when people attempt to handle a snake. Even though the vast majority of snakes are harmless, a bite still means puncture wounds, and puncture wounds are prone to infection. The best method for removing snakes is with the use of a glue trap. Glue traps will keep the snake held securely while your transport it to the relocation area. By spraying the glue with cooking oil, the snake will be able to free itself without you having to handle it.
Snake charmer - Snake charmers are people who seemingly have an innate ability to handle venomous snakes without being bitten. While you can debate the merits of snake charmers, the skill involved in handling the snakes is often remarkable. To the public, a snake charmer just seems very foolish, but these people often are well-versed in the art of reading a snake’s body language. Not only are they good at reading snakes, a charmer will be working with the same snakes over and over again. Just like any animal, a venomous snake can become used to a routine. Once the threat has left the experience, the snake will be much less inclined to get riled up every time it is taken out. There are, of course, some snake charmers who are just daredevils and who will eventually suffer multiple bites due to poor practice habits. These snake charmers are often seen performing on the side of a road, and their snakes are usually kept in tiny, unclean boxes. Just as with any profession, there are qualified snake charmers and those who should not be allowed to handle the animals. Unfortunately, it is a rather unregulated business.
Here are some other snake links:
How To Trap Snakes
What Animals Kill Snakes
Color Rhyme for Coral Snakes
How Can You Tell if a Snake is Poisonous
How to Kill Snakes
Snake Safety Tips
How to Catch Snakes
How Do You Keep Snakes Away
Do Mothballs Keep Away Snakes
Eastern Coral Snake
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Snakes in the Attic
Photographs of Snake Poop
Go back to my main snake removal page for more general snake info.