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"Snake Calls"

A fun thing I did while I lived in San Antonio was to go on "snake calls."  Basically, my herp club works with the Police Department and county sheriffs to remove snakes from people's houses. 

Some people kill any snake they see.  Others are too afraid to get near them, and some people actually want the snake relocated without having it killed.  The people in the last two categories are the ones who call for assistance.  Usually they call 911, or the police or sheriffs directly.  Those calls in turn are referred to the herp club.

Most of the calls I received were for rattlesnakes, because to most people, any snake with any sort of pattern on its back is a "rattlesnake."  Additionally, they would mention the snake rattling its tail.  This is not necessarily indicative of a rattlesnake, since many harmless species rattle their tail quite convincingly, in an effort to get the would-be predator (or person) to leave it alone.

I successfully found 24 snakes on these calls in the space of about a year and a half.  I did not respond to some calls--the snake was either already gone before I arrived or was confirmed to be a harmless snake. 

4-foot Western Diamondback

I rescued 5 different species of snake, with the Texas rat snake accounting for 16 calls and presumed to be the snake involved in 12 of the calls in which the snake escaped before I could get there.  This amounts to 53% of all calls, and 59% of those calls where the snake was positively identified.

I actually did pick up 4 western diamondback rattlesnakes (only 8% of all calls received) .  Other snakes I picked up were desert kingsnakes, a Graham's crayfish snake, and a rough earth snake (about 6 inches long, but the homeowner was deathly afraid of it!).

The snakes I picked up were either relocated or given to other club members.  I actually prefer giving them to club members/herpetoculturists, since a few studies have been made regarding relocation of snakes, and the results indicate the relocated snakes do not survive more than a few months.  This is because they are released into unfamiliar territory and do not know where to access water, shelter, and suitable hibernating locations.  They are therefore more vulnerable to predation.  However, I still believe it's better to give them a fighting chance at survival rather than meet their end at the hands of a scared homeowner, who will just beat the snake to death with a shovel and throw it in the trash!  At least if the snake dies after relocation, it can serve as a food source for other animals.