If you have determined that the snake needs to be transported out of the area, you will need to safely contain the animal. Use your knowledge of the snake and the area to make this determination. Remember, if the snake needs to be moved more than 500 feet from the capture site, a wildlife expert should be responsible for relocating the animal or finding it a responsible home. Randomly relocating wildlife is not a good idea, and in some cases it is against the law.
For a snake you have positively identified as harmless, temporary containment can be as simple as a knotted sack or a pillowcase secured with a cable tie. Large, strong constrictors such as king snakes and rat snakes can make their way out of an improperly tied bag or even tear the seams of a poorly sewn sack. Do not leave snake sacks unattended, especially in your car. All animals including snakes (and humans) can see through a standard cloth pillowcase that is right over their eyes. Vipers (rattlesnakes and cottonmouths) can deliver a bite through a cloth bag with their long fangs. Use only solid, sturdy containers for venomous snakes.
Florida law requires that venomous snakes be transported in a sturdy padlocked container such as a ventilated tool box or tackle box that is clearly marked "Poisonous Reptiles". Never leave a live animal in a locked container in direct sunlight. Transport the animal to a suitable facility as soon as possible, or phone Snake Getters for pickup.
Use "Snake-Jitsu": Safely containing snakes is easy if you know the secrets of "Snake-Jitsu" and how snakes like to behave. An empty wastebasket, cardboard box or garbage tipped onto its side near the snake makes an attractive enough hiding place that a snake usually does not mind being prodded or swept inside. A piece of crumpled newspaper or cloth in the bucket can sometimes be effective in encouraging the snake to go inside and stay inside, because it has something to hide under. A more stubborn animal can be lifted with hook or tongs and placed inside a secure container. Or you can use a snake bagstick and a hook to encourage the snake to move into the bag where it can be secured.
View a tutorial from the University of Florida that will teach you to safely sweep a snake into a container without ever touching it. You can also place a bowl, a bucket, a wastebasket or a garbage can over a snake that is resting on a flat surface. Make sure the mouth of the container is larger than the snake. If the snake is smaller than the length of the container and you can keep at a safe distance while doing this, you may use your hands. A safe distance is one snake-length away from the snake.
To extend your reach, use duct tape to fasten the handle of a broom or mop to the bottom of a bucket. To keep the snake from escaping, place heavy weights on top of the bucket and do not leave it unattended. Call a snake expert immediately for pickup and identification. If the bucket is in direct sunlight, wet a towel and place it over the bucket, and provide shade if possible. Do not attempt to move the container once the snake has been secured underneath it. Do not attempt this technique if the snake is on uneven or rocky ground.
Important Safety Rule: The most important rule for handling snakes safely is that if you don't cause the snake pain, the snake probably won't cause you pain. The techniques that are the safest and most successful are painless and gentle ones that do not force the snake to desperately struggle and fight for its life. Use long tools that extend your reach and give a snake one snake-length of space from all parts of your body. Good "Snake-Jitsu" means gaining control of the situation quickly, calmly, safely and without unnecessary violence.
A good temporary safety container is one that you can put a snake into easily and is too large for the snake to immediately escape from. The bigger the snake, the bigger the temporary container you will need. The container should be taller than the snake is long. Good temporary containers include wastebaskets, buckets and garbage cans. Cardboard boxes may also be used if they are large and tall enough, and the flaps taped shut with duct tape. A temporary safety container is not the same as a secure, locking container for transport. A snake should never be left unattended in a temporary container.
Move the container to the snake, donít move the snake to the container: Before you even begin to pick up, prod or otherwise disturb a snake, place the temporary container as close to the animal as possible. You want to minimize the amount of time the snake is actually being moved or handled.
Once a snake is safely inside the large temporary container, you can call a local snake expert for pickup and transport or you can attempt to transfer the animal to a smaller, lockable secure container if you need to transport it yourself. A secure container is a sturdy ventilated box of solid construction that can be locked. An inexpensive tool or tackle box can be ventilated with a few dozen holes from a small drill or soldering iron and fitted with a padlock. When you are transporting venomous snakes in this box, it should be clearly marked "Poisonous Snakes" and securely locked.
Some temporary safety containers can be made secure enough for transport, but some cannot be. Some secure transport containers are large enough to be able to safely move a snake inside them directly, but larger snakes may be able to escape before you can close the lid.
Transferring Between Containers: Attempting to transfer a venomous or unidentified snake into a container that is smaller in any dimension than the snake is long is a risk you may not wish to take. You may not have a securely locking compartment in your vehicle that is large enough to transport a snake that has been temporarily contained in a garbage can. If possible, call a snake expert to take charge of the animal. A bag stick is a tool that will allow you to secure a snake in a cloth bag without touching it so that it can be placed in a locked box for legal transport. Never put your bare hands on a cloth bag containing a venomous snake. Use tools to manipulate the bag.
Decide if the snake needs to be secured for transport out of the area.
If the snake needs to be moved more than 500 feet, leave relocation to an expert.
Secure known harmless snakes in cloth bags with a cable tie.
Snakes can see and bite through cloth bags.
Secure venomous snakes in sturdy containers, or with a bag inside a container.
Venomous snakes must be transported locked and labelled.
Move the container to the snake to minimize handling time.
Use a container that is taller than the snake is long.
Never leave live animals unattended or in the sun.