So, when exactly is the right time to call @papa-pepper?
For my aunt and uncle, it was when they bought a foreclosed property. There I was, driving back to Wisconsin from either Texas or Arkansas two years ago, when the phone rang. It was one of my dad’s sisters, and though we are on good terms, we rarely ever speak on the phone. But, she called me. The reasons? "Too many snakes!!!"
Trust me, there is not much else out there that would excite @papa-pepper as much as a call to capture and relocate snakes, especially if there is a lot of them.
Too Many Snakes? Is That a Real Thing?
Unfortunately, as life would have it, I would have to wait until the next weekend to stop by, and that was more of an evaluation of the situation. Finally, one the weekend after that, I was up at their new property. The previous owners hadn’t really kept it up when they were there, with horses in the basement and such, and it had been a while since they were there.
My aunt and uncle were in the process of remodeling the house and garage, but they kept running into snakes. Since they knew me, they figured that it would be best just to turn me loose for a while, and the problem would pretty much solve itself. Indeed, it did!
I had my three biggest @little-peppers to help, so we got started with a perimeter check. As it turns out, the snakes had mostly been using the garage and surrounding area as general living quarters, so we immediately started with the round-up.
In Wisconsin, we only had two native venomous species, and both happened to be Rattlesnakes. This makes it pretty easy to know the risk when you find a random snake. For the most part, if it has no rattle, then there is no real danger. This is part of the reason that the @little-peppers came in handy. The other reason is that you need someone to hold the snake-bag. I remember once when I had a snake in my “free” hand while I was lifting a rock with the other hand. A snake began to slither out from under it and the snake-bag was tied too tight for Pinkie Pepper to untie. Out of excited desperation I quickly decided to hold the snake I already had in my mouth while I grabbed the other one with my hand. Anyway, that’s another story, but the point is that having someone to hold the snake-bag is a big help.
Red-Bellied Snakes in the Snake-Bag.
For the most part, we were encountering a lot of Garter and Red-Bellied Snakes. Occasionally there would also be a Smooth Green Snake. Finding the Smooth Green Snakes was a bonus and a good sign. They were a more common species when I was young, and I hadn’t seen one in the wild in years.
Pinkie Pepper With a Smooth Green Snake.
Since the Smooth Green Snake feeds almost exclusively on insects, pesticides can devastate a population. As the food supply disappears or becomes contaminated, the snakes disappear too.
Papa-Pepper With a Couple Fox Snakes.
Early on in this adventure I also found a Fox Snake. Fox Snakes are amazing, but they are frequently killed by people who either just hate snakes or who are not educated on the native varieties of snakes. Since the Fox Snake has a copper-colored head, some people will misidentify them as Copperheads. Though Copperheads exist other places, they are not native to Wisconsin, so the chances of encountering one in the wild there are extremely slim. This is the same reason that many water snakes, or snakes near water, get killed in Wisconsin; misidentification. Water Moccasins are also not native to Wisconsin, so finding one in the wild there is extremely unlikely.
Pinkie Pepper with Fox Snakes.
I understand why people do not desire to have venomous snakes around, but it is worth at least knowing which species even live in your state. Again, the two types of venomous snakes native to Wisconsin are both rattlesnakes, the Timber Rattlesnake and the Eastern Massasauga, both of which are most commonly found in the southwestern part of the state. This means that if you find a wild snake anywhere else in the state, there is a high probability that it is not venomous.
Unfortunately for the Fox Snake, there are some who think it looks like a rattlesnake, and it also just happens to vibrate the tip of its tail as a self-defense mechanism… so that doesn’t help. Though these wonderful snakes can be very common in certain locations, I had rarely come across them in the wild, so this was a real treat.
While we were rounding up the snakes to relocate them, my uncle was still working in the garage. There were many holes to the outside, and a lot of random debris on the ground. We would pick up all the snakes that we could find and then explore somewhere else. When we would come back in ten minutes or so, there would be more in the garage to pick up again.
My uncle even found a large Fox Snake in the wall when he tore off some plywood. At first he thought it was a thick electrical cable, but it was just wrapped around a wire.
Pinkie Pepper With Red-Bellied Snakes.
As we continued to catch snakes, things finally started to slow down. We had a couple hours available, but we would eventually need to leave. For me, it was like a dream, as I have often had dreams where I was just catching insane quantities of turtles or snakes. It was always such a disappointment to wake up! On this adventure, though we were catching many and I had help, there was just too many to grab them all. I would have multiple snakes in my hand and try to grab another one, only to lose at least one of them.
Red Pepper With a Red-Bellied Snake.
When we finally decided that our time was up, out of curiosity we began to count our captives. Total that day, we had captured over fifty snakes. The four varieties were Fox, Garter, Red-Bellied, and Smooth Green. In all my years of rounding up serpents, I had never experienced anything like it! It was awesome!
Since we located so many that day, and quite a few were even pregnant at the time, and since my aunt and uncle were cleaning things up, the snake “problem” has been solved. Sure, there are still snakes there and many more in the area, but the “infestation” feel that they once had has disappeared.
Handfuls of Snakes!
Thankfully, my relatives were nice enough to give me call, rather than just trying to kill them all like so many other people would have done. My relatives had their snake population reduced but not eradicated, my family had an amazing day, and some snakes got a new home!
If you ever run into a similar problem, feel free to let me know!