‘Snake Chaser’ sees spike in calls for copperheads, other snakes

Grand Strand

It’s not just tourists who are out enjoying the warm weather along the Grand Strand – it’s also the favorite season of snakes, and they’re finding their way into people’s homes and yards. 

Russell Cavender, also known as The Snake Chaser, said it’s copperhead season, and he’s getting slammed with calls this month. 

It’s because it’s cicada hatching season, so as the insects come out, so do the snakes in search of an easy meal. 

In the early part of the year, Cavender finds a lot of different kinds of snakes, but June through August is all about the copperhead. This past week he found 21 of them in two separate yards: 16 in one yard and five in the other.

The Carolinas Poison Center gets 10 times as many calls about copperhead bites as it gets about bites from other venomous snakes.

But Cavender wants people to know, while venomous, the copperhead is not an aggressive snake. 

“They’re not gonna intentionally bite you,” Cavender said. “One thing about these snakes here is, they don’t want to bite a human being. Their venom is very precious. They need it. It takes energy to build that venom up.”

Cavender catches about 100 copperheads a year. 

But don’t confuse the copperhead with the cottonmouth. The cottonmouth and copperhead are from the same family, but the cottonmouth likes water and the copperhead land. The former should be avoided at all costs. “They can kill you,” Cavender said, because of their copious amounts of venom. 

He pulled two from a neighborhood Monday. 

Snakes aren’t the only animal keeping him a little “batty” this summer. In the first ten days of July, he’s already responded to 50 bat calls. 

But whatever the critter, Cavender and his team make sure they go to a good place. “We don’t kill them cause we don’t need to,” he said. “They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

If you see a snake, you can reach out to police and they can help assess the situation. If they’re unable to safely remove the snake, that’s when animal catchers like Cavender step in. 

Snakes aren’t aggressive but they are protective. If you happen to get bit don’t panic and head to the emergency room. 

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