I recently acquired a set of the Gentle Giant tongs and the Midwest combination hook, pinner and bagging tool. These safe and sturdy products have stood up admirably in the last few weeks to rather rough field usage, from crawling into a swamp after cottonmouths to pushing through heavy brush after rattlesnakes. They have moved large Eastern diamondbacks and sacked adult Gaboon vipers, and have also been gentle enough to use on smaller, light bodied snakes (2' - 3' crotalids) without fear of injury.
So far, the crowning achievement of your field equipment came this morningwhen I had to prepare fifteen large and angry Crotalus atrox (Western diamondbacks) and four very squirmy adult copperheads for transport to a venom lab. My normal assistant was not able to help, and the schedule was uncomfortably tight. But your bagging tool and the Gentle Giant tongs made the operation a breeze. With the tongs, the snakes go in easily and stay in, and safe closure on the bag can be achieved quickly with your remaining free hand.
The deep, wide surface of the Gentle Giant tongs is a comfortable rest for most snakes, and the grip is firm but evidently not hard enough to be painful. Most snakes don't attempt escape nearly as often or as frantically as they do when lifted on a nonrestraining hook or caught in more severe tongs. I've had to completely readjust my reflexes to these much easier-to-use tongs after years of learning a very delicate touch with the Pilstrom model. I believe that the Gentle Giants are the only tongs that can safely be used to pick up a small to medium weight crotalid midbody rather than by just the caudal (lower) third of the body, giving you more options to get your grip on a problem animal. Larger viperids should still have most of their weight supported on the ground or with an additional hook while being moved (4'+ crotalids, 3'+ Gaboon vipers), but you have a lot more leeway with this tool. Elapids can be grasped midbody or higher.
Perhaps best of all, the Gentle Giants can be used by the novice with fair confidence. The fact that its grip is secure without causing undue pain or panic to the snake makes it a comparatively safer product to use, though of course no operation involving venomous snakes is without risk.
I am helping to organize a program called Snake Getters, in which volunteers can be called on to safely remove unwanted snakes from populated areas. In some areas however, there are no qualified herpetologists available to volunteer.
I recently visited a horse ranch in rural Alamaba to help instruct the owner in safe and humane removal methods for rattlesnakes on his property. In these cases I am recommending your product as the safest humane method of rattlesnake control, significantly safer than attempting to kill the animal with any weapon other than a firearm from a distance. The safest response to a venomous snake is always to back away and to call a professional, but for rural property owners who decide that they definitely want the option of humane removal, there is no better or safer product.
For the snake keeper who needs precision control without harming his or her animals, the conclusion is the same: the Gentle Giants are the best and safest product on the market for both keeper and snake. There are other tongs on the market which I would never recommend to anyone who does not have a thorough, instinctive and gut level understanding of a snake's physical structures and their fragility. It is much too easy to injure a snake with them, especially in a moment of panic or high excitement. Itwould actually be difficult to do much injury to a snake with the Gentle Giant tongs. As long as you use the tongs in the caudal (tail) half of a viperid's body - I'll even stretch it a bit and say the lower two-thirds for lighter animals that aren't struggling a lot - you can't hurt a snake.
Unless of course you mistake these tongs for the probing tool. :)
Tanith Tyrr, Snake Getters