Snake sightings are up

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

Well, here we are already into July and what a heatwave we have been having. Work has been constant and non-stop. Working in 100 degree temperatures has been a challenge.

But, working during hot days such as these comes with being a snake trapper. On some of these hot days, though, I think I must've been crazy for choosing this profession. But I love what I do and would choose dealing with the heat, sweating, and getting dirty any day over wearing high heels and a dress and being inside all day.

Not only has my phone been ringing off the hook with snake calls and questions, but I am also getting a lot of emails pertaining to more snake sightings this year.

So I thought I would discuss why snake sightings are up as well as some safety tips.

People are having more issues this season with nests of blacksnakes, some of which contain five or six large adult blacksnakes. The blacksnake typically mates from spring to June and than again in the fall. However, we have had some unusual weather this spring and summer, so I am seeing more late night or very early morning blacksnake calls. It seems some of these native friends are mating a little later this season. Usually you will have one female and possibly between two to six males competing to mate with her.

Meanwhile, copperhead issues have exploded. These snakes are mainly aquatic and I know we have had heavy storms but the heat affects their watery habitats and food sources. Streams, creeks and other areas of water don't seem to be as high as they should be which means these snakes will move in closer to get to the water instead of staying on higher ground.

My main issue has been around air condition units and pool equipment. If offers them cool shelter and with a lot frogs and toads for food. My calls have been coming in much earlier in the morning or later in the evening with this species also.

In recent edition of The Frederick News-Post, there was a picture of a timber rattler and the lady who encountered the snake. She stated she has never had an issue with this type of snake in all the years she has lived in her home. Most people think these snakes remain in very high rocky elevations in various areas of Maryland. That is true but with the heat and heavy rains it is not uncommon for this to happen from time to time due to a possible lack of food or a disruption in its habitat.

You already know I am a licensed snake trapper but most of my experience is in dealing with copperheads. They are one of my most favorite snakes out of all our of native snake species.

If you are out hiking, make sure to take careful notice of your surroundings. Wear a good pair of hiking boots as opposed to basic tennis shoes. I wear above the ankle boots but that is mainly due to my work, though I love to hike myself when I am not working. A walking stick is good to have if you want to look under rocks, old tree logs, piles of leaf debris. You can use it to lift up basic rocks, or poke under or around old tree logs and debris.

Not all snakes will warn you like a timber rattlesnake. I believe copperheads count for most of the bites in the U.S. by a venomous snake. But, if you encounter any type of snake it is best not to go near it. Observe it from a distance and if you are bitten please go to the nearest emergency room or call 911. That is something that can't be stressed enough.

Another recent FNP story involved a turtle which someone was trying to keep as a pet. This is against the law. The Frederick County Animal Control has a job to do and they are only following the law. This involves all Animal Controls through out the U.S. They are only looking out for the best interest of the animals. They do not just come to argue with you or just automatically take away your pet.

As always, get out and enjoy what nature has to offer.

And, as a quick and unrelated side note, I just wanted to say "thank you" to Outback on Route 40 in Frederick for their outstanding customer service.

Tammy McCormack is a Maryland Licensed Professional snake trapper. She writes a regular online column for fredericknewspost.com. You may contact her at snaketrapping@aol.com.

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