How to Build and Use Your Own Snake Pole
Building a snake pole is cheap and easy.
There's no need to pay $40 for a snake pole at the local farm and ranch store. Using materials readily available at Home Depot, you can build one quickly and easily using household tools. Certainly, there are different types and styles of snake poles and hooks. This is my favorite method of building one that's functional and safe. This pole is constructed of heavy duty PVC, has a loop that'll end up about 16" long depending on how much cord you use on your knots, and feels balanced in your hands.
Choose your materials.
Materials generally come in longer lengths or greater quantities than necessary. Make a couple of poles and keep one in the barn or workshop, or give one to that generous neighbor who gives you citrus from their tree. I make several at a time and sell them to neighbors at just above cost.
- PVC 1" pipe, schedule 40. You can buy a 10-foot section at Home Depot and ask the guy in the orange apron to cut it into two 5-foot sections.
- Rope / cord. I prefer low-stretch 1/4" polyester or nylon cord. You want a strong, flexible cord that's got just the right friction level - one that won't drag when you tighten the loop, like cotton or jute, and one that won't be so slippery you can't get it to catch at all. If the cord is too silky to the touch, or has no "body," it won't work well. Pro-tip: Look for cord that's sold as "clothesline," "sash," or "marine" cord. Avoid "twisted" ropes; they'll hang up when you need them to slide. Cord narrower than 1/4" will injure a snake, and bulky cords won't hold them securely.
- Hose clamps, 1-1/4 - 2" size (one per pole).
- Metal object to tie on end of pole as keeper. This can be a 2" O-ring, an old hinge, a halter square, that old padlock with the missing key, a large carabiner, or whatever else you have lying around. It has to be large enough it won't slide into the end of the PVC pipe and heavy enough to help you keep the loop from getting out-of-control in size. It must have an opening of some sort so you can fasten it to the cord.
Gather the necessary tools.
These are the best tools for the project.
- Large flat-blade screwdriver
- Sharp shears or PVC cutter
- Heat gun or BBQ lighter
Assemble your pole.
1. Measure and cut an 108 inch (nine foot) length of cord.
2. Using the heat gun, singe each end of the cord to prevent fraying. If you don't have a heat gun, you can use a barbecue lighter. Nylon will melt at a lower temperature than polyester.
Caution: Melting fibers will adhere to your skin and can burn you. Keep pets and children away. Keep a bowl of water at hand. You can plunge the end of the nylon into it if necessary to put out any fires or cool the rope after melting the end. If you accidentally burn yourself or drip a hot substance on your hand, you can plunge your hand into the water.
3. Thread the cord through the PVC pipe.
4. Tie the "keeper" object to one end of the cord. Use a knot you can rely on!
5. On the end of the PVC opposite the keeper you've attached, place a 2" hose clamp about an inch from the end. Draw the end of the cord through the clamp and knot it; a basic square knot is fine. Secure the hose clamp snugly using the flat-blade screwdriver.
Your pole is now complete!
Here's how to use your new pole.
- Before approaching the snake, draw a loop of cord through the clamp end of the pole. The size of loop will vary depending on your expertise with the pole. Start with a full-size loop and see what works best for you.
- Hold the keeper end of the cord securely to the pole with your other hand.
- Place the loop over the snake's head (this is easier than you may expect) and pull on the keeper end of the cord until it the loop is snugly tightened around the snake's neck or body. I like to secure the loop close to the snake's head, but you can secure it anywhere in front half of the body and still properly control the snake.
- Holding the keeper end snug with your strong hand and supporting the pole with your weak hand, move the snake to its new location. You can transfer it into a plastic 5-gallon bucket or a burlap sack. If you keep your pole standing upright in a plastic bucket that's setting on its lid, it'll always be handy when you look for one. While handling, be careful not to tighten the loop so much that you injure the snake.
- If you must euthanize a venomous snake, you can use a shovel blade or knife to behead it while holding it securely with the pole. Remember: venom can still be transferred from a snake's fangs after it has had its head removed. Secure the head in a safe container such as a closed jar before discarding it. Make sure you know your area's wildlife laws and have appropriate permits. In many places, snakes may not be killed unless you are in danger.
Storing your pole.
Here in the desert, both PVC and synthetic cords are prone to deterioration from heat and sunlight. I left my old snake pole in my tack room, where the cord eventually disintegrated from the heat. Keep your pole in the shade if you must store it outside.
Rodents enjoy nibbling on the cord, also. If you have snakes, you probably also have rodents. Again, storing it in a 5-gallon bucket is a good idea; it will keep the rodents from chewing the bottom part of the cord as well as giving you a readily-available bucket for dropping the snake into.
I try to keep a pole on the back patio, in the house, and in the barn area. You don't want to have to hunt for it when that rattlesnake is at the back door!
Other uses for your pole.
Although this is not designed to be a catch-pole for dogs, it'll do the job in a pinch. If you need to assist a frightened or aggressive dog or wild animal, try your snake pole. You can pull an injured animal off the roadway, catch a cornered creature, or rescue an animal from the pool.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Marcy J. Miller