How to Catch a Snake

Three Methods:Catching a SnakeMaking and Using a Trap to Catch a SnakeCatching a Snake by Hand

Whether you need rid of a garden pest, or just want a closer look at these fascinating creatures, catching a snake is possible, even for non-professionals. Snakes can be dangerous, but by taking basic precautions, you can catch one with minimal danger.

Method 1
Catching a Snake

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    Coax the snake into a net. You can catch a snake using a long slender object like a badminton or tennis racket, or a long broom handle attached to a mosquito net. When you see the snake, you'll want to get quickly to the scene. Place your net in front the snake's head and coax the snake into the net. The long slender object you attach to the net should be long enough to keep your body a safe distance from the snake, while attempting to net it. Once the snake enters the net, lift up the net immediately to prevent the snake from getting out. [1]
    • Make sure your net is large enough for the snake you're aiming to catch.
    • The net in front of the snake's head is effective because the snake will interpret it as a place of safety and willingly enter it.
    • Approach the snake carefully and quietly. If you run over to the snake loudly you will provoke it to move away quickly, or worse, bite.
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    Use a garbage can and broom. This is a simple way to catch a snake without having to directly handle it. Take a large garbage can and lay it on its side. Coax the snake, using the broom, into the garbage can. You can then move the garbage can to where you would like to release the snake.
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    Pin the snake down. Do this by placing a forked stick directly behind its head and applying pressure. The amount of pressure you will need to apply all depends on the size of the snake but it should be enough to keep it from moving its head without hurting the animal.
    • There are special snake forks that can do this more effectively than a common stick.
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    Use items around your house to catch a snake. If a snake gets into your house and you want to quickly remove it, you may have to act quickly with the items at hand. Use an old shirt, and a pillow case. Toss the rumpled up tee shirt over the snakes head and upper body. The snake will generally be afraid and coil up under the cloth.
    • Without delay, place the pillowcase down over the shirt. Slide the edge firmly along the floor, scooping up the shirt and snake together. This can be done with a lingerie bag if it is large enough and you are not squeamish and know the snake is not venomous.

Method 2
Making and Using a Trap to Catch a Snake

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    Use a glue trap. This is a common and inexpensive trap available at most hardware stores. The trap will be a box with glue on the bottom. The box will have bait and lure the snake into the box where the glue will prevent it from leaving. For bait you can use frozen mice available at pet stores or common eggs from the grocery store. [2]
    • Make sure to check the glue trap regularly. The snake will still be alive and immobile and after a few days could run the risk of dying of starvation.
    • Choose a trap big enough for the snake you want to catch. If the trap is too small, the snake still may be able to get away, dragging the glue trap along. This will also likely kill the snake.
    • Use a vegetable or olive oil to remove the snake from the glue trap. Pour olive or vegetable oil on the snake in an area you want it released. This will remove the stickiness of the glue and allow the snake to slither away unharmed.
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    Make your own snake trap. You can do this using a plastic bottle, such as an empty two-liter, bait, and scissors. Clean the bottle so there are no smells that would scare a snake away. Cut a small hole, big enough for the snake to enter, in the bottle. Once the snake feeds on the bait it will be too large to leave back through the same hole it entered through.
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    Use a minnow trap. Wired traps used for catching minnows are great. Put some eggs in the trap to lure the snake in. They will be able to find their way in but will be unable to get out once they eat the eggs. [3]

Method 3
Catching a Snake by Hand

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    Make sure the snake is safe for handling. All snakes may bite if provoked, but some pack more of a punch and are poisonous. It can be hard for someone without an expertise in snakes to tell from only looking at a snake, so proceed with caution. If you suspect that a snake is venomous, do not try to catch it with your hands. Some of the most common U.S. based poisonous snakes are:
    • Copperhead snakes. These are found most commonly in the eastern and mid-southern states. They get their name from unique copper colored scales on their head that slowly fade throughout the rest of their body.Their markings are often triangular in shape. [4]
    • Cottonmouth snake.These are usually four to seven feet in length. They are generally a dark shade of brown or a dull black. They have pupils that are shaped like slits and have a bulky body. They are found predominantly in the southern U.S., throughout Florida and the Mississippi River region. [5]
    • Diamondback Rattlesnake. These can grow up ten feet long. They are recognized by their distinctive black or brown diamond patterns down their bodies outlined in a light shade of yellow. They are a rattlesnake, and as that name implies, they have a series of hollow segments on the end of their tale that create a rattle sound when its shook. They live in the southern and south western parts of the U.S. and some of Mexico. [6]
    • Coral snake. These snakes can be difficult to recognize since it resembles other similar species. They are found in the eastern, southwestern, and southeastern portions of the U.S. They can grow to be around thirty inches. They are universally a red-yellow-black-yellow pattern with black heads. They are venomous, so you should be very careful if you think you spot one.[7]
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    Grab a snake with caution. Catching a snake by hand is a little trickier, and should be done with caution. However, if you do not have any tools or nets handy, you can catch a snake using your hands. Use an object to distract the snake's head, like a stick. Firmly grasp its tail and lift the snake upwards, leaving the front part of its body on the ground, but keeping your legs and body as far away as possible. Place the snake in a pillow case or sack immediately. [8]
    • If you know how to safely approach a snake, you can also grab the snake by the back of head to neutralize its chances of biting you. However, getting so close to the snake's head can be risky. If you use this method, it may be best to have a tool, such as a snake fork, that can pin the head down before you reach for it.
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    Use gloves to handle snakes. Besides the risk of biting, snakes can also carry harmful bacteria. Make sure to use gloves to prevent your risk of catching a bacterial infection from the snake.
    • If you do not have gloves, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching the snake. Do not handle food or touch anyone else before you have washed your hands thoroughly.


