Venomous snake restraint: Gripping a rattlesnake from inside a tube

When backing a pit viper such as this Crotalus adamanteus (Eastern diamondback) out of a tube, be sure that your fingers are tight to the curve of the jawbone. You should actually be able to feel and control the back of the mandible. Some people prefer to do this with one or even two fingers on the head and the thumb and lower fingers controlling the mandible. During medication and assist feeding procedures I like to use the simple grip illustrated here, as I can better feel and control anything introduced down the snake's throat.

This is an example of a one-handed tube grip. The thumb and forefinger hold the tube while the other three fingers secure the snake's upper body. If this maneuver is not performed correctly with the right sized tube and/or the animal is strong enough to struggle violently, it could result in a bite.

You should not trust entirely to the security of a one handed tube grip. A second handler can control the lower body of the snake and may also help stabilize the tube while the first handler gives food or medication. If the tube becomes wet or slippery, this type of grip should not be attempted. Move back to the two handed grip if this happens - one hand on the snake, one hand on the tube.

This snake is having a prey item "milked" down into its stomach. A whole prey item was introduced into the mouth and pushed a short distance into the throat. Gentle hand motions similar to those used in milking a cow are used to mimic peristalsis and push the prey item down into the stomach. This method is less invasive and risky than using a probe to force the prey item down from inside the snake's body.

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