Hooked on the Midwest Double!
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H2 Double Hook
We have quite a lot of equipment in our herp room. Some are various items Scott has jigged up over the years, some are old favourites, some are new that we wanted to try out, some that are a fantastic idea and we have rebought over the years when the previous item had seen better days, some are that good in construction and design we have had for decades, and they have never let us down.
A common phrase you hear when buying something new is “You get what you pay for”. In our experience this is especially true when it comes to snake-handling equipment. Most of our collection is venomous. When keeping venomous snakes the main priority is about minimizing risk. A significant risk-mitigation is having reliable, top-quality products that don't bow, break, crack or fall apart. This is why we use Midwest products (and have done for the last twenty years) and recommend their products to people wanting to buy something new. Midwest Tongs has more than 40 years of experience making animal equipment. Over this time they have expanded on the range of their products, tested and produced first class animal handling equipment - from snake hooks and tongs to custom animal capture equipment. They are some of the most reliable tools we have come across and it is easy to see why their products are used by a great deal of professionals and hobbyists worldwide.
There are a few reasons why we don't hesitate to recommend Midwest products. Obviously the quality of their products is one reason, another is is the willingness Midwest has to improve safety. The safety of both the animals and humans. I’m vertically challenged. (Or a short-ass as most people like to put it.) Sometimes the length of a hook designed for a larger, heavier snake (and other various equipment) has me feeling (and looking) awkward. Midwest are happy to customise their products for your safety and ease of use. They are also happy to collaborate with you on a tool designed distinctly for you. The customisation service they offer is a nice touch on top of an already awesome product. A snake catcher or any business that revolves around animals looks a lot more professional with their names on the tools of their trade.
We understand there are plenty of cheaper options out there for equipment, especially if you don't live in America. Pet shops sell hooks that are undeniably a lot cheaper. You can also walk out the door with them instantly, not have to wait for them to be delivered to your door. The delivery from Midwest is fast. We received our last lot of products in approximately a week, after the invoice had been dispatched. From the USA to Australia with Covid in full swing is pretty damn impressive. I’ve had purchases locally take a lot longer than that!
Like any keeper, both Scott and I have our own preferred "tools of the trade". Scott has used two hooks that are his go to hooks for quite a lot of our snakes. He’s had these two snake hooks forever.
The oldest one is a hook that he absolutely loves and really in all honesty, I doubt its going to take one more “fix”. (Yes those are zip-ties covered in silicone, it's had a few fixes over the years as he refuses to loose this hook!)
He bought it 26 years ago from the Herp Shop and loves it - it's a sturdy hook and a great length for a lot of the species we keep. It's not just the practicality Scott loves, there are also a LOT of memories associated with this hook!
The other is a Midwest Hook that he’s had for a good 16 years now. It’s a standard 24” hook with a bevelled edge. They now retail for $29.95 American. (I cannot remember what we paid for it back then.) I wont sugar-coat it, change that to Australian Dollars and add freight, it certainly isn’t as cheap as the pet shop option. (This is where you make the freight worth your while and order a couple of products!) Unfortunately, the exchange rate puts quite a few people off, especially those that think ”It’s just a hook”. And that phrase "it's just a hook" couldn't be further from the truth.... After going through a few "cheaper" hooks, you will find the Midwest product is actually the cheaper option as it will last you a lot longer.
The picture of the Midwest hook above is Scott's other go to hook. This hook is 16 years old and is used damn near daily. It's been bitten, dropped, thrown, dragged, washed, used as a prodder and it has travelled Australia (due to the amount of animals we own, we don't herp or holiday together if its a longer trip than 2 days - these hooks have been on more herping trips with my husband than I have!) If you look at this hook closely you can see the little amount of wear and tear it actually has. We are NOT gentle with our hooks by any means - excitement or frustration overrules gentle placement every single time. You can see it’s easily got bare minimum another 16 years in it!
Mine is the 24” elapid hook that Midwest offers. It looks exactly like Scott's Midwest hook pictured above but with a slightly deeper hook to allow for elapids. The hook inserts are made from a solid anodized aircraft grade aluminium rod. These hooks are mounted into a slightly flexible stainless steel shaft.
I worked in pet shops for a long time, and I can tell you the hooks sold in pet shops don’t have anywhere near that lifespan. Nor do they get the recommendation that Midwest gets, nor do you feel as competent and as safe using them, especially when watching them bow with a snake on them. For the most part, pet shops buy a cheaply made option with no idea of what a hook should offer the keeper/catcher other than to pick up a snake.
We recently got a H2 Double Hook. They are for use with snakes with a heavier body. I call it my Adder hook. (Well it was before Scott decided he liked it and I had to share it!) We both absolutely love it.
Dana and the team customized it for me, (Scott just adapted!) It is not as long as the ones they normally sell (refer back to me being vertically challenged). They are available on their website (https://tongs.com/) with two choices of width between the hooks – 2”and 4”. The hook we have is 27", where as they are normally 40" in length.
I won't lie - I looked at the 2” of space in between the two hooks and thought “How much difference will that really make?” (We thought the 4" option may be too wide for species we work with which was why we went with the 2" option).
The space in between the hooks is designed to keep the larger bodied snake’s calmer on the end of a hook as it is more supportive of their body weight when they are lifted off the ground. I was shocked and honestly really impressed at the amount of difference it makes in handling a snake such as an Adder. We have a few Adders that really don't like to be hooked. They move about and try to get off the hook. When hooked with the double hook, they moved a little and then just sat there. We then saw benefits for this elsewhere – it’s breeding season here…. We have gravid females. We went round our reptile room hooking snakes out of their enclosures. The larger snakes that require more support sat easier on this hook.
It does take a bit of getting used to. I picked it up and immediately saw first use, that it is different to using a normal hook. The double hook at the end does make sliding the hook under a snake more difficult than with a single hook- but this is because we weren't used to it! We used it solidly for a week and now find we use it with the ease of a traditional snake hook. Once we worked out the angle that worked best for us there was no looking back.
We are really keen to share with you the other items we received in our last Midwest order - watch this space for more blogs on the other items.
Midwest Tongs contact details:
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We have no affiliation with Midwest tongs. We use and recommend their products because we have used them for a very long time and like using them. We find them durable, practical, and great value for money. We have Midwest equipment that has been in our reptile room for decades and they are is still in perfect working order, most of it looking near brand new. We also like the fact that the owner of the company works with animals, therefore has knowledge on the products he produces. Midwest also gives back to the hobby. The owner of the company founded Monkey Island Rescue - a not for profit rescue and rehab for unwanted/abandoned of all kinds of animals.