Sonny the Snake Guy

By Cindy Chapman

Sonny with a Bull Snake

He may be your typical IT guy but like Clark Kent, Sonny Baker has a secret

identity. This long-time Texan has come to be known as the Snake Guy. In one

particular neighborhood in Roanoke, he’s come to the rescue of many innocent

citizens. Just like any superhero, you’ll find him running to the rescue at a

moment’s notice. If you’ve got a snake, he’ll be there to identify it and re-home it

if necessary.

What started as mere curiosity, Sonny encountered a snake near his Roanoke

home. He and his wife had a newborn and out of an abundance of caution,

Sonny decided to do his own research regarding snakes native to this area and

which snakes were venomous. It didn’t take him long to discover that there are a

lot of misconceptions about snakes. A lot of the advice he had personally received turned out to just simply not be true. So in order to uncover the real truth about snakes, he took his research even further and consulted various experts in

the field.


Sonny’s determination to shed some light on the commonly misunderstood snake

has made him one of the most sought-after “snake experts” in our area.


Juvenile Yellow belly Racer

Neighbors often send him photos of snakes to identify, which he does happily.

Even more north Texans have requested his presence to come and remove a

snake from their property. Armed with a bucket, gloves, and a hefty helping of

fortitude, (cape not included) Sonny is happy to re-home any snake that may be

unwelcome.


Copperhead

Snakes may not be the favorite among the reptile family, but Sonny would argue

that they should be. Many snakes that we encounter in this part of Texas are in

fact quite harmless. One of the most common snakes, the rat snake, is good for

eating – you guessed it – rats and other rodents. They can be quite timid but are

sometimes mistaken for a rattlesnake as they will shake their tail (as most

snakes do) and rattle leaves or other objects creating that telltale rattling sound.


Cottonmouth

Most snakes are not looking for trouble, but rather a good meal or a place to hide

from danger. However, for some, it can be hard to erase deep down unmitigated

fears. It’s for this reason that Sonny dedicates his free time to spread the good

word about snakes on social media, in person, or just about anywhere a willing

ear will listen. So, while not everyone can be a hero to snakes like Sonny, we asked him to

debunk some common myths about snakes.


 Head and eye shape and snakeskin color alone cannot tell you if a snake

is venomous or not

 Snakes are not all that deadly - only about 5 people a year in the US die

from a snake bite

 In the event of a snake bite, do not attempt to suck out the venom or try to

agitate the wound

 If you see a snake, you’re going to be safe from a snake. 70% of snake

bites occur because the snake was hidden from view

 Do not attempt to kill a snake. Many people are unaware that Timber

Rattlesnakes are a legally protected species


Timber Rattlesnake

So what do you do if you run across a snake either in the wild or in your yard?

Sonny shared this sage advice:


Leave it be.

There are a lot of resources to help you identify a snake that you encounter.

What Kind of Snake is This – North Texas has a Facebook group where you

can share photos and learn more about snakes native to this area. Chances

are once you learn more about snakes and all the good they do, you won’t

mind having them visit your property every now and then.


However, if you do find yourself needing to rid yourself of one of these non-

legged friends, you can always call your local police department for

assistance. Or you can contact Nature’s Edge Wildlife & Reptile Rescue. This

non-profit is dedicated to rehabilitating wildlife as well as educating the public.

Sonny recommends making your property less attractive to snakes by

removing their food source (rodents, pet food, etc.), clearing debris that make

good hiding spaces, and keeping landscaping neat and trim.

He may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound but for some,

Sonny the Snake Guy does possess exceptional abilities that appear to

exceed that of mortal man.

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