Snake Pinning Tools

A good snake pinning tool should have a soft surface such as foam or rubber padding as well as a firm support backing. Depending on how it will be used, a snake pinning tool can be almost any shape and size. Shown in this photo from Reptile World Serpentarium are long, narrow pinners which are used two at a time. One pinner secures the body and the other covers the head just behind the eyes so that the handler can get a secure grip on the snake's neck.

Pinners are best used in conjunction with a pinning mat, both to protect the snake's fragile bones and to provide some traction so that the snake doesn't slide out from under the tool. One of the best snake pinning surfaces is a product sold for lining shelves or putting under rugs to help prevent slipping. This slightly tacky foam rubber gripping mat works very well in conjunction with any padding such as a 1/4" to 1/2" foam camping sleep roll.

Another pinning design is the jigger stick, a pole with a U-shaped or Y-shaped end which holds a thick band of flexible rubber. Like all of the narrow pinners, this tool is best used with additional support to avoid injury to the animal. Tongs or a second pinner are recommended. A jigger stick is sold by Midwest, but I prefer not to use this product by itself because the pinning head is too small and narrow. It does make an acceptable head pinner in elapids if a second, broader tool is used to restrain the snake's body. A narrow pinner does not provide sufficient neck support to avoid trauma injury if the snake struggles suddenly under your restraint. Crotalids are particularly vulnerable to this type of injury and extra care should be taken in their pinning.

A pinning tool invented by Paul Rowley of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to give extra support to crotalids with fragile neck structures is the tube style snake pinner. This tool can be somewhat difficult to get over a snake's neck if the animal is not lying out straight, but it is very effective and less likely to cause injury. Learn how to build our American adaptation of Paul Rowley's design.

An exellent if nontraditional pinning tool that I have adapted is a thin plastic cutting board with a long handle. This can be used unpadded if your pinning surface is soft, or padded with 1/4" closed cell foam glued to the board. Rather than using this tool to get a grip on the snake's neck directly, the animal's body is pinned under the board leaving several inches of head and neck free. A short tube is then slipped over the head and the body grasped as the board is lifted. The bread board pinner can also be used along with one of the narrower tools if you want to get a head pin for grasping the snake's neck.

The handle of the heavy duty collapsible hook from Midwest makes an excellent pinning tool as it is well padded with soft material. You can also purchase closed cell foam from any craft store and attach it to the sides of your hooks with glue or electrical tape. An example of this is shown in this gallery of pinning tool photos.

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