Rescuing a Snagged Snake

Oct 31, 2022

You see it all the time

– that orange mesh used as temporary fencing or ground barrier. For people, it can be quite useful. For snakes, like the one recently brought into Anderson Humane’s Wildlife Center, it can be quite deadly.

The garter snake was found at Raceway Woods in Carpentersville, tangled in the orange mesh in four places. The person who brought him in had cut him free, but the snake still had maggots and fly eggs in his skin where the mesh had caught him.

“Snakes are notorious for getting caught in mesh,” said Ashley Kendall, Director of Wildlife for Anderson Humane. “It’s on their slither route.”

In addition to orange mesh, Ashley said soccer nets and the artificial cobwebs used as decoration this time of year can also entangle snakes, owls, and birds. Because these items can cause injury and even death, Ashley suggests checking them often to ensure nothing is caught in them.

Thankfully the garter snake was healthy except for his infested skin. Wildlife staff used a toothbrush to try to clean him up underwater. But they weren’t able to remove everything. Thankfully, snakes shed their skin. The team just had to keep him and care for him until he had a full shed.

In the meantime, “he was a perfect little patient,” said Ashley. “It’s usually a challenge to get animals to eat in captivity. We’re not always able to feed them the live food they’re used to eating.” The animals are also under stress and often distrustful of those trying to feed them.

The garter snake, in contrast, was a good eater and a great patient, she said. Ashley and her team fed him live earthworms and kept him healthy for about a month and a half until he’d shed his infested skin.

Illinois laws require that reptiles are released back where they were found, a rule to try to prevent disease transfer. So the wildlife team took the clean, healthy garter snake back to Raceway Woods for his release – and sent him with a friendly warning to watch out for orange mesh.

Learn more about Anderson Humane’s Wildlife Center.

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