How to Get a Snake (Complete Guide with Pictures)

Everyone wants to get a snake. Ever since you were a little kid, you probably wondered how you could manage to convince your mom and dad to get one of these incredible reptiles for you. But now how do you get a snake? Your question will finally be answered. I present to you today the complete guide on how to get a snake.

So, how can you get a snake? You can get a snake in several ways. Snakes may be captured and kept as pets in certain states, depending on the species. You can find the best snake breeder in your area. The easiest way to get a pet snake is to purchase one from a reptile show or from a pet retailer near you.

Catching a wild snake can be fun, but it is also dangerous and may even be illegal depending on the circumstances. Let’s take a look at some of the methods used in capturing snakes, and then examine the much easier method of purchasing a snake from a retailer.

Should I Catch a Wild Snake?

Take a moment to reflect on your motives for finding and capturing a snake in the wild. Why do you want to catch a wild snake? I have heard stories of some that wish to capture wild snakes in order to sell them for a profit.

That may not be advisable. Under most state laws, it is illegal to sell a captured snake in public markets. If it is not illegal, usually some type of special licensing is required in order to sell.

On top of all that, nine times out of ten, selling won’t be profitable. The garden variety snakes that are common throughout the United States don’t sell for very much at all.

Take a garter snake for example. Garter snakes can be found throughout the mainland US and are some of the most frequently sold snakes at any retailer. Small and easy to catch, it seems that these little suckers would fetch a fair price for minimal work. The only problem is that garter snakes only sell for about $10 a pop. A license to sell snakes will usually cost you at least $100 depending on the state.

Not to mention the cost of feeding snakes on a large scale can quickly add up. This is true for almost all species of snakes. California kingsnakes, copperhead snakes, garters, corn snakes and the lot are not great money-making pets to catch and sell. Keep that in mind as you consider entering the snake trapping game.

Maybe you plan on capturing a snake for breeding purposes. Based on what I have read that would seem to be legal, but be aware that snakes can have as many as 80 eggs in one clutch. If you do not have the capacity to care for such a large quantity of snakes, I would advise you to stay away from breeding.

Another reason someone may want to catch a snake is to get a cool pet without going through a pet store. I know that there is a lot of bitterness toward pet stores and a lot of people that own pets would rather not patronize them.

I understand your anger, but taking an animal out of the wild and into captivity can be dangerous, not only to you the owner but to the animal as well. Animals forced into captivity may become more stressed than they normally would, thus suffering the detrimental effects that stress causes.

They may also contract diseases that they would otherwise not come in contact with if they were left in the wild. Be aware of the risks captivity poses to snakes.

A good alternative to purchasing from big chain pet stores is to buy from a local “ma and pa”- type shop. Owners of local shops are generally more concerned for the well being of animals then your typical pet chain. They understand how each separate species of animal needs to be treated and are more adept to do so.

A good alternative to purchasing from big chain pet stores is to buy from a local “ma and pa”- type shop. 

Another good alternative would be to adopt from a shelter or buy from a reptile show, but we will discuss more on that later.

The last thing that you should consider before deciding on catching a wild snake is the danger which it may pose to you and those around you.

First off, the treacherous terrain in which most snakes live is not easily traversed. Those who frequent the mountains and deserts that snakes call home can tell you that dehydration and broken ankles are common among the crags and crevices. Be prepared for hardship.

Second, and I will say this plainly so you are not left mistaken, venomous snakes will kill you. I don’t know why, but it always seems like those looking to catch wild snakes are looking to get their hands on a rattlesnake or the likes thereof. These snakes aren’t toys they will bite and that may kill you.

If you the bite doesn’t kill you physically, it may as well financially. One bottle of antivenom can easily cost a whopping $14000 in the US. $14000! Pray that you have insurance, because selling a rattlesnake will not get you that kind of cash.

The last thing that you should be aware of is the disease that wild snakes may carry. While it is rare, humans can contract salmonella and other bacteria by touch reptiles. Salmonella causes headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death if not properly treated.

This list is to persuade you not to catch wild snakes for recreational purposes without help from an expert. Amateurs have seriously hurt themselves in the past trying.

There are easier ways to get a snake, but if you are still determined, let’s look at some of the methods used to catch wild snakes.

How to Catch a Snake

Undeterred by the warning signs, you are still determined to catch a wild snake. Where to begin? 

There are three main ways to capture a wild snake, with different techniques contained in each method. The three main methods are:

  1. Catching a snake using a tool
  2. Trapping
  3. Capturing a snake with your bare hands

Let’s take a detailed look at each of these three methods.

Catching a Snake Using a Tool

Snakes are tricky little buggers. They can be slick, and honestly, some people just find it gross touching them. That is why the preferred method of most snake hunters is to use some sort of tool to aid them in the capturing of snakes.

If you don’t like touching those little muscle logs, this is the method for you.

Option One: Use a Net

The net you use should have a handle long enough to keep out of the striking range of a snake. A rattlesnake, for example, can bite its victims from anywhere from three to four feet.

