Snakes and Wildlife of Maryland

Talk to nature

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

Well, it has been quite a while since the snake trapper wrote a column. Of course snake season has been quite busy even in the cool weather. This snake season has been one of the most busiest since I started my career in this field.

I feel truly blessed. This may be a profession that one rarely would choose but it is the love of the snake and dedication to the people that makes it all worth while.

The reason I decided to write about talking to nature is since my mother passed away recently so unexpectedly it brought back al ot of memories. So I dedicate this to you, Mom.

You are never alone in nature. There is something always living around you — whether it's the wind blowing through the trees on a crisp autumn day or the sound of a creek with water flowing over the rocks.

My mother taught me many things growing up. Maybe we did not have enough money to always have material things, but we had food, shelter and clothing.

On a beautiful day, regardless of the season, she would tell me to go outside to not only enjoy nature but to listen and talk to nature. I thought people would think I was crazy if I was talking to nature.

But I did talk to nature. When I would hike in the woods I could hear the chipmunks, squirrels, birds and even the slither of a snake and I would say I am not alone because every living thing around me was alive.

Many times I would sit under a tree and take in the fresh breeze and the smell of the season. I would also look under rocks and notice the different smells while looking for snakes.

Plants, animals, insects and even the snake have a purpose on this earth. They help keep it clean and balanced. That is why when I listen and talk to nature I feel balanced.

So now no matter where I hike, climb or walk I observe, listen and take in all nature has to offer more than I ever did before.

These days as I try to heal from the loss of my mother I fully understand what she met.

So what are you waiting you for? Get out and enjoy nature, the change of the leaves, the crisp fresh air, and most of all talk to nature as she truly hears you.

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Tammy McCormack is a licensed DNR Professional Snake Trapper. She writes an online column for fredericknewspost.com.

Rest in peace Mom I miss you and you were the one who inspired me to become a snake trapper.

Snake Trapper Catch Up

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

I cannot believe it is almost the end of July. Time is flying by but that happens when life is so busy, and the Snake Trapper has been busy. Snake season 2013 has truly been filled with many blessings. This has been one the busiest in my history.

It took over 10 years but finally my snake company has finally opened. It was the best feeling to finally reach this part of my life. Taking a simple hobby, my enjoyment of snakes, and working with other people in a similiar field to be able to do this for a living. It has always been in my heart and of course there have been many bumps but finally I am there.

Just remember to never get ahead of yourself and slow down. Don't expect or wish you could have started at the top. Maybe that can happen with some. But with hard work and dedication you truly can reach your goals. There are many I want to thank, including the animal control agencies, Department of Natural Resources, snake clients, and most importantly the beautiful snakes of Maryland.

Well, there have been a couple of very interesting snake episodes this season I wanted to share with you. Have you heard of “Snakes on a Plane”? Well, how about snake on a helicopter. Yes, you heard it right. I was referred by the Department of Natural Resources to the Maryland State Police medi vac aviation command located in Sailsbury, MD for a snake that had apparently entered through the landing gear.

The pilot saw a Black Rat Snake on the other side of the hangar when backing in the helicopter. When he got out he noticed the snake had entered through the landing gear. So of course they had to keep the helicopter landed until the snake could be found. Yes, I do charge for my snake services just like any other company. But this was not about money it was an honor to do this service as they provide a valuable service to us.

They had spread flour all around the helicopter to see if there was any evidence of the snake leaving. But that did not happen. After a 3 hour drive, hot and sweaty, and them having to take the helicopter apart like a science project, we got the snake, which was laying scared and coiled up in the bottom panel underneath the helicopter. I was covered in flour searching for this snake and so sweaty I truly formed dough on my backside. My husband would not even take me to a restaurant to eat. We had to go through a fast food drive thru.

I did not wear a hazmat suite or bring a change of clothes. I just wanted to take care of the snake safely.

One other call that was exciting was a snake client who had a 6 foot blacksnake stuck in her toliet. Her daughter was taking a shower and when she stepped out of the shower the snake was coming up through the toliet. I will leave the rest to the imagination.

When I arrived on that call I was in the other room upstairs searching because the snake was not in the toliet when I got there. The client screamed and I about tripped over myself trying to get to the toilet. There he was, one big snake. He had himself wedged down in the toliet but I got him out safely, so no plumber was needed.

Of course her daughter moved downstairs to another bedroom and is using another bathroom. But all worked out well in the end.

We have had a hot but goregous summer. Get out enjoy what nature has to offer.

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*Tammy McCormack is a licensed professional snake trapper. She writes an online community column for fredericknewspost.com. You may contact her at marylandsnaketrapper@aol.com.

