How To Catch A Snake

Written by Krishna Maxwell
Updated: September 26, 2022
© Khomiakova
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Key Points

  • There are several methods of catching a snake that ranges from traps to bare hands. Choosing the right method depends on whether or not the snake is venomous and why you need to catch it.
  • Once caught, you will want to have an appropriate container to put the snake in. A burlap bag is a good choice.
  • Snakes are shy of humans so catching one takes time. patience and skill. If catching snakes is a frequent necessity in your life, snake pole is a good investment.

Whether you hear an unmistakable hiss or manage to catch a glimpse of a silent, slithery creature, you’ll know when you’ve come across a snake. There are a few reasons why you might want to catch it. One is for qualified research purposes, especially if you or someone else has experienced a bite or it’s an invasive species. Another is to get rid of a snake on your property, especially if it’s venomous or in the house. Last but not least is to keep a non-venomous snake, such as the garter snake, as a pet.

If you have a snake you want to catch, it can be tricky to do so, and with the different methods that exist, how do you know which one is best? Here is information on how to catch a snake, including barehanded, in the house, in your yard, in the wild, or a trap, and how to do so safely depending on whether the snake is venomous or non-venomous.

How to Catch a Snake in the House

Fun fact: snakes don’t have eyelids.


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Snakes are typically shy of humans and normally do not enter the house. However, they may seek shelter in extreme weather, if you have a rodent infestation, or if you have bird nests around.

Garter snakes deserve a special mention because they’re so common. These small snakes have a neurotoxic venom in their bite that is not enough to be dangerous to humans, although some people may be allergic. They and other types of snakes can get in the house, so you’ll need to know how to get rid of them to avoid stepping on them or getting bitten. And if you have a venomous snake in the house, it’s even more tempting to be scared. Either way, you need to keep calm and get children and pets out of the area.

It’s not too hard to tell the difference between a venomous and a non-venomous snake. A garter snake is small to medium-sized and can have any one of several base colors with one or more cream stripes running down the length of its body. It also has a strong, foul odor. The only small snakes that are venomous in the United States are the Black Swamp Snake and the Florida Brown Snake. If the snake has a rattling tail, a large, fat body, slit-like eyes, and large fangs, it’s venomous. Another definite way to tell if the snake is venomous is if it has a smell resembling cucumbers, which some venomous species like copperheads and rattlesnakes give off.

When you can reach the snake and it’s non-venomous, you can use a big blanket or a basket to catch it, use a broom to sweep it into a garbage can or use a forked stick to pin it down and scoop it into a mosquito net.

For venomous snakes, if you absolutely must catch it and don’t have time to call Animal Control or buy a snake trap, you have a couple of options. One is to use snake tongs, after which you need to put the snake into a burlap bag. Another is to use a mosquito net attached to a long broom, stick, or tennis racquet. Make sure the handle is long enough for you to catch the snake safely and the net is big enough to fit the snake in. Put the net in front of its head and it should slither inside, believing it’s a refuge.

A snake pole is also a great choice for catching snakes of all kinds. This is easy to make out of a piece of PVC pipe. Attach a long piece of cord to one end of the pole and feed the rest of the cord through the PVC so it can be manipulated at the other end. The cord forms a loop at one end of the pole that can be adjusted by pulling or releasing the cord at the other end. Slip the loop of cord around the snake’s neck, just behind the head and gently pull the cord until the snake is held securely at the end of the pole. The snake can now be moved as needed.

How to Catch a Snake in Your Yard

If you have a snake in your yard, it’s not as bad compared to in the house, but it can limit your movement, especially if it’s venomous. Garter snake populations, while harmless to humans, can also get out of control in your yard and be a threat to children and pets playing outside. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to catch garter snakes, because they love to hide in dense vegetation. Simply trim the bushes, mow the grass, or clear the junk pile, and you can catch them barehanded.

Alternately, you can buy and set up snake traps. If the snakes are in a body of water, use a long stick, hook, or snake tongs to pull them out.

