Picking up snakes common for animal control specialist

All Troy Orr needed was a pair of gloves, he said, when he saw the bullsnake curled up in a corner outside in back of the home of Josh and Tarah Mann in rural Princeton at close to noon hour this past May 30.

Orr walked back to his pickup with the name North Country Nuisance Wildlife Control on the side parked in the front yard, got his gloves and returned. He then leaned down and grabbed the snake just behind its head and pulled it upward so that it stretched out to its approximately 4 1/2 foot length.

Holding the bull snake was no big deal for Orr, who has handled many snakes, especially garter snakes this spring.

Removing the bullsnake from the residence would likely be some relief for the Manns who live at the location. But only some relief perhaps, because the Manns, who have two children age three and nearly six, reported seeing three bull snakes there.

Orr didn’t see the other two bull snakes when he picked up the one on May 30, but said he suspected the other two could be under the patio’s masonry slab. He showed an opening between some patio blocks, saying that is probably where snakes go in and out, and called it the “perfect habitat.”

Snakes cannot regulate their body temperature on their own and so will move around in the environment to warm or cool themselves.  When snakes come out and lie in the sun they warm up so they can become active, Orr said.

Orr’s next part of his strategy would be to set glue traps for the other two bullsnakes. Once catching them, he said, he only needs to drizzle some cooking oil where the snake is attached to the glue so he can then pull the snakes loose.

Orr says he releases the snakes on properties where he has the homeowner’s permission.

“They are very docile, pretty cool snakes,” Orr said of bullsnakes. “Very beneficial.”

Orr recalled that this was the third or fourth bullsnake that he has picked up this year. That is considerably less than the approximately 700 garter snakes he removed from properties this year That is a higher than usual number of garter snakes, he said, suspecting that it could have been caused by the early spring, though he didn’t know for sure. A lot of garter snakes will crawl through cracks and sometimes get into basements, he said.

Orr noted that a lot of people don’t get along with bullsnakes. Literature on bullsnakes note that some will confuse them with rattle snakes. It doesn’t maybe help the bullsnake’s cause that they hiss, shake their tail and will sometimes lunge and bite, if feeling threatened.

A bullsnake is nonpoisonous but because of the noises it makes, it can scare someone who accidentally walks too close to one. One source on bullsnakes states that it gets its name from a snorting sound it sometimes makes like a bull. Bullsnakes can get between five and six feet long, with an average length of about five feet.

Orr didn’t offer a count as to the number of bats he has been called to remove this year, but said it tops the list for the number of any one kind of animal that he removes. The second most common one he is called to catch, he said, are squirrels, and third are raccoons.

As Orr looked at the bullsnake he picked up at the Mann residence, he commented that the snake’s eyes were whitish. That’s an indication it will soon shed its skin, he said.

Orr says his business is his sole livelihood and that he loves the job.

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