Blacksnake and copperhead alert

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

Well, I never thought I would get back to writing my column. Snake season has literally blown up. I have not been this busy since I don't know when. But, I have some exciting news. After ten years, I finally have opened up my snake trapping company. Literally a lot of sweat and sacrifice went into it, and a big thank you to the snakes helping make this happen.

This snake season, I have taken on a lot more Blacksnake and Copperhead calls. I thought I would alert you to why you may be seeing more activity this year. I have been receiving so many calls about this snake from people who have never had a snake on their property for years.

We have had a very unusual spring with temperatures being up and down along with quite a bit of rain. Blacksnakes are very active from their time of emerging from hibernation. They are very active in the day up until the end of June and than mainly only surfacing at night from June until September due to the heat of summer.

Right now, it is mating season. They always mate from April to June but their natural behavior has been limited due to the cool temperatures. Now that it is warmer, you will usually have one large female and perhaps two to four males competing to mate with her in a frenzy. It does not mean you have a nest of snakes. It just means when you see this many in one location it is due to their mating pattern.

As for the copperheads, the cicadas have emerged and this is a true delicacy food item for them. Also, their mating pattern has been interupted due to the uncontrolled climate. You may see one large female and one male together. The copperhead mates from spring to fall and its young are born anywhere from August to early October.

Black rat snakes lay eggs. Babies usually hatch from August to October. You need to be very observant when working in your yard if you are prone to having snake issues, especially since there seems to be more activity than usual this year.

If snakes just will not leave your property, do some online research yourself or call a professional to assist you. Black rat snakes can bite so make sure you are up to date on your tenus shot.

As for copperheads, if you are bitten, it is very rare that the bite is fatal. It is a myth that young venomous snakes have no control over their venom. Copperheads are among the weaker of the venomous snakes. They may put out 70 milligrams of venom compared to 100 milligrams from other venomous species. Copperheads are more dangerous in a nest situation than if they are alone.

Make sure to go to the hospital if you are bitten by a copperhead or a timber rattlesnake. Everyone is different in their reaction so always be alert and keep safe.

I hope all of you have a very safe summer and that you can get out an enjoy nature and all it's beauty. Please never hesitate to email me with any questions you may have.

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*I would like to dedicate this column to The Montgomery County Animal Control Police and Frederick County Animal Control. I would not be where I am today without your help. Thank you.

*Tammy McCormack writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com. You may email her at marylandsnaketrapper@aol.com.

Snake tips

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

Spring is here, but it doesn't seem possible. Soon everything will be blooming, and that means our wildlife friends are emerging from hibernation and our friends the snakes will be as well.

There are some important snake tips I wanted to write about. Let's first go over the basics since so many of you will be working in the yard, planting flowers and removing debris. This is when we possibly can encounter a snake, which can be very frightening for most people. Many people see a snake think it is very dangerous and then begin to panic. This is perfectly normal as snakes are very misunderstood.

I deal with this all the time. You need to always remember to stay calm, walk away, and never attempt to handle a snake on your own especially if you are not sure what type of snake it is. Even though it could be a harmless black rat snake, it still can produce a painful bite. If it is a local copperhead or timber rattler and you do attempt to remove it and get bitten, then it is very important to go directly to the emergency room.

If you feel there may be a snake issue of any type it is best to call in a professional. When looking for a professional, the main questions you want to ask a professional are:

What services do you provide specifically in the snake field? Do you do a full inspection, inside or outside depending on the snake issue? Do you go into attics, basements, crawl spaces, and sheds and under porches? Can you tell me how the snake got into my home, or if there is an infestation? What methods do you use to remove the snake? What if the snake is not here when you arrive? Are services provided in writing? What if I do not want the snake killed or for you to use glue traps?

As a snake expert in my field, I know there are many trapping companies out there. They can be very good at what they do. But you should never have to pay $400 to $500 for a snake call. Wildlife trapping is different and all companies can vary in prices, but you should not be taken advantage of when you have a snake issue. Every spring I also like to remind others about snake tips around the home. Snakes like to live in damp, dark cool places where food is abundant. Some examples are:

Firewood stacked directly on the ground Old lumber or junk piles Gardens and flower beds with heavy mulch Untrimmed shrubs, and shrubs growing next to or close to the foundation Unmowed or unkept lawns Garden and storage sheds with excess clutter where rodents become a problem Cluttered basements and attics, with a rodent or bird problem

I have seen snakes enter openings the size of a dime. It is very important that dryer vents, exhaust vents, bottom of garage doors, and entry doors are sealed or covered very tightly with weather stripping.

