Like other wild animals, snakes may try to bite in self-defense if handled directly. However, in Ontario only one species—the Massassauga Rattlesnake—is venomous, and this snake is rarely encountered and almost never found in urban areas. It is always best to avoid direct handling where possible. If any person is bitten or scratched by an unidentified snake, clean the wound with water and antibacterial soap and see an emergency room physician.
Methods for containing a sick or injured snake
You will need:
- A plastic container with a secure lid and air holes, or a pillowcase
- A piece of cardboard or a broom (to slide the snake into the container)
- A piece of cardboard and string/tape to secure the container
Method 1: Slide the snake into a bin or pillowcase
Place a plastic bin or open pillowcase on its side near the snake. Use a piece of cardboard or a broom to gently slide the snake into the container. Close the container (making sure there are air holes) or knot the pillowcase securely at the top.
Method 2: Place a container over the snake
Place the container upside down over the snake. Gently slide a flat piece of cardboard underneath the container and snake while holding the container firmly against the ground. Secure the new ‘floor’ to the container by wrapping string or tape several times around the container and cardboard.
Keep your snake from feeling stressed
If the container you have used is clear, make sure to cover the outside with a towel or pillowcase – a dark space will make the snake feel a lot more comfortable.
Provide temporary care
Great job! Now that the animal is contained, provide temporary care until you can reach a wildlife rehabilitator