Thus, you may want to stand about six feet away for safety purposes. Any net will suffice. Try using a butterfly net, or a net that you use to clean a pool. If you don’t have any of those on hand, you could easily jerry-rig a net using a broom and a garbage bag.

Just make sure your net is strong enough to hold the wriggling snake. You can coax a snake into almost any net to easily capture it. Slowly and carefully maneuver the net until it sits directly under the snake. If done correctly, the snake will interpret the net as a safe place to hide and will slither inside.

If you approach too quickly the snake may quickly dart away, or worse, strike. As soon as the snake is inside the net, pull it upwards thus preventing the snake from moving. Any snake will find it extremely difficult to escape a net, but it isn’t unheard of. Keep at a safe distance, but closely monitor the snake while transporting

Option Two: Snake Fork Style

The second option of the tool category is to use a snake fork. A snake fork is a slender pole that has two button operated tongs or forks on one end. The user operates a button on the other end that, when pushed, causes the tongs on the other end to contract and detract.

I’m sure you have played with something similar as a kid. They are often advertised as “extendable arms” and you could supposedly pick up all sorts of candy or even the TV remote without having to leave your seat. In reality, they didn’t work too well for that sort of thing, but they are great for wrangling snakes.

To catch a snake with a snake fork, maneuver the tongs directly behind the snakes head, and apply pressure. Don’t squeeze it so tight that you smash the poor little guy, but don’t give him room to wriggle free either. If you apply pressure directly to the snakes head, you may kill the snake, so don’t.

After you have grabbed the snake in this manner, feel free to transport him directly with the snake fork, or, preferably, place him in a bag and transport like that.

Option Three: Trapped in a Can

The third (and my personal favorite) way to catch a snake is the classic broom and garbage can. The extermination method of vermin used by housewives the world over can even be applied to snakes. Simply grab a large garbage can (the larger the can the easier it is to coax the snake inside) and angle it so that the mouth of the can is facing the snake.

Using the broom, brush the snake inside the can. This method can be dangerous, especially with venomous snakes. This method is not recommended for that reason, but if it is your only option, act swiftly. A snake is unlikely to strike at you as you brush him away, but he may take a couple of wild shots at your broom.

The best way to avoid being bitten is to approach slowly and then act quickly and without fear. Be careful and good luck!

Option Four: Miscellaneous Tools

The final tool commonly used to catch snakes is what I call the whatever-you-got. The whatever-you-got is only used in the most desperate of circumstances, usually when an unwanted snake enters your home and is cozying up next to your fireplace.

Throw a t-shirt, towel, or whatever else you may have on hand over the snake. Hopefully, this will scare the snake into submission. The idea is to get him to lay down passively in a defensive position rather than in a striking one.

Once the object is thrown and the snake is laying down, place a laundry bin or a garbage can over the snake. Scoop the snake into whatever you have over him and transport wherever desired.

Catching using a tool is probably the most reliable method to catch a snake due to its quick and easy use. If you want to passively catch snakes however, a trap is the best method to use.

Trapping A Snake

Maybe you don’t like touching snakes, but maybe you don’t want to even look at them either. What could you do? Try catching snakes blindfolded?

Not recommended. The best way to catch a snake without having to contact it is to use a trap. Let’s look at three common traps used to catch snakes.

The Bottle Trap

The bottle trap is a great DIY project for the intrepid snake hunter. It’s easy! Use any plastic two-liter bottle. Using construction scissors, cut a hole in the side of the bottle. The diameter of the whole will depend on the size of the snake you are trying to catch.

The hole should be just large enough for a snake to enter, but not leave a lot of wiggle room. Anywhere from half an inch to an inch should be fine. Place a frozen rodent inside the bottle and wait. Before placing the rodent, make sure to thoroughly clean the bottle. Any unfamiliar smell may scare the snakes away.

When a snake comes around and smells the rodent, he will enter the bottle and eat the rodent. After he has eaten, he will be too big to escape. Make sure that the bottle is securely fastened to the ground or it may roll away as the snake moves around inside.

A Minnow Trap

An easy way to catch snakes without building anything yourself is to use a minnow trap. A minnow trap consists of two stainless steel baskets that are easily hooked together. Once connected, the baskets create a small opening where the mouths of the baskets meet. Minnows, (but in our case, snakes) can easily enter, but cannot find the exit once they have fallen into the trap. To use a minnow trap to catch a snake, place an egg or a frozen rodent inside the trap. A curious snake will slither inside to take advantage of an easy meal, but will not be able to find its way back out. Easy!

The Glue Trap Method

The final trap that you can use to catch snakes is called a glue trap. These traps can be bought on Amazon for as little as $6.99, but you can find them at your local hardware store as well. They are simple to set up. Simply wash the container and place bait on it. When the snake comes to eat the bait you have laid out, it will get stuck in the glue. It operates almost the same way as fly paper.

A couple of quick notes on trapping. If you want your traps to work, make sure that they are free of any smells that will drive snakes away. Snakes have a very developed sense of smell and odd odors are the number one cause of driving snakes away.

Second thing, please be humane in your trapping. Check your traps often. If a snake gets caught in your trap and you don’t come by to rescue him, he may be stuck for days and starve to death. Don’t be cruel. Don’t let your snakes die.

