Snakes can be harmful to your pets and loved ones. Venomous snakes especially are very dangerous as their bites can be lethal. Aside from snake bites, some snakes are carriers of dangerous bacteria hence the need to learn how to catch snakes and rid your surrounding of these fearful reptiles.
You can catch a snake using minnow traps baited with eggs and frozen mice or use high-tech snake traps. Glue traps are also excellent options to catch a snake, getting the snake stuck on its bottom. You can remove the snake from the glue trap with vegetable or olive oil.
There is a need for maximum caution and skill when catching snakes yourself. The snake can attack and bite you. If it is a venomous snake, such bites can kill within minutes.
How to Catch Snakes in Yard
Snakes tend to stay in your basement and garden. Another common place to find snakes in your yard is your chicken coop. While there are several ways to catch a snake, we will recommend that you apply only humane approaches like affordable minnow traps or DIY snake traps using healthy baits.
Use glue traps
Glue traps can be very effective in catching the snakes in your yard. The size of the glue trap matters as a bigger snake may drag a smaller trap along escaping with it. Glue traps don’t cost much; they work readily with cheap baits like eggs or mice. If the snake is lured in by the bait, the stickiness of the glue trap will grip the bottom of the snake, making it extremely difficult for it to move away.
Glue traps will not kill the snake; they instead immobilize it. This is why we recommend always checking your glue traps so that a snake if possibly caught, doesn’t starve to death. If you see a snake stuck on these glue traps, you can use vegetable oil to neutralize the stickiness; freeing the snake in a location you deem fit. This will allow the snake to wriggle away.
Use minnow traps
Glue traps may not be the best options if you have a sizable snake population to deal with in your yard. In such scenarios, you can adopt minnow traps if the snakes to be caught are many. The generality of minnow traps are cylindrical in shape and are made of wire meshes. These traps consist of double-end holes inverting inside the minnow trap. It is simple to use.
You will need to insert the bait you want to use. Eggs are preferably used with minnow traps. Fix it up with the cylinder resting on its side, gently placing the egg bait in the center of your minnow trap. Therefore, these eggs will lure the snake in, crawling through either of the holes of the minnow trap. Once in, it would be impossible to come out again. You can easily find minnow traps in fishing supply stores in your area for low prices.
Locating the trap in your yard
The location of the trap is very important, whether you are using minnow traps or glue traps. Make sure to set the trap where you have previously noticed snake activity. This can be your chicken coop, garden, or even your basement. So long snakes frequent the location of the trap, you don’t need to worry about camouflaging the trap.
The trap must be closely tightly if you are using minnow traps. In the case of a glue trap, the latch must be firmly clasped. More than baiting the minnow trap, a bit of technique is required when dealing with the caught snake. If mishandled, the snake can quickly escape or attack you upon opening the minnow trap. This is why we will not advise you to use minnow traps to catch venomous snakes.
It is recommended to regularly check on the trap to know if it has caught any snake. It is not only inhumane to let the snake die of starvation, it is not healthy too. The dead snake will quickly begin to decompose, making a mess of your yard. If you are using a minnow trap, you can clearly see if a snake has been caught as the reptile would habitually coil around the egg bait.
However, if you are using glue traps, you would have to open the box’s top to have a look inside whether a snake is inside. If you don’t want to undo the latch, you can infer there is a snake inside if the trap appears heavier than normal when you lift it.
What is Good Bait for Snakes?
The effectiveness of your snake trap is determined significantly by your choice of bait. If you can’t get live baits or eggs, you can resort to commercially produced substances that smell like live baits to attract the snake into the trap. It is essential to point out here that snakes are not scavengers and will barely eat dead meat. Let us look at some of the commonly used baits that snakes love.
You will agree that snakes specially love eggs. These are rich proteinaceous food sources for snakes hence you see snakes regularly traffic chicken coops so long it is big enough to scare the bird out of the nest. If you don’t have bird eggs, you can use fish eggs in baiting your trap, although this is a scarce choice for land snakes.
Snakes also relish small rodents. Mice are particular favorites of snakes just like rats. These rodents are very nutritious to the snake. You can also use frozen mice (thawed) as it is not easy to keep a live rat calmly in your snake trap. These baits are not expensive and appeal much to a snake.
Birds and Fish
While we previously mentioned that a snake would scare a bird out of its nest to eat the eggs, bigger snakes would eat the bird itself. Bigger snakes will kill a chicken by coiling around it while quickly swallowing up smaller birds. Therefore you can bait your trap with birds depending on the species and size of the snake. Also, you can use fish baits cutting across large bass to small minnows. It all depends on the snake in your premises.
Snakes like insects. Smaller snake species like the garter snake are fond of insects like cockroaches, crickets and even mealworm insect larva. These insects make excellent baits to draw the snake into your trap.
