Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Dedicated exclusively to field herping.

Moderator: Scott Waters

Post Reply
User avatar
Hans Breuer (twoton)
Posts: 3206
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Contact:

Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 9th, 2012, 4:23 am

1. Read this: http://www.snakeconnections.com.au/content/tongs

2. Discuss! :-)

(I have no opinion about this, as I mostly use my Gentle Giants as trekking poles anyway...and sometimes to pick arboreal snakes off out-of-reach branches)

User avatar
MaartenSFS
Posts: 466
Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Sidearm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by MaartenSFS » November 9th, 2012, 5:10 am

I agree with what is said, but wanted to comment because of the "Satan's Sidearm". :lol: I will add, though, that Austin Stevens seems to use them quite well.

User avatar
Hans Breuer (twoton)
Posts: 3206
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Contact:

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 9th, 2012, 5:14 am

True. And he seems to know a thing or to about herps (even if it doesn't show in his televised circus shows)

Tom
Posts: 142
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:06 am

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by Tom » November 9th, 2012, 5:55 am

The more tools you have at your disposal, the better - providing you know how to use them. I've used everything from padded tweezers to padded tongs, pinning sticks and hooks for different situations. Personally, I'm not a fan of the pilstrom type tongs as they're very harsh, nor of people using them to grip the neck of a snake. Midwests are better. But I think people often get the impression that they are a substitute for good handling skills.

You can harm a snake with tongs, but you can also potentially harm one by holding it by the tip of the tail or using a hook that is too thin (like Bitis). Use them properly and they're a great tool.

VICtort
Posts: 688
Joined: July 2nd, 2010, 5:48 pm
Location: AZ.

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by VICtort » November 9th, 2012, 7:11 am

I have trained several people to safely remove rattlesnakes from high use campgrounds/day use areas, and tongs seem to work best. They are imperfect, as fearful tong handlers tend to grip too firmly, risking damage to the snake. Like any other tool, if used competently, they can be effective. I prefer a hook myself, but I am not fearful like some of the folks I work with, and I don't get the snake all upset and thrashing around like many of them do. It was/is common to see imported snakes with damage, broken ribs etc., I presume from overzealous use of tongs or even worse, nooses. The wide spatulate tong jaws seem like a good idea, and I glued ensolite foam on some we used. Tongs must be used by trained people to avoid injury, but they are probably better than the common alternatives of nooses and shovels. I try to teach folks to tong heavy bodied snakes in the middle rather than behind the head which for some reason they tend to want to do. I have no experience with quick and agile elapids, I would need training before I would dare mess with them.

User avatar
Bryan Hamilton
Posts: 1217
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by Bryan Hamilton » November 9th, 2012, 8:01 am

For Crotalids in talus, God's gift.

Reptiluvr
Posts: 258
Joined: April 23rd, 2011, 6:49 pm

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by Reptiluvr » November 9th, 2012, 8:03 am

I've had mine for two years and haven't had a chance to use them yet. I haven't gotten any hots while the tongs were with me. I did pluck a Nerodia sipedon pleuralis out of a lake with them once. It worked for that. Mostly it has served as a walking stick and a nice flipping stick.

User avatar
gbin
Posts: 2293
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by gbin » November 9th, 2012, 10:51 am

"Tongs/hooks/what-have-you don't kill snakes. People kill snakes." Any tool has the potential to be misused.

Gerry

jimoo742
Posts: 546
Joined: November 4th, 2010, 2:43 pm

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by jimoo742 » November 9th, 2012, 11:21 am

So, haven't used them much lately, but I have the pilstrom type (an older midwest model)... it has no padding. I can't really afford to just buy a new one. Any way to properly retrofit them? Ideas?

User avatar
MHollanders
Posts: 583
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:32 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by MHollanders » November 9th, 2012, 12:51 pm

The article seems ridden of elitism and machoism. Or is that just me?

User avatar
VanAR
Posts: 590
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:36 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by VanAR » November 9th, 2012, 12:54 pm

Tongs are excellent tools that increase safety while handling of dangerous snakes. They are less useful in handling slender elapids than fat pit vipers, but the risk of injury to the snake with whitney/m1/gentle giant-styles is much lower than some people (particularly many Australians) think. You aren't going to squeeze a snake to death, no matter where you grip them, with these styles of tongs (Pilstroms are another story). The gaps in the mouth are simply too large. The risk of injury is if you grip the snake too close to the neck or grip it in a way that allows it to thrash and potentially break its own bones. Snakes should be gripped in the upper-middle quarter of the body, and if they thrash they should be lowered to the ground while maintaining a grip on them.

