Central Wisconsin Fox Snake Relocation Help

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djzander7
Posts: 1
Joined: October 24th, 2013, 6:02 pm

Central Wisconsin Fox Snake Relocation Help

Post by djzander7 »

Hello All-

Wondering if anyone here would be willing to help my father out with a snake problem he is having.

He has approximately 10-12 fox snakes hibernating in his basement on the sill plate where the house rests on the basement wall. To give a little history, he lives in an old 1800's school house with a field stone foundation that has seen its better days. There is a basement under an addition that was done to the house in the 70's. Growing up we always saw snakes in the yard, on the porch, and the stray garter snake in the house, but I never would have thought we had this many.

A friend of mine in Stevens Point (20 minutes from my dad) told me of a large hibernaculum west of the Wisconsin River that they could be relocated to.

I would undertake this duty myself, but for one minor detail, I really don't like snakes, I know it's an irrational fear, but it's one I haven't been able to get past since I was a child. The strange thing is, I have carried dozens of snapping turtles across busy highways so they don't get crushed without fear of ever getting bit, yet the thought of even a 3ft. fox snake gives me the willies...

So, is there anyone in the Stevens Point/greater Portage County area willing to help relocate some snakes?

Heaven
Posts: 43
Joined: July 8th, 2012, 6:51 am

Re: Central Wisconsin Fox Snake Relocation Help

Post by Heaven »

I could help relocate some to a den though it's pretty late in the season. I sent you a PM.

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muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: Central Wisconsin Fox Snake Relocation Help

Post by muskiemagnet »

relocating at this time would be problematic. too cold. also, they wouldn't know where to go. is the basement lived in? why not just let the snakes hibernate in the basement? if you can let them be for the winter, i'd be happy to help you explore options next year. if you need the snakes gone right now, well then do what you feel you need to but you will most likely kill the snakes in the process. it is more complicated than you may think. pm me and keep in touch as to what you decide.

-ben

corey.raimond
Posts: 240
Joined: July 20th, 2010, 8:43 pm

Re: Central Wisconsin Fox Snake Relocation Help

Post by corey.raimond »

djzander7,

Sorry for the late reply, but I feel like I need to add to this. I am glad that even though you are not a snake person are interested in helping these animals. Though I have to strongly advise against moving them for several reasons. Three that come to mind immediately are:

1) Most relocated adult animals don't take very well to where they are moved. They often will try to move into an area that looks familiar to where they came from and die from stress in the process.

2) Moving animals from one area to another spreads disease. There is an emerging snake disease right now called snake fungal disease that could be bad.

3) If you remove the snakes you will get an increase in small rodent population, which besides being a nuisance themselves will harbor many more ticks including Lyme's disease carrying deer ticks.

If you do move them make sure it is to a place which is close, is suitable for the species, and has a place for them to hibernate.


-Corey

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Badgerberling
Posts: 21
Joined: April 13th, 2011, 11:07 pm
Location: Madison, WI

Re: Central Wisconsin Fox Snake Relocation Help

Post by Badgerberling »

I wonder if there are potential den sites close enough to the house so the snakes could simply go to a neighboring den if the house could be snake proofed? If it can't be snake proofed the snakes will never go away because it remains available and must be more attractive than available alternatives. I'm always amazed at the simple avenues to shelter (burrowing animal holes, rock piles) snakes can use as den sites.

Of course, living with one of the most harmless snakes in N. America is not without reason.

I would enjoy seeing some pictures of the denning snakes. Thanks for attempting to come up with a solution beneficial to the snakes. I would be sure to listen to the experts on this forum (of which I am not one).

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muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: Central Wisconsin Fox Snake Relocation Help

Post by muskiemagnet »

hey badgerbirling, curious as to what your first name is.

it seems like relocation seems to be what everyone is suggesting. first of all, it is illegal without a restocking license from the DNR. i'm guessing some sort of impact evaluation would need to be done in order to obtain said license. i can pretty much guarantee that the license would not be issued due to SFD. a sizeable fox population near me is infected with the disease. we will keep a close eye on this next year. i sent a snake to madison for necropsy and tissue testing. the preliminaries came back positive. more DNA testing needed to be done at the federal level in order to determine exactly what species/subspecies of fungus we are dealing with at this site. i will hopefully find out these results when i meet with the director of the project as well as a few others that are going to be involved with this.

i know it gives most folks a nice warm fuzzy feeling. i commend the motivation. it can create more harm than good. DON'T RELOCATE SNAKES!!!!!!

i have heard from a trusted source that these snakes had indeed been relocated. as of now, it is heresay. i did contact the individual prior and recommended going through the proper channels. i found out that it happened. i contacted this individual and he/she never denied the claim. from how i understand it is that they were relocated way too late in the year and the viability of the den is questionable at best. the snakes probably did not survive.

let's evaluate this situation. we have a farmhouse with snakes in the basement. residents of this house want them gone. ok, how do we solve the issue?

A. educate the owners of the natural habits of a non-venomous harmless snake. they may grow to like the animals and if the basement is not used in the winter, they may learn to accept their scaly cohabitants as friends. heck, it's a cool conversation piece at least.

B. ok, the owners really don't want them in their house. they call it plan B for a reason. now plan B can only happen if the owners are ok with the snakes being outside of the house. plan B is seal the house as best as possible(which may take a year or two). along with sealing the house is to build a hibernaculum outside. this can be done in an aesthetically pleasing way and can be completely hidden if necessary.

C. here we are. "no, we don't want the snakes and we will kill them". now relocation is the only option. FOLLOW THE RULES. THEY ARE THERE FOR A REASON. education is still needed at this time. the snakes will continue coming back every year if the former part of plan B doesn't work. you and i all know that snakes can get in and out of anything so actually being able to seal an old foundation may be impossible. alert the owners to this real possibility. once this is understood, they may be ok with the latter part of plan B. as long as the construction is done properly, this will be a very viable option.

long story short, suppress the urge to do something that makes sense just because it makes you feel good.

-ben

matt ignoffo
Posts: 205
Joined: June 12th, 2010, 12:49 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Central Wisconsin Fox Snake Relocation Help

Post by matt ignoffo »

Am I missing the why part..ie why remove them?

Probably the most responsible thing to do would be just let nature take its course if the den is altered or removed. (Relocation would almost certainly mean an equally unjustified death anyways). The risk reward of introducing non-native specimens into a population is definitely not warranted with this species IMO.

Take care.

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