Lizards and snakes
Snakes eat lizards hence you can use them as baits. There are extreme conditions of snakes eating smaller snakes. This is common with king snakes like the king cobra.
How Can You Tell if a Snake is Poisonous?
Poisonous snakes are dangerous. Venomous snakes commonly have many colors, unlike nonpoisonous snakes that have one unique color all through. This isn’t enough to tell poisonous snakes however as cottonmouths can have one solid color too.
You can also tell a poisonous snake from the shape of its head. Venomous snakes tend to have significantly shaped triangular heads because of the venom glands while their nonvenomous variants tend to have heads shaped like a spoon. Coral snakes, however, don’t have notably triangular-shaped heads.
In the U.S., the four types of poisonous snakes you are likeliest to come across are the coral snakes, rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads. Let us look at how you can identify these poisonous snakes.
Just as you infer from the name, these venomous snakes have a button-like rattle on the end of their tails. Note that other nonvenomous snakes can mimic the rattle when they brush their tails through leaves, the button-like trait is peculiar to rattlesnakes. If you can’t easily identify this rattle, you can tell a rattlesnake by its elliptical cat-like eyes with a heavy triangular head.
You tell if the snake is a cottonmouth from its pupil shape and color. Cottonmouths commonly have green and black pupils which are elliptical in shape. In the U.S., the sides of the head of cottonmouths have white stripes.
Cottonmouths are found in water-bordering regions although they have an impressive adaptation to living on land. You can also tell cottonmouths from the color of their tails as the tails of the younger ones typically are sharp yellow.
Copperheads share a resemblance with copperheads in their appearance. You can, however, tell a copperhead from a cottonmouth as the former’s color is notably sharper coming mostly in peach, bright orange, silver-pink or coppery brown. You will also know them by the yellow tails of younger copperheads.
Coral snakes look like most venomous snakes and can be very attractive. Coral snakes have yellow heads striped with red, yellow and black bands. A coral snake peculiarly has a black band over its nose.
What Should I Do With A Snake After I Catch It?
The way you handle a snake after you kill it is crucial. If you don’t want to relocate it, try to kill it humanely. If you opt to relocate it, you must bear in mind the regulations controlling relocation of snakes in your jurisdictions. This is because snakes are generally considered pest animals so you can’t relocate them anyhow.
In some jurisdictions, the laws forbid you from relocating snakes over county lines. In other areas, you are free to transfer a snake with restricted distances like some hundred feet from where you caught it.
It is best to transport the snake to where you intend to release it in the trap. Otherwise, if you are traveling far to relocate it, you may consider moving the snake into a cage equipped with a lid to shut it off. When you want to release it, you can undo the lid. If it is a glue trap you are using, you can pour your olive oil (or vegetable oil) on the trap to free the snake from its stickiness.
Generally, try to avoid releasing the caught snake near commercial or domestic properties. This will downsize the possibility of the snake tormenting another family or premise. Preferably, release the snake where you have dense undergrowth where the snake can live and find suitable preys to feed on.
When releasing the snake, keep a far distance from it (and be prepared to move off quickly in the opposite direction) as there have been many cases of snakes getting aggressive once they are released from the trap.
Why Would a Snake Bite You?
Snakes bites mostly are acts of self-defense. If a snake doesn’t classify you as food, it would rarely bite you unless you appear as a threat to it. This is why you see common snake bites result from accidental treading on snakes. In such a scenario, the snake interprets it as an attack and would most likely respond with a bite.
Snakes will also bite you if you want to catch it – especially when you don’t have the experience to do so correctly. Snake see any animal trying to pick them up as a predator who wants to eat them. If a female snake sees you are trying to hurt its eggs, it will attack and bite you too. It would amaze you to learn that the United States alone records an annual average of 8,000 snake bites.
If you don’t step on snakes too quickly, they tend to flee if they notice you on a path. Most snakes don’t have vision handicaps, although they would yet see you and hide in nearby undergrowth if available. If you don’t appear too aggressive or if you walk away, the snake will not attack and bite you in self-defense.
Overall, try to stay far away from a wild snake and don’t attempt to handle them as they would easily perceive you as a direct threat and bite you. It is interesting to note that you can still get bitten by a dead snake.
What is the First Aid for a Snake Bite?
Snake bites if not promptly attended to can kill, especially if from venomous snakes. First aid is crucial immediately a snake bites you.
It is common to be frightened when a snake bites you, but the last thing you need then is panic. If you panic too much, it will raise your pulse and should it be a venomous snake bite, the venom will quickly travel through your body, damaging you. Therefore strive to maintain your calm when bitten by a snake – staying as quiet and still as you can manage.
Also, try to memorize the shape of the snake and its size and color. You would need to make such descriptions to emergency staff. If you have jewelry around the region that was bitten, remove them to avoid a scenario where your limb swells and the jewelry cuts into your skin.
