Snake (or Hook) Stick for Safe Snake Collecting




Introduction: Snake (or Hook) Stick for Safe Snake Collecting

About: Proudly South African, Enthusiastic about the great outdoors, Natural Sciences, Photography, DIY, and all aspects of the natural world, with arachnids and reptiles being my absolute passion.

This is my first Instructable, so I'd really appreciate as much help and feedback as possible. 

Firstly, and most importantly, we need to clear the air on a few things:

1) This is more a report on how I made my hook stick as opposed to how to make the best one - This means that some parts are optional and won't have much influence on the finished project if you decide to leave them out - use your own discretion. It's not the cheapest, nor does it follow the general trend in snake collecting gear. More on this later.
2) The gear doesn't make you an expert - Get to know the hook stick and get to know how it should be used. Practice on rubber snakes, thick ropes or harmless species before trying your hand at venomous snakes.
3) Obviously certain snake species are dangerous, remember that at all times, and treat every snake with the respect they deserve. Don't catch snakes if you don't need to. Unless it's for extraction or for research, leave them alone.

When used in the correct manner, hook sticks can help you to safely collect and move snakes of varying sizes safely, with minimal hazard to yourself and to the snake.  

This snake stick works particularly well when used along with the Snake Tube, which you can find by clicking here for the Instructable.
Also, by clicking here you'll find a How-to on catching snakes.

Step 1: Materials Used

Again, referring to the intro, this is what I used so I've added what's essential and what's optional:

1 Broomstick with a rubber cap on the flat end. (Essential)
+/- 1 metre of strong, 4mm steel wire. (Essential)
A length of softer steel wire. (Optional)
2 hose clamps (Optional)
Clear silicone sealant (Essential)

Drill & Bits (Essential)
2 G-clamps (Optional)
Bolt cutters (Essential)
Precision wire cutters (Optional)
Vice grip (Essential)
Wire pliers (Essential)
Measuring Calliper (Essential)

Step 2: The Hook

Here is where it all happens. The actual hook which will  pick up the snake.

I used roughly a 1 metre length of 4mm hardened steel wire for this part, you could use any round metal that's sturdy, if you choose to use a metal rod, then all you need to do is bend it into the proper shape.

First, bend the length of wire into a U shape around a solid pole or something similar with the two ends facing you. 
Grip the two ends together using the vice grip and twist it up. It's easier said than done, but with patience and a military vocabulary you'll get it done fine.

Trim the ends so you have a straight length of neatly twisted wire. (Double-wrapped, 4mm hardened steel wire is a #@&% to cut, so here the bolt cutters comes into play, don't use a standard wire cutters because you'll probably end up with a notched tool and sore fingers).

Bend the wire into a hook, pay close attention to how the hook has been bent, this shape is important.

Step 3: The Shaft

So now that the hook is complete, the shaft is next. 

Many people prefer an old golf club as the shaft. I prefer using a broomstick because it's sturdier and can double up as a hiking stick. Golf clubs have one definite advantage - they're much lighter, but I've found that, even if they're light, they're annoying because you can't use them as hiking sticks. To each his own, and I recommend using whatever material you feel comfortable with. 

By using the G-clamps to secure the pole vertically along a guideline (like a spirit level or the corner of a work bench) you can ensure a more accurate drill. 

(First Photo) Use the calliper to measure the diameter of the hook you built. (If you are using twisted wire, you can just double the thickness of the wire you used to get the thickness) I used 4mm wire, so I had an 8mm diameter on the hook.

(Second Photo) Locate the middle of the broomstick and drill a hole straight down into it. Be very careful and make sure you get the hole centred and sunk properly. The depth of the hole doesn't really matter. 

(Third Photo) Blow into the hole or use a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust that may have remained inside the hole, and then fill it up with silicone

Step 4: Assembly

Now to join the hook and shaft together, bringing the hook stick to life!