How to Catch a Snake in the Wild

Catching a snake in the wild is the most difficult method because that’s where the snake can hide the easiest. You’ll need to know how to find it safely in the first place because you can’t know whether the snake is venomous until you come across it and get a good look from a distance. It takes time and a good eye to be able to tell where a snake has set up its home or is resting. Here are a few signs:

  • Scent: Many snakes emit a strong odor.
  • Feces: These look like bird droppings but have the hair, skin, bones, and feathers of their prey.
  • Tracks: Slithering trails on the ground tell you where the snake has traveled.
  • Snakeskin: Snakes periodically shed their skin, which resembles its physical form.
  • Snake holes: Snakes can’t burrow, so they repurpose holes by other animals in the ground or in trees. Look for tracks, feces, and/or snakeskin around it.

Once you’ve found the snake or its den, you can use any one of several methods to catch it. The aforementioned methods such as snake tongs and a burlap bag, a forked stick and mosquito net, a mosquito net attached to a long handle, a snake trap, or either of the DIY traps below will work.

How to Catch a Snake in a Trap

Using mesh is a great option for catching snakes.


Catching a snake in a trap is a great way to avoid direct personal involvement. There are a few different types of traps you can use.

For the bag trap, you’ll want to set a damp burlap bag for the snake to slither into. This can work for a snake in the house or your yard. You can then take the bag to free the snake at least a mile away from your property or call Animal Control to get rid of it.

For a glue trap, you need to have a 16 x 24-inch piece of plywood and stick up to four rodent glue traps onto one side. This trap works well for a low-traffic area in the house or your yard. Alternately, you can purchase a glue trap or a minnow trap at a hardware store and use snake food, eggs, or frozen mice as bait. To release a snake from a glue trap, pour oil over it.

Another method is to use plastic mesh, also called deer netting or bird netting, which works when the snake is in your yard. Roll up 100ft x 7ft worth of netting for every 100 feet you’ll be covering and cut it in half width-wise so that it’s 100ft x 3.5ft. Curling up the netting width-wise, extend it around the yard. You can choose to use wire pins to secure the netting, although the snake won’t be able to move it. This method tends to kill the snake as the mesh digs into its skin, and it’s especially useful for venomous snakes.

You can use a bottle trap for the snake as long as the bottle is big enough for it. Cut the end of the bottle off and put the cap on, then put snake food inside near the cap. You can then put the snake into a burlap bag or a mosquito net. This method is best for garter snakes and other non-venomous snakes that are in the house or your yard.

How to Catch a Snake Barehanded

Being able to catch a venomous snake barehanded is a difficult skill that takes the development of some wrist and hand dexterity. Only the bravest and well-prepared people dare catch a venomous snake barehanded. On the other hand, if the snake is non-venomous, you can grab it near the tail and hold it upside-down. Make sure to put on gloves before you do so to avoid the spread of bacteria or a bite.

There are a few different reasons for wanting to catch a snake. Snakes can be useful as pest control, but they can become pests or a threat to your family’s safety. They may be desirable to catch for research or to keep the non-venomous ones as pets. Regardless of your reason, it’s important to know how to do so safely.

Up Next…

  • Garter Snake These are beneficial snakes that eat insects, small frogs, snails, etc. They are shy and generally harmless to humans and pets. Learn more about them here.
  • Rattlesnake If you live in the arid regions of the country, chances are you will encounter a rattlesnake at some point. Learn more about them here so you will know how to live in their environment.
  • Venomous vs Non-Venomous Snake: What’s the Difference? Learn how to tell the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes so you can handle them safely.

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yellow snake wrapped around branch
yellow snake wrapped around branch
© Khomiakova

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About the Author

Krishna is a lifelong animal owner and advocate. She owns and operates a small farm in upstate New York which she shares with three dogs, four donkeys, one mule, and a cat. She holds a Bachelors in Agricultural Technology and has extensive experience in animal health and welfare. When not working with her own animals and tending her farm, Krishna is helping other animal owners with behavior or management issues and teaching neighboring farmers about Regenerative Agriculture practices.

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