Now clean the face of the bite with water and soap. You can then reach out to your healthcare provider who may need to administer a tetanus shot on you depending on when last you got one. It would help if you had tetanus boosters every ten years.
There are common misconceptions associated with first aid treatment of snakebites. Refrain from attempting to suck the venom out of the bite. It is very dangerous. Don’t even try cutting the wound in the hope of making the poison bleed out. Avoid the costly mistake of rubbing chemicals or ice on the surface of the bite.
Are Snake Bites Painful?
The pain or sting you feel from a snake bite is mostly determined by the size and species of the snake. Smaller snakes commonly have needle-sharp teeth but don’t have fangs unless they are poisonous. You wouldn’t feel much pain when bitten by this type of snakes, although it could bleed freely.
When bitten by a cobra, you may not feel the pain immediately. However, a viper bite is notably painful because of the viper’s venom. If a big constrictor bites you too, you would feel severe pains and even suffer tendon damage.
These snake species bite straight to the bone courtesy of their long needle-sharp teeth. To reduce the pain and consequent damage when a big snake bites you, don’t try to forcefully push the animal away or move too quickly.
What Would Happen if a Snake Bites You?
Depending on the snake that bites you, you could face a range of symptoms. For example, when a rattlesnake bites you, aside from the acute pain you would feel, you can also experience muscle weakness and fatigue, increased thirst, low blood pressure, or dropping eyelids.
If bitten by a copperhead, the symptoms are quite similar to that which you would experience when bitten by water moccasin snakes. You could notice a change in the color of your skin, encounter shock, fatigue, and low blood pressure as well.
If a coral snake bites you, you wouldn’t feel the pain at once, but after some hours, you could experience convulsions, migraine, abdominal pains, paralysis, shock, difficulty in swallowing and dropping eyelids.
When a snake bites you, you would generally notice increased difficulty in breathing. If this is not promptly resolved, this could prove fatal. When a cobra bites you, the cardiotoxins contained in the venom is very destructive to your system and will disrupt your heart pumping and blood circulation. Cardiotoxic complications most times result in high blood pressure and eventual death.
Can Snake Bite Through Clothes?
Snakes can bite through clothes depending on the thickness and resistance of the clothes. When you wear sturdier and snake-resistant clothes, the fangs of the snake would barely penetrate your skin. It is also wise to wear loose-fitting clothes, as opposed to body-hugging clothes.
The vacuum between the cloth and your skin would buffer the intensity of the snake bite. If you are wearing loose-fitting jeans, that should be fastened around the boot or extend reasonably below the top of your shoes.
The fabric of your clothes while optimally dense should yet be comfortable. Go for heavy denim clothes, preferably those loose-fitting ones with about two-inches spacing between your skin and the fabric. Denim fabric will most likely absorb the bulk of the venom passing barely a third to your skin.
You can also wear anti-snake gaiters made from Cordura or other sturdier nylon materials. There are even hard plastic clothes to wear in regions famed for snake bites.
Is It Illegal to Kill a Snake?
It is illegal to kill an endangered snake species. Threatened snake species are protected by law courtesy the Endangered Species Act of 1973. In most American states, killing a snake is discouraged as snakes are classified as non-game animals. The regulations on killing snakes in the U.S. differ depending on the state you are.
For example, if you are in Arizona, Massasauga rattlesnakes, ridge nosed and twin spotted, rock snake species are protected by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. You can get sentenced to prison or pay a fine if you kill any of these snakes. Aside from these species, you can hunt any other type of snake in Arizona so long you have a hunting license.
Other than these endangered species, you can kill other snakes without breaking the law. The issue here is that not everyone can accurately and calmly identify an endangered snake species when they see one. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the likes of Louisiana pine snakes, Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, Lake Erie water snakes and Indigo snakes are threatened species.
Depending on the state, killing an endangered snake species come with a penalty of a fine or even a prison sentence. This could be argued on the ground of self-defense if you killed a poisonous snake or one that attacked you.
However, the highest penalty you can suffer for flouting the Endangered Species Act is twelve months in prison or at most a fine of $50,000. Sometimes, you can be sentenced and fined simultaneously. However, there are very rare cases of paying more than some few hundred dollars.
How Do You Clean a Snake Bite?
To avoid infections, it is imperative to clean a snake bite with clean water and soap properly. Note that this cleaning shouldn’t be done with running water. You can simply soak a clean cloth in soaped water and clean the face of the wound as gently as you can. You can wash the face of the bite twice daily.
Avoid using alcohol to clean the wound as it would reduce the pace of healing. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide too. You can cover the injury with a clean cloth when you are satisfied it is clean. The possibility of swelling or noticing a change in your skin color (within five minutes) are minimal if a nonvenomous snake bit you. In some snake bites, you will immediately encounter symptoms but hours later.
Snake bites should always be treated as a critical medical emergency as an unattended snake bite can cause death. If it is possible, quickly reach out to the nearest emergency officials to run a check on you.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare