Please read the 'Agreement' section on the View Articles page before downloading this article.

Dr. Adrian Lawler
Title: Trapping Snakes in a Pond
Summary:  Dr.Lawler provides useful advice for catching snakes in ponds using minnow traps and cages.

Contact for editing purposes:

Date first published: October 2007
Publication: Original to Aquarticles
Reprinted from Aquarticles:
Internet publication (club or non-profit web site):

   1. Credit author, original publication, and Aquarticles.
   2.  Link to  and original
        website if applicable.
   3.  Advise Aquarticles
Printed publication:
Mail two printed copies to:

Dr. Adrian Lawler
PO Box 48 Ocean Springs,
MS. 39566 U.S.A.

And one copy to:
#373 - 5525 West Boulevard
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6M 3W6

Trapping Snakes in a Pond

by Dr. Adrian Lawler

(retired) Aquarium Supervisor (l984-l998) J. L. Scott Aquarium Biloxi, Ms 39530

Original to Aquarticles


In my area, banded water snakes (Nerodia fasciata)(Figure 1) and cottonmouth moccasins (Agkistrodon piscivorus)(Figure 2) frequent ponds. They prey on tadpoles, frogs, toads, fish, crayfish, etc. in a pond, and can thus eat your prize fish.


wpe16.jpg (36059 bytes)

wpe9.jpg (17701 bytes)

wpeB.jpg (38396 bytes)

Since they can hide well, it usually takes a long time to actually observe if there are any snakes in your pond, unless you catch them sunning on the bank, log, stone, etc. Since they are hard to see it takes too long to shoot them, plus you can damage pond liner (if present), and it may be illegal to shoot in your area.

So how do you protect your fish and frogs (and maybe yourself) from snakes? Use live traps.

1) Set a minnow trap

Buy or make a minnow trap. Use mesh size of to 3/8 inch (commercial traps), or up to a size to still contain snakes you are after. Adjust size of funnel openings to allow for snake entrance. Position trap so funnel openings are half under water and half above water. Suspend/tie off trap with funnel holes as above and with trap next to side of pond.

Like most animals, snakes will patrol their limits of confinement (= edges of pond). Snakes, in swimming around pond edges, will be directed into trap (Figure 3). Trap should be positioned against bank at water surface so they cannot swim by it next to the bank while swimming at the surface.

Trap will work day or night. Many times I have trapped a snake the first night.

---funnel openings must be large enough for snake to enter trap.
---check trap frequently; one cannot leave snake in trap too long, because it may go back out funnel opening.
---if trap does not work in a few days, put a live frog or fish inside trap to entice snake into trap, or move trap to another location in the pond. Once they eat the bait in trap they are sometimes too full to escape out the funnel hole.
---small ponds can house more than one snake (I found 3 in one of my ponds which is 15' in diameter).
---Leave trap out several days after last snake has been caught, and periodically put trap back out to possibly catch other new snakes migrating into your pond from other areas.
---Push plastic bags into funnel holes with a stick so snake will not escape during its transport in trap to another area for release.
---DO NOT transport poisonous snakes to another area for release where they can pose a danger to others and a potential liability problem for you. See if a nature center, zoo, animal control officer, game warden, or other animal official can take a poisonous snake for display, educational programs, or release elsewhere.

2) Install cage under a sunning site

Put a cage under a log, plank, rock, etc. that snake frequents for sunning. When snake drops off sunning area into water it drops into cage. Cage should have sides that slope inward at top to prevent climbing out of top, and with enclosed bottom and sides. This type of trap can also be used to collect turtles that sun themselves (sliders, cooters, etc). Use a mesh size to contain animals sought.

This trap can be modified by attaching a sunning plank to top edge of cage and balancing it so that the weight of a snake/turtle on the side of the plank over the cage will cause the end of the plank over cage to dip down and tend to cause animal on plank to be put into cage. Use a light, thin plank. Use waterproofing compound on plank end that will be in the water so plank does not soak up water (and gain weight) and change the tipping point of the plank. Position plank and place a half pound weight (or weight similar to animals you may be catching) on it to see how it tips, and works, before you attach plank to top edge of cage. Since the snake (turtle) may not crawl to the end of plank, determine how far past top edge of cage you want the tipping point to be (= where the weight of snake (or turtle) will tip the plank down into cage).

Traps of this sort can be lifted out of the water and the contents dumped into a garbage can or cooler with lid if transporting the catch away from your pond.


Copyright 2007 by Dr. Adrian Lawler, Author Copyright 2007 by Aquarticles, Internet Sponsor

Author Information must remain with article.