Spring is here with all it's beauty. Get out an enjoy nature!

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Tammy McCormack is a Maryland Licensed DNR Professional Snake Trapper. She writes an online column for The Frederick News-Post. You may contact her at marylandsnaketrapper@aol.com.

Loss of a beloved pet

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

Spring is just a month away. So many of us look forward to this time of year after a long cold winter. It is a time to get outdoors, spend time with family, friends, our beloved pets and be part of the joys of nature.

But it also seems like the time of year when some lose a beloved pet. One who is always their to greet us in the morning and evening. One who loves and never judges. A companion that brings so much joy.

We actually can become very dependent on our companions, just as they depend on us. We never think anything could happen to them and that they will be with us forever. But life does bring loss and this causes so much sadness and grief.

We often ask ourselves if we should have gotten them to the vet sooner. Or we wished we noticed our pet was sick sooner, or that we had more money to have helped our pet. But, sometimes there is nothing that could have been done.

Some people do not understand why a person can become so sad and upset over the loss of a beloved pet. They may say it is just an animal.

All of us handle loss differently and should never be judged. Some people can go into a deep depression, feel extreme guilt, anger, and can even become physically ill.

Just know there are therapy groups and other resources to help you cope with your loss. Yes, you will feel pain, perhaps cry a lot and feel lonely. But over time the pain will go away. You will still have your wonderful memories and eventually will be able to cope with your loss. They say time heals all pain, but, yes, there will still be the scars.

Contact your local animal shelter and ask about support groups if you have lost a pet. They are more than happy to help. But, most importantly, take time to heal and don't rush out right away to get another companion to help fill the void. Take your time and perhaps you will be ready for another loving pet.

Spring is almost here. Get out enjoy nature!

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This column is dedicated to my grandmother Orean Jackson who passed on Feb. 23. I miss you so much Mem-ma but I know you are no longer in pain and finally have peace. I love you.

Tammy McCormack is a Maryland Licensed Professonal Snake Trapper. She writes a regular online column for fredericknewspost.com. You may contact her at marylandsnaketrapper@aol.com

Maryland’s green salamander

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

Time is going by fast. I cannot believe spring is just around the corner and soon everything will come back to life. It is amazing how nature renews itself each spring. It always reminds me of snakes when they shed their skin. It can be dull during the long process but beautiful afterwards.

As a Snake Trapper you already know snake are my favorite animals. But I have also encountered other living creatures that are native to Maryland.

Have you ever really read about Salamanders? They truly are beautiful animals and are native to all areas of Maryland. However, the green salamander is a gorgeous animal and is considered endangered in our state.

The largest family of salamanders is believed to have originated in eastern North America. Salamanders are lungless and breathe through their skin.

The green salamander is black with green or greenish-yellow patches. Their head looks swollen behind their eyes. They are strictly nocturnal (only active at night), and they hide in rock crevices or rotting trees during the day.

When night arrives they climb on vertical surfaces. They eat beetles, mosquitoes and ants. Mating season for the green salamander is between May and August. The female lays a cluster of 10 to 20 sticky eggs which are suspended in a crevice by a short mucus strand.

The female green salamander will coil about her eggs to protect them until they hatch. It takes about 12 to 13 weeks for the babies to hatch. The hatchlings look like a miniature adult.

The green salamander loves damp areas, such as narrow crevices along sandstone. They also can be found under loose bark, rotting trees, and stumps. This species of salamander does not like extremely wet areas, preferring areas that are just damp. There are 21 species of salamander and newts native to Maryland.

Get out and enjoy nature!

Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law Robin. Thank you FMC for being a great management company who treats their tenants with respect.

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Tammy McCormack is a Maryland Licensed Professional Snake Trapper. She writes a regular online column for fredericknewspost.com. You may reach her at Marylandsnaketrapper@aol.com.

Snakes and renting a home

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

Hello all. Is everyone ready for the holidays? Some of us seem to be ready right away, while it takes some time for others. For those who are struggling this year I do hope things get better for you in the coming new year.

Talk up and down the street this week is about renting a home and having snakes as pets. This is a rather different subject since many people only have cats and dogs. Many apartment complexes state in the lease that no type of reptiles are allowed, though it may be a little different with a rental management company or private landlord.

First of all, always be honest with those you are renting from. I have received numeours emails asking this question which is why I feel it is important to write about it.

Believe it or not I rent my home through a wonderful management company. We are just waiting for the right time to buy a home and we are not sure if it will be in Maryland or Pennsylvania. The management company we rent from of course knows that I am a Licensed Professional Snake Trapper, and at times I do have snakes in my home. This has never been an issue.

