Venomous snake restraint: Tubing elapids

Like most fast moving elapids, this attractive Eastern green mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps) wasn't easy to tube. She had to be gently pinned about four inches below her neck to keep her from moving too quickly and avoiding the tube as it was slipped over her head.

Tubing elapids can be much more difficult than tubing pit vipers, because they are faster-moving and can duck and weave very effectively to avoid the tube. One good tactic is to use a hook or tongs to pin or grasp the animal a few inches behind the neck while you get the tube on its head. A second handler may be tailing the animal or using an additional pinning or grasping tool on the body. Very large elapids are most effectively tubed with the aid of Midwest's Pro Bagger tool.

Because elapids can move very quickly, it is a good idea to have a cap or block on the end of the tube to prevent the snake's shooting out the other end. You can also use a full length tube and back the animal out of it with a secure head grip, then introduce a shorter tube over the snake's head that allows you access to the snake's cranial area.

To make tubing easier, you may start by introducing a larger diameter tube over the snake's head and sliding a smaller tube inside for a tighter fit once the animal is secured. If you use too large of a tube, the snake may attempt to turn around and may become stuck in the tube. If this happens, carefully use heavy scissors to cut the tube and release the snake.

If the animal does succeed in getting its head and neck out the far end of the tube, you should drop the whole mess into the nearest secure container and let the snake exit the tube. Attempting to pull it back once it gets leverage on the other end can cause injury to the snake and should not be attempted.

Because elapids have much better supporting musculature than crotalids, they can be gripped behind the head with less fear of injury to the animal. Their bodies must still be properly supported and their full weight should never be allowed to dangle from a neck grip. Click here for an article on elapid head grips.

Safely releasing a large or very fast moving elapid from a tube can be a little more difficult than a safe release for smaller or slower snakes. If you have a tall container such as a trash can with a locking lid, you can use gravity to help you perform the release while holding one end of the tube. You can also use hemostats or even long tongs for removal of the tube as shown here. You may want a second handler to position his or her hook on the snake's body first for better control as you withdraw.

Return to Index