This article was written by Connor, one of our founding editors. Connor is a full-time travel and lifestyle photographer with extensive experience in the outdoors industry.
High-quality snake tongs are one of the best tools you can have with you if you know that you’re going to be handling a snake. They allow you to keep your distance while keeping control over the snake’s movement, preventing it from landing a nasty bite on you.
Additionally, tongs, also known as snake grabbers and snake sticks, are a very safe tool to use for the snake’s wellbeing, minimizing its risk of spinal injury as you handle it. Due to the fact the snakes, specifically venomous ones, can pose a threat to your safety and that you want to treat the snake with care, you understandably want to know that you’re investing in the best snake tongs out there.
In this guide, we’re taking an unbiased look at a handful of the top-rated snake tongs on the market when it comes to durability, safety, and overall value for money.
These are one of the top-rated snake tongs on the market at the moment and are popular among handlers, pet owners, and herpers. At 47 inches long, they sit around average length which is what you want for handling most snakes. This provides you with enough length to stay at a safe distance as well as allowing you enough control over the snake.
The tube is sturdy and made out of aluminum alloy which helps to keep it lightweight. This is particularly useful if you need to carry the tongs around with you, e.g. when herping.
One of the best parts of these tongs is that the wire for the gripping mechanism is actually inside the aluminum tube, preventing you from snagging it on bushes. Many repairs on snake tongs are done simply because the wiring is external, rather than internal, and gets caught easily.
The ‘teeth’ on the jaw of the tongs are blunt so that they don’t harm the snake in any way yet provide good grip. The jaws are also wide enough not to cause any issues with hurting the snake.
Finally, the pistol-style handle is ergonomically designed to fit your hand well and not slip under wet or sweaty conditions. You will be able to feel in control and know how much pressure you are exerting.
This product is rated at five stars on Amazon with well over 100 reviews, suggesting that it is of high quality. Similarly, the tongs are 47 inches in length which are considered excellent for most snake-handling situations. Longer tongs would of course put you at a greater distance from a snake but would limit the control you have.
The tube is made out of lightweight aluminum alloy and is incredibly sturdy. Should you have any issues (which we doubt you will) then the product also comes with a repair kit, saving you from having to fork over for a new pair.
The pistol-shaped handle is comfortable and you will notice that the spring is smooth when you are gripping and releasing. Furthermore, the contoured grip means that it shouldn’t slip out of sweaty or wet hands very easily.
Serrated jaws are certainly becoming more popular in the tong world and that’s exactly what this product sports. The ‘teeth’, or serrated jaws, are designed to be smooth and not inflict any pain upon the snake while allowing you to move the snake with good grip.
The Gentle Giant snake tongs are significantly pricier than other effective options on the market, however, we have included them in this review guide due to their popularity among buyers. These excellent snake grabbers are produced by Midwest, which is a highly trusted brand and known for producing superior quality products.
Typically, higher cost means higher quality and that’s certainly true for this product. With that being said, we’ll leave you to be the judge of whether or not it’s worth making a $60 jump up in price. Our opinion? If you’re really serious about snake handling and will be using them often, then great. If not, one of the cheaper ones may be better suited to you.
The jaw is triple rubber-coated which helps to create friction, making it very hard for the snake to move when you are gripping. The stainless steel tubing contains the cable which is ideal for those who don’t want it getting snagged on every other bush or tree.
Furthermore, the jaw is wide which significantly helps to disperse the pressure felt by the snake. Thin jaws can often hurt or even harm a snake due to the localized pressure point. Not only does a wide jaw keep the snake safe but it allows for faster gripping, making you more precise with fast-moving snakes.
Due to the way they’ve been constructed, these reptile tongs are highly durable and have been built to last heavy use. They shouldn’t snap on you any time soon.
The pistol grip is contoured for maximum grip and comfort to the user, with the spring making the gripping action smooth and easy.