Catching a Snake With Your Bare Hands: Safety Tips

Now we come to the final method for catching snakes. Let’s go over some of the specifics of catching a snake with your hands in a safe way.

The first thing you need to do when catching a snake, in general, is to identify whether or not the snake is venomous. If a venomous snake is positively identified, definitely do not try and grab it with your bare hands. 

So if you see a coral snake, a rattlesnake, a copperhead snake, or any other venomous snake, do not approach it. If you are unsure whether a snake is venomous or not, play it safe and do not approach a potentially venomous creature. Don’t risk your safety, just stay away.

If you are unsure whether a snake is venomous or not, play it safe and do not approach a potentially venomous creature. 

After you have identified the snake that you are fixing to catch as one that is neither venomous nor possibly venomous, you will need to catch it. The best way to catch a snake is stealthily and from behind.

Using a stick, or anything else that you can find, distract the head of the snake. With your other hand, grab the tail of the snake and lift it into the air while still keeping the head of the snake on the ground. If you lift up the entire snake, it will likely flip around and bite you, so don’t do that.

With the tail of the snake in the air quickly maneuver a bag in front of your body and behind the snake. Now lift the head off of the ground and quickly drop the whole snake into the bag.

A couple of things to remember when manipulating a snake with your hands. I have already mentioned in this article how snakes carry salmonella and other bacteria.

When handling reptiles, please wash your hands before and after, and it is never a bad idea to use gloves. Also, keep your body as far away from the snake when you are moving it. Even if a snake isn’t venomous, they can still bite and the biting still hurts.

The last thing you want is for a snake to bite you in the gut or your neck. That would really be painful and may cause serious infection. Always use caution around wild animals.

Retail Methods of Getting a Snake

If catching a snake isn’t for you, there are easier ways to get a snake. I’m talking about the most obvious method of getting any pet, that is going to a pet store.

While there are a lot of different ways to buy snakes, I will review the three most common methods that are as follows:

  1. From a chain pet store like Petsmart
  2. Adopting from an animal shelter
  3. Other methods, including from a ma and pa shop, online, a reptile show, or anything that would fall under that category

Let’s first look at the chain pet store option of getting a snake.

The Chain Store Approach

In my opinion, there aren’t a lot of reasons to buy from a chain pet store. They are generally more expensive and the animals are not very well taken care of. The creatures kept in chain stores sometimes have been treated like the products they sell more than animals that need care.

If there are any advantages to buying from a chain store, it would be the ability to see a variety of options before you buy. I know that you will have the same opportunity at a reptile show, but depending on where you live, those may rarely pass by.

If you do decide to buy at one of these chain stores, make sure that the snake you are buying is in very good health. Ask how often he is fed, as this may be a good indicator of how healthy he is, and look for any obvious lacerations or bruises.

If you would like a nice and detailed guide on the different health issues a snake may have and how to identify them in the event that you do plan on purchasing from a pet chain store near you, you can find a great source for that here.

Adopting a Snake from an Animal Shelter Near You

I love adoption and highly recommend it to any animal lover out there. Animals in shelters have often been mistreated and are in need of a loving home. Adopting tends to be cheaper than buying from a store, so it is a great option for those on a budget.

Of course, at a shelter, the variety is limited especially when it comes to reptiles. If you are not looking for any particular type of snake and just want to give a good home to some poor reptile, the shelter is the place for you to find a reptile in need.

Other Retail Options

In today’s market, you can easily buy from a ma and pa shop, through a reptile show or online.

Let’s briefly examine these three options I have listed.

  • A ma and pa store. The options are usually limited, but the animals are generally treated better. Remember, most folks that get into this business have a passion for animals and will have been good custodians. Local pet stores nowadays are few and far between. If you can find one, I recommend checking it out.
  • Reptile shows are conventions where breeders and enthusiasts get together to showcase their love of snake, lizards, etc. They can be really fun and have some of the best-groomed snakes that you will ever see. The variety can be extraordinary and the quality of reptile the highest you will see, but the price can be high. Get ready to pay a lot of money if you shop here.
  • Online shopping can give you the widest variety for a wide range of prices. The only problem with online shopping is the inability to examine what you are buying beforehand. If you go shopping online, make sure that you buy from a reputable seller before you commit.

Additional Questions

What’s the best way to get a snake? That all depends on what you are looking for in the snake that you want to get. I would say that the highest quality snakes come from reptile shows, but, as I mentioned, they can be expensive. But you never know before you go. I have heard stories of people finding great bargains at those things. Breeding and looking at breeders near you may be a good way to get exactly what you want.

Is it difficult to get a snake? It is not difficult to acquire a snake if you do it legally. Capturing a venomous snake can be difficult and dangerous, but buying a snake is relatively easy. Don’t over complicate things. It is way easier to buy a snake than to capture a wild one.

What is the best snake for me? Some of the most common beginner snakes are rosy boas, ball pythons, king snakes, corn snakes, or garter snakes. There are a lot more than that as well. Do some research before you buy to see what you like. An excellent guide for finding a first pet snake with no previous experience can be found here.

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