Tools should always be used in preference to hands if you hope to never be bitten. The only way to reasonably guarantee a bite cannot occur is by handling the snake at a distance from which it cannot bite you, and controlling their body in such a way that the distance of their head to your body does not change. Tongs often provide the best means to do that.
The article seems ridden of elitism and machoism. Or is that just me?
The attitudes described in the article are pretty much word for word from several Australian snake folks I've met so far. They usually (but not always) haven't been stated in a elite/macho manner, but rather as a statement of fact. Though I dispute the risk of injury to the snake, my own limited experience with tonging elapids is that it's difficult to hold them still with tongs. They simply slip through the tong, and if you try to grab them with tongs while they are moving (which they often are, quite rapidly), you are very likely to miss. It's similar to tonging water snakes off branches that you can't reach by hand. The seemingly elitist statement regarding use of tongs as indicative of inexperience I think is relatively realistic- my own experience is that I'm not quite comfortable with the idea of tailing these critters, and tongs, though they don't work that well and increase the likelihood that the snake escapes, at least provide that safety of distance I mention above, and I'll take my own safety over catching a snake any day. As a result, I've become a huge fan of in situ photography when it comes to elapids so toxic that one of them killed a powerline worker in Queensland just this week in what is thought to have been a matter of minutes. His body wasn't found for 3 hours so the time it took to kill him isn't known, but still, dying from snakebite in 3 hours isn't something you have to be concerned with in most vipers.

User avatar
Mark Brown
Posts: 567
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 1:15 am
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by Mark Brown » November 9th, 2012, 2:06 pm

I've had a pair for many years and I can't recall that I've ever used them. When working with hot stuff at home, they're a good backup in case things start getting out of hand, but I've been able to avoid that sort of drama. They never go in the field with me - I've never had the need to use them afield and they're just another thing to tote around, have to keep track of, and get in the way.

I've seen them used improperly, and it is usually the result of someone picking up a snake, which immediately reacts by thrashing, whereupon the handler responds by using way too much pressure to restrain the panicky snake.

User avatar
ThamnElegans24
Posts: 406
Joined: November 23rd, 2010, 6:44 pm
Location: Mesa, Arizona

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by ThamnElegans24 » November 9th, 2012, 6:05 pm

I guess I'll just have to stick with my noose :D

User avatar
Mark Brown
Posts: 567
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 1:15 am
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by Mark Brown » November 9th, 2012, 6:13 pm

Forked stick still get the job done for me :lol:

User avatar
Viridovipera
Posts: 339
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:40 pm

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by Viridovipera » November 9th, 2012, 7:18 pm

Tongs are also great if you don't have two hooks and are dealing with a snake that's too short to tail. Not every snake stays on a hook. In fact I've met relatively few venomous snakes that do.

User avatar
Hans Breuer (twoton)
Posts: 3206
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Contact:

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 9th, 2012, 7:51 pm

Viridovipera wrote:Tongs are also great if you don't have two hooks and are dealing with a snake that's too short to tail. Not every snake stays on a hook. In fact I've met relatively few venomous snakes that do.
Surely you must have met more than your share of arboreal vipers? Those never want to get OFF the hook...

User avatar
MaartenSFS
Posts: 466
Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by MaartenSFS » November 9th, 2012, 10:50 pm

Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:True. And he seems to know a thing or to about herps (even if it doesn't show in his televised circus shows)
Yes, although I don't mind his shows - especially during the harsh winter months.

User avatar
Ruxs
Posts: 373
Joined: November 23rd, 2011, 8:26 am
Location: London, United Kingdom

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by Ruxs » November 10th, 2012, 3:58 am

I ordered some prongs (tongs) to South Thailand because they are quite necessary for an novice (so to speak) when handling nasty hots such as the Malayan Pit-Viper, which is common as muck here, also as some people have already said Elapids are prone to sliding of a hook like it's nothing. However I agree that in come cases they are unnecessary which is why I, even though I have previously always worked with my hands, have decided to make myself a hook.

