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How to Remove Duct Tape from a Snake
Whether it's a pet snake or a garden snake, duct tape can sometimes result in problems for the snake. Perhaps the tape was holding up something in the garden or along the fence or maybe you've used it indoors on some equipment or feeding bowls in the snake's housing and the snake just decided to slide through, detaching the tape onto itself. Whatever the cause, removing duct tape from a snake requires great care in order to avoid harming the snake's delicate skin and scales.
Note: This article should work for other types of tape as well, such as carpet, electrical, double-sided or gift wrapping tape. It may also work for the sticky side of Velcro.
Ensuring Your Safety
Put your safety first.Is this a pet snake you're familiar with handling? Is this a garden snake that you're absolutely certain is non-venomous? If the snake is unknown to you or is venomous, get help from a professional snake handler or reptile veterinarian and do not touch the snake. Even if the snake is a pet or a non-venomous garden snake, if you don't know how to handle snakes safely, find someone who does. Nervous, scared and poor handling of a snake will usually result in defensive bites.
- Wash your hands before and after touching the snake.
- It can be a good idea to have two people perform this task, to take turns on the painstaking work of removing the duct tape and to have the other person hold the snake in place. If a bite should happen, the other person can assist with first aid.
Avoid getting frustrated.This process takes time and you just have to keep at it. If the snake senses your frustration, this may agitate it. If you try to remove the tape too quickly, you can hurt the snake by removing scales and skin, which is both harmful and painful for the snake! Be calm and patient throughout the whole process.
Removing the Duct Tape
Hold the snake gently.If the snake is agitated and wriggling, you may need to hold its head area to keep it still. The type of hold and your ability to hold the snake will depend on the snake's behavior and the area the duct tape is stuck. In some cases, readers have experienced the tape sticking the snake to cage sides or even sticking the head still,which rendered the snake immobile or made it hard to hold the snake. It all depends on how your snake is stuck.
Cut as much excess tape as possible away from around the spot where the tape is stuck.You don't have to be precise, but leaving too much extra tape in place risks the snake getting restuck and just gets in your way when working on removing it. Since the snake's skin may stretch outward slightly when stuck, take extra care not to cut the skin when cutting off the duct tape.
Get some natural, edible oil.Good choices are olive or coconut oil. One reader has used organic safflower oil.Spray or liquid vegetable oil will work, just spray the oil into a small container first, for dipping into.You'll also need some cotton buds or swabs (Q-tips).
- Vegetable oils from the pantry are your best bet. Donotuse essential or fragrance oils; these are not edible and might kill the snake.
Dip the cotton bud or swab in some of the chosen oil.Be generous with soaking up the oil; it is the oil that will remove the sticky side from the snake's skin and scales.
Begin adding oil to the tape's sticky side.Gently wipe this oil off the swab end onto the tape's sticky side, at the edges of the duct tape where it is facing up and can be accessed by you.
Work the oil in gently.Carefully rub the cotton swab on the uncovered area of the tape's edge. Apply pressure against the duct tape's edges. Rotate the swab quickly and gently, to try to lift up a little more of the duct tape. The aim is to get oil onto the sticky side of the duct tape to release its hold from the snake's skin, bit by bit. As the oil releases the sticky hold of the tape, the tape will begin to release itself from the skin. Try to avoid pulling it unless it is absolutely obvious that the tape is already clear of the snake's skin. Pulling too hard may hurt the snake's scales and skin.
- This requires patience and gentleness; realize that it will require considerable time to keep working at the edges of the tape.
Continue to rub the oil onto the tape.Work gradually to get release of the tape at its edges, only pulling if the tape comes away easily. If there's excessive resistance to the tape, or you feel that removing that part may hurt the snake, then use more oil; do not pull!
- As parts of the tape come away, it can be helpful to cut these off, provided you can do so without cutting the snake.
- The cotton swab or bud may need replacing as you go, as it will gather adhesive from the tape on it and may become both less effective and a source of more stickiness.
Continue to work gently on removing the tape.Slow and steady working in of the oil will eventually remove the tape. Keep going until the tape comes off clear from the snake.
- If there is a lot of tape, you may need to try this in several goes. It is better to take the tape off slowly over a few turns than to cause the snake pain or harm it. Also, the snake may prefer a rest and have a large quantity removed over a few days instead of in one go. If you need to remove the tape in stages, cut off any tape that has already come away (being careful to not harm the snake), to avoid it becoming restuck on that loose tape. Check there is nothing in the snake's home that it can get caught on while it awaits the next turn at removing the rest of the tape.
Wash your hands.Dispose of all swabs and tape in a proper garbage container for sanitary removal.
Checking the Snake and Future Tape Safety
Assess the snake's skin.Once the tape has been removed from the snake, check for any cuts caused by pulling off the tape. Check to see whether a scale was pulled off. There may be a minor spot that should be watched over in case the snake needs to be taken to a vet.
- The snake will still have oil on it after cleaning off the tape. This can be gently wiped with some paper towel but any left on will soak in or come off on its own after a few days. The soaking in is precisely why you must use a safe oil!
Avoid using duct tape (or any tape) in the same manner again.If your snake was stuck the first time, there is a risk of it happening again. Find safe alternatives to the tape if you need to keep bowls, feeding tubes, etc., in place. If you do use tape, ensure it is not accessible to the snake.
QuestionWhat if the duct tape rips his skin, do I need to take him to the vet or will he be okay?CourtneyLaurenCommunity AnswerIt depends on how bad the rip is. I would take the snake in, just to be on the safe side.Thanks!
QuestionMy snake laid on some tiles and it has the glue on its skin. How do I remove the glue?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSoak it in warm water, then try to gently peel it off.Thanks!
QuestionI have a Velcro temperature and humidity gauge in my snake's tank. During the night, my snake climbed on it and got the whole thing stuck to her head! I got it off but there is still sticky residue on her head. What do I do to get the residue off?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUsing damp cotton buds or tissue, gently wash the areas where the residue is present. Only use water. Do not use soap. Do not wake her up or hold her down as this will stress her out. If she repeatedly attempts to bite you then leave her alone. There is a possibility she will get rid of it herself during her next shed.Thanks!
- Be patient.
- Be as gentle as possible throughout the whole process.
- It's normal to see a few pink areas that the acid of the tape may have caused. Keep an eye out for infection in case the tape has caused any major damage. Do not hesitate if you see infection; seek veterinary help immediately.
- Your vet may be the best choice if you cannot help your snake. The vet will have an animal-safe solvent to help work the tape loose.
- Oils with a strong odor may upset the snake.
- Take appropriate precautions in case the snake bites.
- Tape containing fabric thread to strengthen it may need veterinary assistance to avoid pulling the snake's scales off.
- Donotuse inedible, essential or fragrance oils; these may be poisonous to the snake.
- Just pulling tape straight off the snake can "skin" it; if this happens, the snake will likely die.
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