Venomous snake restraint: Using a snake hook

Karl Betz of the Southeastern Hot Herp Society demonstrates how to use two hooks to safely and comfortably support the weight of a rhino viper (Bitis nasicornis). The snake is being held well away from his body, and the hooks are long enough that he can support them under his arms for balance and additional security.

When you hook a snake, you want to think in terms of thirds of its body. If you have two hooks, place them so that they divide the snake's body into roughly equal thirds. If you are using a single hook, reach for the upper third of its body (the placement of the blue hook on the left). The snake will probably move forward, leaving your hook somewhere between a third and halfway down its body. You want to keep the animal as well balanced as possible and keep it from moving so far forward that it falls off.

If the snake moves forward too quickly, you can try again - this time aim higher and lift more quickly so that you get it off the ground before it can advance more than halfway. If one hook is not enough, you may have success with two.

Some snakes are too fast, too bad tempered or too small and slippery to hook very well. Other tools may be more appropriate for their management, including trap boxes, scoops and gloves for smaller snakes and the Pro Bagger for really hard cases like the big nasty cobras and mambas.

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