by Jennifer Greene
When it comes to hunting for reptiles out in the wild, or maintaining a captive snake with an attitude, any herper knows what the best tool is for keeping them away from the bitey end of the snake. Snake hooks are an essential tool for any serious snake keeper, with different sizes suitable for different sized snakes and different needs.
Small hooks are ideal for baby snakes or for easily maneuvering in tubs and small spaces. Pocket hooks are best for tiny hatchlings, while the thicker, 15” standard hooks are my preferred size for working with strange snakes under 5 or 6’. The short hook enables me to maneuver the snake’s head as needed, but isn’t so long that it’s unmanageable.
For larger or more aggressive snakes, a longer hook is a good idea. I prefer 24” for larger or more aggressive species, as it’s just long enough to keep them out of striking range but not so long that I can’t easily manage it. For taller people or those more concerned about the snake being at all close to them, you can utilize the 38” hook.
There’s an even larger and broader type of hook called a boa/python hook, which is best suited for moving extremely large and potentially aggressive snakes. Due to the sheer size of the hook, it can be unwieldy for smaller species, so unless you have a truly large snake you are unlikely to need a hook quite this big.
I personally have one of each size hook; I use the two smaller sizes for working with captive animals, and use the longest hook for outdoor herping.
With the long reach of the 38” hook, it’s ideal for flipping boards and looking around under bushes, as here in Southern California, we have a substantial population of rattlesnakes.
To prevent bites, I often use my hook to check under boards and other flat items before putting my hands in places I can’t see.
Check back next month for an article discussing Southern California’s native rattlesnake species!