It’s Spring, and this time of year my parents’ house usually gets invaded a few times by some (or maybe it’s the same one) black snakes. This year so far, one made itself at home on my folks’ downstairs couch, almost getting sat on when my mother was getting ready to catch up on some Breaking Bad at the TV. My father was able to toss that snake out. Just recently, I received a frantic phone call; there was a snake in my mother’s indoor ficus tree, and my dad was not around to evict the unwelcome guest. As the geographically closest offspring at that moment, I had to interrupt my extremely important HGIC newsletter duties to go help my distressed mom.
Years ago, my father devised a device he named “The Snake Stake (TM, patent pending).” Made from a simple wood stake, a nail, some string, and a couple eye loop screws, he created a tool for grabbing a snake behind the head. It allows you to snag the snake in a string loop, hold onto the snake with a bit of distance from yourself, and transport the critter safely outside.
This particular black snake was tangled up in a houseplant and was tough to evict. I opened the loop in the string to about 3 inches in diameter, held out the Snake Stake, and maneuvered the loop around the snake’s neck. I then pulled the string very tight and began pulling him out of the plant. He was so wrapped up in there, it took a couple re-tries, as we were going to pull the whole plant over.
Finally I got him out of the tree. The snake tends to start curling itself around the stake and the “T” end of it, so you don’t have to worry about his whole weight being held by a single piece of string looped on the neck. However, they also tend to start progressing forward through the loop and down the stake towards you, especially if you aren’t holding the string tight.
This snake was doing just that. I only had about 30 seconds to get him outside, walk down the steps of the backyard, and approach the fence (my mother wanted him as far away from the house as possible). I had just read a wikipedia article on black snakes on my phone that said while not poisonous, they do tend to act aggressively and bite often, so I was ready to be rid of him as soon as possible. Usually, I’d open the gate, go out, and loosen the noose to free the snake a good distance from civilization, but he was COMIN RIGHT FER ME up the stake, so I ended up just chucking the snake AND stake over the fence. They happened to land in our stream. The snake laid there confused for a moment before finally un-tangling himself and swimming off unharmed.
You can make your own Snake Stake – it’s very simple, and very cheap. Just a couple eye-loops, a stake or rod, string, and a bit of a perpendicular piece to make a “T” at the end so the snake’s neck is pulled up against something flat. There also seem to be other types of snake grabbing tools you can buy, starting at around $30 (do a quick search on Amazon.com for “snake grabber” and you’ll find a lot of options.