These tongs come in a variety of different sizes which is perfect if you’re needing particularly small or large grabbers. They sit at a price range ($70 at the time of producing this guide) in between that of Midwest’s Gentle Giant tongs and the first ones we reviewed.
The anodized aluminum tube helps to prevent it from rust and is relatively lightweight. The fact that it is anodized also helps to thicken the aluminum tube, making it more durable.
These reptile grabbers have been designed to help you apply the most amount of pressure while still keeping the snake safe and out of any pain. A pistol grip handle means that you can operate it effectively single-handedly and can maintain a good grip.
Finally, the cables are contained within the tubing which is a standard we recommend you choose, simply because it means that there will be fewer issues out on the field and fewer repairs needed.
Although snake tongs are relatively simple devices, there are several considerations to take into account before adding them to your cart. They can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and some hold up far better than others. On top of that, some are much gentler on snakes whereas others can risk breaking a snake’s spine, which is the last thing you want to do.
In short, yes, size does matter but contrary to popular belief, longer isn’t always better.
Tongs in general can range anywhere from 24-70+ inches. If you’re not an experienced snake handler, you may believe that longer tongs are better. In truth, although long tongs increase the distance between you and the snake, the longer lever makes it much harder to control the snake. You may even have the opposite effect you desire because long tongs often mean that you need to use your other hand to handle the snake effectively, putting you at greater risk of being bitten.
Small tongs, on the other hand, make it far easier to control the snake but will put you much closer to the snake’s head, which is of course where the bite comes from.
There’s a good balance to be had, somewhere around the 40-inch mark for the average snake. Of course, be sensible enough to make your own decision. If you deem that you’re going to need more control and are happy to be closer to the snake, then opt for a smaller one.
Conversely, choose a long tong if you want to keep a distance for peace of mind or if you need to reach under a bush/ledge to reach the snake. Long tongs are ideal for reaching to places you otherwise wouldn’t want to with small ones or your hands.
The jaw, or clamp, of the snake tongs, dictates what the snake feels which makes it crucially important that you get one that isn’t going to hurt the snake. As well as keeping the snake safe, using tongs that don’t hurt the snake will make the whole handling process smoother. A snake in pain is a dangerous snake and they will be much more likely to strike out defensively.
So, how should you choose which jaw to go for? Your decision here can depend on the size of the snake you’re going to be handling. Narrow jaws, like Pilstrom ones, are better suited to smaller, slimmer snakes.
That said, often the smaller or thinner the jaw is, the more risk there is of injuring the snake because there is a more concentrated point of impact on the snake’s body. This means that if you’re not overly experienced, you run the risk of clamping too hard with this style of jaw.
Alternatively, there are plenty of high-quality tongs that sport a flatter and wider jaw. This style carries the least amount of risk of injury to the snake, ultimately leading to an easier handling process.
This style is suited to larger, thicker, and heavier snakes in order to cause the least amount of pain due to the increased surface area. The downside to using tongs in this style is that they’re a bit bulkier and not as easier to carry around.
In order to function, tongs need to have cables that run from the handle to the jaw. That’s what allows you to open and close them.
On some tongs, the cables are exposed which means that they can potentially be snagged in brush. That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, however, it is worth considering whether you’d rather go for tongs which have their cables enclosed in the shaft.
Before we get into the technique of actually using the snake tongs, it is crucial that you remember a few golden rules.
Next, we’re going to talk about your technique. We actually produced a larger guide on how to use snake tongs, so if you want to read that, click the link. Otherwise, here are some of the key points to remember.
Your snake tongs can often be used more efficiently and safely alongside a snake hook. Firstly, aim to use the tongs to gain control over the head, as this is the part you don’t want to be struck by. Then, use your hook to control and support the snake’s mid-lower section.
Every movement should be slow and cautious, yet confident at the same time. A snake will sense if you’re moving too quickly and uneasily, putting it into a more defensive mode. The aim is to keep the snake as calm as you can, to cause it the least amount of distress and decrease the likelihood of it striking.