Snake tongs were originally invented for the purposes of holding snake food in the form of rodents. It's better that a snake bites a piece of metal than your hand, if it misses it's target when it strikes.

Until recently, herpetologists (reptile experts) caught snakes by hand, or if using “tools” these were restricted to hooks, or more commonly for wild snakes “pinning sticks” the objective being to immobilize the snake long enough to “tail” it (grab it near the end of the tail, not at the end of the tail), before dropping it into a bag or box.

While not necessarily a pleasant experience for the wild snake (as the grabbing is in the genital region), the snake would emerge from the experience physically unharmed.

Keepers of snakes used snake tongs to offer food to snakes, the basis being that if the snake missed the rodent being offered, a metal snake tongs would be bitten, rather than a hand.

Copperhead killed through the illegal use of snake tongs

This was a particularly important consideration when venomous snakes were concerned.

In recent years a group of individuals too afraid to grab snakes by hand started using these same metal snake tongs as “grab-sticks” (shown above) for snakes.

The result: snakes getting their ribs smashed at time of capture through snake tongs use.  This was due to the metal grip of the snake tongs on the struggling snake.  Unfortunately due to the nature of snake tongs and the way snakes struggle, the result of broken ribs and/or internal injuries was more often than not inevitable when snake tongs were used.

If the snakes didn’t die from internal injuries, then a slow agonizing death from infection, septicemia or similar was the likely result.

Sure there were some occasions that a particularly placid snake may be able to escape serious injury from snake tong handling, but by and large the result was a slow agonizing death for these snakes.

More recently “TV personalities”, Mark O’Shea, and other misfits have sought to promote snake tongs apparently as part of their money making schemes.  No doubt the likely end-product is even more dead and mutilated snakes.  But at least O’Shea and his mates may make some money in the process.

Reptile experts around the world condemn this cavalier attitude to snake welfare and believe that if a so-called snake handler is afraid to use their hands to handle a snake, then they should change occupation.

It’s that simple!

Tongs are for sausages on the Barbeque, not for snakes!

In most parts of Australia and the United States the use of metal tongs, either designed "for snakes" or other uses, to handle venomous (or other) snakes is illegal under cruelty to animals laws.

For example in Victoria, Australia, the “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986” Sections 9 (1) a and 9 (1) c outlaws the use of metal snake tongs to handle snakes defining the penalty as “60 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months.”

For various reasons, the authorities have failed to act on the renegade bunch of “snake tong handlers” who continue to inflict pain and suffering on snakes and worse still teach others to do the same.

More recently a number of snake tong handlers have even attempted to deflect attention from their criminal acts of cruelty by making false claims to authorities in relation to veterinary supervised venomoid operations (venom gland removal) on captive snakes. Why? Because the venomoid owners have actively campaigned against the illegal use of snake tongs that inflict a painful death on the snakes. Furthermore, the first person to successfully venomoid snakes in Australia, Raymond Hoser, successfully sued some of Australia's best known snake tong using mutilators for misuse of his "Snakebusters" trademark and in December 2005 got a $39,500 pay out from them and their associates.

For the record, the venomoid operation has been shown to measurably reduce ongoing handling stress in captive snakes, by removing all needs for metal handling implements otherwise required for deadly taxa. Numerous top veterinary surgeons, reptile experts and others have confirmed this obvious fact.

Notwithstanding the obvious, the snake tong handlers have knowingly made countless false, ridiculous and emotive claims against venomoiding, including that operations are done in garages, with non-sterile implements, using fly spray as a sedative, superglue to keep mouth's shut, mass mortality of said snakes and the like, all in a futile bid to divert attention from their own criminal acts with snake tongs.

The evidence for both sides resides in the reptiles themselves.  The allegedly suffering venomoids never die on the operating table and live long stress-free lives, freed from the shackles of hooks, pinning sticks and the like. Due to the lack of handling stress (they never need be forcibly restrained again) the venomoids are among the best breeding venomous snakes in captivity.

Meanwhile snakes mutilated with snake tongs end up either dead in garbage bins, or worse still are released to die a slow and agonizing death.

There is no shortage of videos and websites detailing this snake tong induced torture to snakes on the internet.

Surely if the government authorities are to allow so-called “snake handlers” to use snake tongs to illegally impale and mutilate snakes, they may as well abolish legal “protection” of reptiles and simply go back to the days of whacking snakes over the head with a shovel.  Even that is a more humane way to end the life of a snake.

As a "Stop Press", we've now been advised that certain snake tong "mutilators" have been actively "shopping" animal ethics committees in order to find one or more stupid enough to "approve" of their actions, so as to give an air of legitimacy to this cruel and illegal practice.

To voice your displeasure to the increasing carnage of snakes to the snake tongs brigade please write to your elected representatives and relevant authorities.

E-mail your protest about snake tongs by clicking here:

Shame File of snake tong butchers and supporters.

Snakebusters - Australia's best reptiles.

Corruption websites front page.

Corruption websites media release archive.

Reptiles website/s index page.

Herpetology papers index.

Non-urgent email inquiries via:
The Snakebusters bookings page

Urgent inquiries phone:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:
(03) 9812 3322 or 0412 777 211