But a couple of weeks ago they received a call from a concerned neighbor stating I had a snake farm in my basement. Well, this was not true since I have had numerous stories done on me pertaining to my work. I did state that it would be nice to have a large snake rescue or snake farm, though, and things get around.

Depending on the type of snake you have, there could be some liability. It doesn't matter if it is a corn snake or ball python, in the eyes of the landlord they may be afraid of someone getting bit or the snake getting loose. Also, your neighbor may have an extreme fear of snakes, so remember to never take your snake outside for all to see.

Please abide by the rules and be honest because it will work out better on your part. I have been in many houses where the previous tenant has either left snakes behind or they have gotten loose. This can be a very sad situation at anytime of the year. If you can no longer care for your snake, there are many rescues out there that can help. There are also many people who may be able to offer your snake a good home. The local animal shelter will even take a snake.

Remember, never keep extremely large snakes as pets in a rental home. No matter how good you are at taking care of them, accidents can happen. So please never let your pet snake go. It could die if it is a non-native species. This goes for cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, and other pets as well.

The animal shelter can help you so take your pet to them.

And, remember, regardless of the weather, get out and enjoy nature. As a last minute note may I ask that I be in your thoughts. I had a mammogram last week for the first one in my life and it came back abnormal. I'm having a biospy next week, so I am hoping everything will be ok.

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Tammy McCormack is a Maryland Licensed Professional Snake Trapper. She writes an online column for fredericknewspost.com. You may reach her at snaketrapping@aol.com.

Snake Trapper answers

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

Hello all. Can you believe it is almost Halloween! Where has the time gone this year?

Snake season has been very slow this year, and it has a lot to do with our strange weather patterns and the economy. Usually, September and October are extremely busy but not this year.

I have received numerous emails seeking answers to questions about being a snake trapper, and I thought I would answer some of those questions in this week's column.

Why do you call yourself the snake trapper?

At one time I called myself the snake remover, but as my skills grew I thought that while I do remove snakes only, my sole profession is to trap snakes. That is why I prefer "The Snake Trapper."

You have a "no kill" policy for all types of snakes. Why?

I believe all living creatures have a purpose on this earth, no matter how misunderstood they may be. Snakes serve a vital purpose and help balance our ecosystems. For example, they eat rodents that can carry diseases. They are also beautiful to look at and study, and they deserve the same amount of respect as any other living creature.

You were bitten by a copperhead a couple of months back. As a professional did this scare you or change the way you go about your work?

No, it did not scare me. I have always worked with copperheads. I have removed numerous nests of copperheads safely. However, it did change the way I approach a situation involving a poisonous snake. Trappers always need to be alert, have all their snake gear with them at all times, and never let their guards down. But most importantly, they can never be in a hurry when handling this type of situation. It was my fault not the snake's.

What did you do with Copperhead that bit you?

She is still with me. She suffered wounds from being in the garden netting so long, so I have had her treated and she is recovering well. I do have a state permit to have one copperhead in my possession. The copperhead is to be used for training and educational purposes only. Maryland is very strict about this, and we should always respect the laws and not remove these snakes from the wild. They can be dangerous especially if you are not skilled to handle them.

Will you go back to snake trapping next year?

Yes, but I will be changing the ways I work. I will go out on snake calls but will be limiting other services that I offer pertaining to snakes. I want to be able to train more Animal Control officers in proper snake removal when they are on the job along with providing snake education and promoting conservation.

I have one final note to all pet owners during this time of year. When Halloween arrives, keep your pets inside for their own safety. If you are a snake or tarantula owner please do not take your companions out in public. Keep them inside where they are safe. People have fears of snakes and spiders and can get very upset or even go into a panic attack.

Fall is here, so get out enjoy all that nature provides.

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Tammy McCormack is a Maryland licensed Snake Trapper. You may reach her at thesnaketrapper@yahoo.com. She writes a regular online column for fredericknewspost.com.

How to keep a wildlife and snake journal

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

This is the time of year when temperatures grow cooler and the leaves from the trees begin to change color and gently fall to the ground. It is the time of year of magnificent colors and crisp smells.

Believe it or not snakes and wildlife are still very active during this time of year, seeking extra food and hibernation areas for the long, cold winter ahead.

Many of us love fall and often take long walks, hike, or sit on the front porch enjoying the views and smells of the season. We are also so curious about our native wildlife. Some would even like to keep a journal of all the things they experience.

Often I receive emails asking how someone can go about keeping a detailed snake and/or wildlife journal. No matter if it is one individual or a whole family, it is great to do this and you can really learn a lot from it.

