Since Wes has caught a few animals and responded to the most recent 911 emergency call that a copperhead snake was on the Greenway, he has been called the “critter catcher.” Although the snake he retrieved from a Greenway tree was a nonpoisonous banded water snake, he was bit on the hand.
Seth was also bitten by a snake he rescued from its demise on Sunday while running the Greenway. After his run, he walked to the water’s edge to see a duck. While walking back to the sidewalk, he noticed something move beside his foot.
“As soon as I said it was a snake other people came over to see, “he said. “It was struggling to get out of green mesh netting it was tangled in.”
According to Seth, the netting was in the landscaping. The more it moved the worse the snake became tangled and the more distressed it seemed.
When he realized the snake’s desperate situation, he picked it up to with one hand and tried to remove the netting with the other. Most of it came off the snake’s body but there was some around its head he couldn’t get off.
“In no time there was a crowd of people watching. One kid wanted me to kill it but I didn’t want to do that at all," said Seth. “I was trying to help it. I told the kid, let’s don’t, let’s save it.”
It was perfect timing when a concerned citizen, walking with his family came by with a pocket knife. He and his wife helped Seth remove the constricting pieces of netting from the snake’s head.
“It bit me when we were working around its head, trying to free it,” he said. “It bled a lot and some people were worried but I told them it didn’t hurt. The snake was just scared.”
While working with the snake, people gathered to watch out of curiosity. Seth said some were holding their kids back in fear while others were glad he was trying to help the reptile.
“I showed them it has circular eyes. The ones that are poisonous have slit-eyes and their heads are triangular shaped.”
An emergency room nurse, who was walking told him an untreated snakebite may become infected from bacteria. She gave him helpful information on how to clean it.
There was no way of knowing how long the large, 4-foot snake was stuck in the netting,, but one thing was certain, it was well enough to take off as soon as Seth put it the water.
After the helpful people went on their way, Seth met Cleveland Police Officer Brian Montgomery who was patrolling the Greenway. Officer Montgomery is also Seth’s school resource officer at Cleveland High. When he saw Seth was bleeding he asked what happened and gave him alcohol and bandages.
"Officer Montgomery asked me what was up with us Snyders and snakes," Seth said laughing.
“I think it’s ironic my dad caught one a week ago and it bit him and Sunday I am at the same spot trying to save one from dying in the net and I get bit on the same finger as my dad.”
Both father and son are not afraid to handle snakes and especially enjoy observing them in natural settings.
Chief Snyder said there will be more animal and reptile activities on the Greenway as it expands. The creek along the Greenway is a good food source of fish and frogs for reptiles.
“Greenways are a link connecting people with wildlife and nature. As it grows, many points along the Greenway will make it possible for wildlife to gain access.”
Both Snyders advise others to give creatures the right-of-way. Since Animal Control for Cleveland and Bradley County falls under the Cleveland Police Department, citizens are encouraged to call Animal Control for assistance.
“These snakes are quite common to every waterway we have in Tennessee. They are just as afraid of us as most people are of them. They have no desire to be around us. If you give them the right-of-way, they will move on," said Chief Snyder.
“It felt good to show the kids and the other people watching that there was no need to kill the snake. It’s good to help animals and help nature,” said Seth.
When Seth’s dad found out he was called “Seth-Dundee, Snake Wrangler” for rescuing the Greenway snake, he grinned with a prideful delight.
“He asked if my hand was OK, patted me on the head and laughed,” said Seth.