  • If you are afraid of getting bitten, wear thick leather gloves, as most snakes will have a hard time biting through the hardened leather. However, depending on the kind of snake, it might be able to bite through, and gloves will impede your dexterity.
  • Snakes can be caught without the use of a distraction, but it is much easier and safer to distract a snake before grabbing it. Not to mention that it gets the head pointed away from you, which is how you have to grab it.
  • If you do not have an area to release the snake, you can put it into an old pillowcase and transport it to a fitting place. If traveling by car, remember to tie a tight knot at the end or you may have a snake loose in your car!
  • Always be very gentle with snakes, and avoid angering them if at all possible. They are scared of you, and most of the time you can shoo them out of your yard without ever touching them at all.
  • If you are planning to keep your snake as a pet, make sure that you keep a heavy object on top of the terrarium, because snakes are terrific escape artists. Or, you can get a sliding screen lid with a lock, or maybe even one with a tab that the plastic slides into and you can lift it to open.
  • One way to remember how to identify the coral snake, a venomous snake found in the Southeastern U.S., particularly Florida and Georgia, is this rhyme: "Red and Yellow: Kill a Fellow.", "Red and Black: Venom Lack.". This rule becomes unreliable as you travel further south toward Central America.
  • It is not safe and children should not attempt this.
  • When handling a snake, it will want to slither through your hands, which is natural. After you pick up a snake, some species like the common Garter Snake will try to jump off your hand. You should handle it by keeping your hands about 10–12 inches (25.4–30.5 cm) apart, and rotate them so that the snake has someplace to go instead of dropping to the ground. Also, letting it run through your separated fingers is acceptable.
  • Woods of south Wisconsin are great to catch snakes in the summer.
  • Don't kill snakes unless absolutely necessary, such as if it is an immediate threat to a pet or child. Instead of killing, try calling a local catch-and-release organization.
  • Consider getting professional training if venomous snakes are a frequent problem. There are venomous snake handling courses, such as the Australian snake handling course which may help, especially if you are thinking of becoming a venomous reptile handler.
  • Wash your hands well--snakes and other reptiles sometimes carry bacteria. While usually a minor concern, there have been examples of serious illness and even death in humans who have handled reptiles that carry the bacteria


  • Remember that snakes are wild animals and can react unpredictably when threatened. And your being near it is threatening it. Always exercise extreme caution when catching snakes.
  • Snakes' heads are remarkably flexible. Avoid grabbing the snake by the head as some snakes (especially certain venomous types) can actually bite you even when held in this fashion.
  • Try to avoid picking snakes up only by their tail. Most snakes cannot curl their bodies up to bite your hand, but they can easily bite your leg or even crotch. Use a long stick or other long object to cradle the first foot or so of its body. If you have to pick a snake up only by its tail, get a firm, but gentle grasp and hold it as far as possible from your body.
  • It may be illegal to keep a wild snake as a pet in your jurisdiction. A wild snake may also be scared of the home you are providing for it, and not eat. If you do keep a snake in captivity for more than 30 days, it will have a hard time surviving in the wild, if you decide you don't want it. So make sure you are ready to accept the responsibility of caring and maintaining a cold-blooded reptile.
  • Incorrect advice can be fatal. If in doubt, don't.

Things You'll Need

  • Snake
  • Snake-stick
  • Transport-vessel for the snake
  • Place to release the snake
  • Large garbage can with lid, broom
  • A hollow stick, a length of rope
  • Tee shirt, pillowcase, and secure lidded container or lingerie bag
  • Large plastic container with air holes

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