Take a look at the hook you've made and determine whether you've twisted it up clockwise or anticlockwise, then press the hook into the hole, screwing it in along the twisted pattern - this will ensure that the silicone sticks into the grooves of the hook.

Take the two hose clamps and fasten them along the shaft, one roughly at the top of the shaft and the other around the point where the base of the hook is. 

Step 5: Optional Reinforcement

Losing the hook - what has happened to several herpetologists on field trips.

Some poorly-assembled hook sticks on golf clubs have a habit of losing their hooks. By the time you realise the hook has come off the shaft, it may have been left several kilometres back, and finding it again is virtually impossible. To prevent this, I recommend using softer wire as a secondary support to attach the hook to the shaft.

Note: If you do this, you'll have to remove thee hose clamps and put them on again at the end.

(First Photo) Take the one end of the wire and screw it, along the thread of the hook, into the shaft.
(Second Photo) Clamp the wire in place using the vice grip
(Third Photo) Wrap the wire down the hook in the same direction as the hook itself was screwed into the shaft. In this case, I twisted the hook in anti-clockwise, so the thin wire should also be wrapped anti-clockwise. Doing it in the opposite direction will result in the hook screwing out of the shaft again.
(Fourth Photo) Wrap the wire down until the point where the base of the hook would be and place the hose clamps back.

By doing this, if the hook comes loose and pulls out of the shaft, the wire will unravel from the shaft, allowing the hook to remain attached so that you won't leave it behind.

Step 6: Finishing Off

This is probably the most important step of all because it concerns the well-being of the snake.

Take the tube of silicone, remove the cone on the front and stick the hook into the tube.
Twirl it around and remove it, leaving a nice coating of silicone on the hook.

Add an extra blob onto the tip of the hook. Remember, the end of the hook is very sharp, and by doing this you're creating a cushion so that the snake can't get hurt by mistake.

In summary - Everyone has different tastes when it comes to equipment like this,  so feel free to change the design as you see fit. I also used Post-office Red spray paint and painted a bar across the shaft so that the hook stick can be easily spotted when I need it.

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    9 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I would wrap some sort of cloth around the hook end, to make sure you do not injure the snake.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I tried doing this, but the wire was way too flexible


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The silicone prevents injury to the snake, but cloth would work too.

    It's strange that your hook is flexible. It could be that the wire isn't thick enough or that it's not twisted up tightly enough?

    The hook on the stick I made in this Instructable has proven to be strong enough to flip rocks and logs without bending at all. As a test I took a 5kg weight and suspended it on the very tip of the hook (where the level effect is strongest and the most stress put on the bend) and it supports the weight without bending a fraction... What kind of wire did you use bud?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't mean to pad the sharp end, many hooks have a padding to prevent injury on the entire hook.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Instead of using silicone to glue the hook in place, try using a two part epoxy. That's what holds golf club heads onto the shafts. I think that would make the hook much less likely to fall out. Otherwise, excellent instructable!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Good plan, it would work better. Indeed, there's a lot on my hook stick that could have been better, but I just went out to build one using scraps around the workshop so that there's no cost involved - I had silicone, and didn't have epoxy...

    Just stay away from that greyish cement-like two-part adhesive - it has a habit of popping out the shaft.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very interesting.

    When I was a conscript (in the pleistocene), to catch poisonous snakes I used two thin canes, freshly cut from any tree. First put a cane at middle of the body, then the other nearer to the head, and so on until press its nape(neck?) on the floor. Then with nude fingers catch it from its neck and introduce it in a bottle, the tail first. To avoid any danger of biting, when all the body was into the bottle, a little stick was put into its mouth before drop it. The cork had two or three grooves for the air can renew.

    This procedure is safe and not injure it. Then the snake was carried to an institute to extract its venom in order to make antivenom, without killing it.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, I've heard of this method, although I wouldn't risk it, especially out here where I live - the nearest reputable hospital is about 2 and a half hours drive away, so I play it safe...

    I catch venomous species using these two methods -