You can use a regular notebook, a special journal you have bought that you love to write in or whatever your creative mind can come up with. You can title it whatever you wish. Perhaps it is just one living creature you wish to study or many animals, but regardless, plan a day or even mulitple days and put your creative side to work.

For example:

Title your journal

Write down the date and time when a species was observed

Be as precise as you can as to where the species was seen. You may want to return to the location again one day.

Remember careful notes may one day help with future efforts to preserve and protect species in the wild.

Make note of the animal's habitat, the particular type of environment in which a species lives, such as a rocky hillside, forest, flowing stream or field.

Include temperature, humidity, precipitation, amount of cloud cover, sunlight, moonlight, and wind activity. Children especially seem to enjoy this.

With your weather notes on a certain snake or wildlife species this will also show how the species reacts to cooler or warmer areas compared to other species.

Describe the type of animal seen, including special markings or unusual coloration.

Try to do a little research on the animal to determine if the species is endangered, threatened, protected, or if it's a species of concern, on a watchlist, or if it's rare, rare and declining, or rare and local.

Take pictures if possible or maybe even try to draw what you see.

Please remember to always observe our native snakes and wildlife from a distance for yours and the animal's safety. Get out and enjoy what Maryland nature has to offer. There is so much to see and do right in your own backyard.

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Tammy is a Maryland Licensed Dept. of Natural Resources Snake Trapper. She writes an online column for fredericknewspost.com. You may contact her at snaketrapping@aol.com.

Copperhead, cottomouth, rattlesnake bite — What to do

by Tammy McCormack. 0 Comments

Well, it has been a long three weeks since I was bitten by a copperhead. I wanted to thank everyone for all the emails and well wishes. I consider myself very lucky as it could have been worse. As a Snake Trapper I have been very lucky over the years but this can happen to the best of people in this type of work.

I wanted to educate you with some updated snake bite prevention tips that were sent to me by Joseph Banashek. Joseph is a Mojave Rattlesnake Field Researcher in Adelanto, Calif. Joseph has given me full permission to use this new information in my column. Joseph has never been bitten by a venomous snake, and he has been doing this for over 20 years. He is a true expert in his field and is a part of the "Field Venom Research Team" in Loma Linda, Calif., run by Dr. Sean P. Bush (Envenomation Expert).

If you have any questions for him after reading my column you may contact him at cssrattlesnake@yahoo.com.

We do not have Cottomouth's in Maryland, but I wanted to include this snake in case you are ever bitten. Remember, Maryland only has two venomous snakes, the copperhead and timber rattlesnake.

In case you are bitten:

Call 911. Stay calm and try to relax. Should you experience a metallic taste in your mouth, this is a typical sign of envenomation.

Rinse the area with water to remove the venom that may be on the surface of the skin.

Remove rings or other constricting items of clothing, as swelling may occur.

Make no slices or punctures. Do not apply a touniquet or pressure wrap. Ice packs or heating pads should not be used. Do not attempt to suck out venom using your mouth or a suction device. This doesn't work and electric shock to the body doesn't work either.

Only drink water as you wait for help to arrive. Maintaining hydration is important with any venomous snake bite, and you should not take an aspirin or drink any alcohol. Have benedryl (antihismine) on hand to assist with possible mild allergic reactions. Keep an Epipen (for those who have a prescription for one) nearby. Should you have trouble breathing or feel as if you may pass out, use it immediately to prevent Anaphylaxis shock.

With moderate to severe envenomations, vomiting is to be expected plus you you may pass out. This is why you should never drive yourself to the hospital. You could hurt yourself more severely than the snake bite and you could cause harm to others.

If you are not able to contact 911, have someone get you to the nearest hospital. In antivenom treatment, time is critical. As Dr. Sean P. Bush says "time is tissue." The sooner you are treated with anti-venom, the sooner damaging effects of the venom can be controlled from spreading.

The following is optional depending on your situation.

Take a clear photo of the snake, but only if you or a friend can do so without putting yourself in harm's way. This can help the doctor to identify the snake should you have any unusual symptoms. Try to always carry a sheet of paper to write down a description of the snake, its size, and where you were when you were bitten, along with your name, address, personal information, medical history, allergies, prescriptions, insurance information and personal contacts.

And, as a disclaimer, we are not doctors. All information is what those at Mojava Rattlesnakle Research believe to be the most accurate at this point in time.

Always be very alert in your surroundings when hiking, gardening or doing any type of outdoor activity where snakes are present. As always get out an enjoy what nature has to offer.

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Tammy McCormack is alLicensed Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources Snake Trapper. You may contact her at snaketrapping@aol.com. She writes an online column for the fredericknewspost.com.