Cheers,
Rupert

rtdunham
Posts: 219
Joined: January 11th, 2011, 2:43 pm

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by rtdunham » November 10th, 2012, 5:20 am

Ruxs wrote:I ordered some prongs (tongs) to South Thailand because they are quite necessary for an novice (so to speak) when handling nasty hots such as the Malayan Pit-Viper, which is common as muck here…
Just curious: Other than removal from populated areas, or for measurements in scientific studies, what's the need to handle a species that's common as muck?

ugh
Posts: 457
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 5:46 am

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by ugh » November 10th, 2012, 5:40 am

Hard to believe but most snakes actually DON'T LIKE being grabbed-by your hand, a set of tongs, whatever. It immediately triggers some degree of either defensive/flight or flight behavior, at which point you trash any chance for observation of more natural behavior. By comparison a hook has a considerably different/lesser effect but also forces the snake to react in some way.

If one's goal is simply pulling a resistant animal out of it's microhabitat, yes I agree tongs are the best solution- way better than pinning, or noosing( both pretty ridiculous unless completely unavoidable somehow). I know tongs are way overused and the vast majority of the time what they're used for can be done with a hook.

User avatar
muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by muskiemagnet » November 10th, 2012, 7:46 am

VanAR wrote:Tools should always be used in preference to hands if you hope to never be bitten. The only way to reasonably guarantee a bite cannot occur is by handling the snake at a distance from which it cannot bite you, and controlling their body in such a way that the distance of their head to your body does not change. Tongs often provide the best means to do that.
i'm thinking that if one hopes to never be bitten, one should just leave the snake alone.

there are times when handling is needed. removing from human traffic(as mentioned) or for research purposes. as ugh pointed out, snakes are going to react to being grabbed. this in itself creates a myriad of potential outcomes depending on the individual snake. because of these potentials, the snake could be injured or killed as well as the captor being injured or killed. it sounds to me that this discussion is simply a rationalization. the "machoism" comment holds true at this point. the fact that it is being discussed as to handle hots with "less" potential to injury is a good thing, and i'm glad to hear it, but the fact that the potential exists should be an indicator to just leave them be. i know that this is slightly off topic, but i feel that it should be mentioned. it is evident that you all agree that tonging a snake could hurt the snake. well then, why would you tong it? to those of you discussing this for "professional" reasons, then disregard my comments. if some are tonging just because they can, well then, give my comments some thought.

-ben

User avatar
reptilist
Posts: 653
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:30 am
Location: Clifton, Arizona

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by reptilist » November 10th, 2012, 7:52 am

If a guy is adept with a flute, charming a snake to cooperate is hands down, the way to go.

Tongs are good in some situations. Hooks are more fun, but sometimes frustrating.

User avatar
crocdoc
Posts: 473
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:43 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by crocdoc » November 10th, 2012, 1:09 pm

I happen to agree with the article in Hans' link. I've handled (with hooks and tongs) rattlesnakes and I've handled (with hooks) Australian elapids and couldn't imagine using tongs with the latter.

Often when an elapid is encountered in the wild, it is either high-tailing it across a road or is just a glimpse of tail disappearing into the undergrowth. The chances of it sitting quietly coiled up, waiting to be caught, are slim. If it is moving away from you at speed, the best (and probably only) way to stop it is by grabbing the tail end with one hand, or using a hook to lift up a loop of its body and then, as it slides through the hook, grabbing the tail end with the other hand. Once the snake has been secured that way, the hook can be used to guide the sharp end of the snake so that it can't turn around and bite you. Whether you use a hook or tongs at that stage is academic, because it's your hand, not the tongs, keeping the snake from getting away and the tongs are only being used to control the sharp end of the snake. The prongs/jaws of the tongs don't even have to be closed. If we're talking about just using tongs alone to stop the snake from getting away (i.e. no hands holding the snake) and the snake isn't getting away by wriggling out of the tongs' grasp, the chances that you've broken some of its ribs are likely to be high.

User avatar
Kevin McRae
Posts: 110
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:28 pm
Location: Manitoba, Canada

Re: Snake Tongs - Satan's Side Arm or God's Gift to Herpers?

Post by Kevin McRae » November 10th, 2012, 6:26 pm

I do not think tongs or hooks should be used for pleasure. If you just want to photograph/observe a venomous snake leave it be. If it goes down a burrow so be it, it's an excuse to keep searching for more. Most of the C. virdis I've found have been at entrances of mammal burrows and 50-75% of the snakes will enter the burrow. If you stay a safe distance from venomous snakes and do not handle them your chances of being bitten are dramatically decreased. Also, is it worth potentially injuring a snake just for a photo?

However, if you are trying to remove a snake off a roadway or from a camp ground where the snake may be harmed I don't see a problem using tongs/hooks. Or if you are doing research that requires hands on work with venomous snakes they may be acceptable under certain circumstances.

Post Reply