Sunday, April 28, 2013

How Do You Release a Live Snake From a Mousetrap?

King Snake, on the hunt for mice, finds
himself in a mousetrap.
With signs of a mouse in the garage I set traps at various points last night. This morning, when I checked the trap by the entrance - a favorite spot - it had sprung, but no mouse. I glanced under the sink and saw only the dark curved tube shaped as a U. Yellow stripes, not a rattler. Possibly a King Snake and possibly alive. How do you release a live snake from a mousetrap? P.S. Without killing the snake and without getting bit?

King snakes are our friends and have been spotted twice in the garage (7 years ago), once in the vineyard (5 years ago) and once outside the garage last year. They eat mice and are immune to a rattlesnake's venom and are said to eat small rattlers. King snakes are good to keep around. I remember our neighbor Steve the herpetologist telling me about the time he rescued a King and it bit him several times. Not poisonous, but still not his idea of a good time getting bit.  Not even a friendly King Snake knows how to say thank you. I gather gloves, some tools, a camera.

I've seen the"Crocodile Hunter" on TV, notably the episode when Steve Irwin catches the world's 10 most poisonous snakes. I've got our "favorite vineyard tool" (a 3-ft. stick we use to help hang  nets), a broom (in case I need to sweep him out), a bucket and a 32 gallon container.

It's overkill. The snake is not that big.  I use the stick to pull him out from behind the washing machine. He wriggles.  His head is pinned down.  I just pick up the mouse trap and carry it (with snake) outside to the vineyard. My idea is to hold the snake's jaws shut with one hand then use my other hand to lift the bar.  Then I find it's impossible to left the bar with one hand. Duh.  I need leverage.  Next idea, let go of the head, use one hand to hold the mouse trap, use a strong twig as leverage to open the bar of the mousetrap. As I do this the snake coils himself around the bar and won't let go. I shake ever so gently and soon he's on the ground and all balled up, like a tortoise inside his shell, trying to escape the world. He's not in good shape. I want to keep him on our property, so I find a shady spot in some ivy to let him be.
Recovering in the shade.

As I write this story, I make a discovery. The vineyardista keeps coming over to me and telling me her "honey do" list for the day and starts singing a song about why I'm wasting my time writing and she sees a picture of the snake on the computer screen, shrieks and scatters.  Peace at last.  Can I patent this new "Wife Away"?


Nancy W. said...

Can you chill him down a bit to help slow him /her down, then work on releasing?

Richie L. said...

Pour ice water over the snake to shock him, That will be long enough for you to release him.

Craig Justice said...

Nancy, I can see it now. "SHey honey, I'm going to put the snake into the freezer for a few minutes. You don't mind, do you?" (She'll end up throwing out the whole refrigerator/freezer. (I like the idea though.)She already made me through away the gloves.

Jacquelyn H. said...

Maybe wear garden gloves, hold its head (jaws closed) & release? P.S. You can't scare me with your "wife away." I'm going to come over there and help you.

Maggie T. said...

I hope he ate the mouse!

Dara M. said...

This is a lot easier with to release with a pole or stick to spring the trap open. Pissed off snakes can lunge 1-2 ft. when you release them. Not deadly, just painful. See example of a snake hook here: which is what the experts use.

Liz F. Z. said...

wear high boots, foot on trap (opp end to head). lift trap over his head with stretched hanger hook. that's how i did it once. good luck. like the ice-cold water idea (towel barrier and pour around him so he gets slowly soak) have an escape plan. good luck