Snakes on the plains

By Casey Peacock, PNT Staff Writer

It appears snake encounters by residents inside Portales city limits are on the rise.

“We’re having more (calls) this year than in the past,” said Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry.

During the year, the department does receive a few snake calls, but the number has been higher this year. In the past week, animal control has responded to four, Berry said.

On Wednesday Portales resident Wilma Ferrell got a surprise while she was in her garage washing her car window. As she came around the side of her car, she spotted a snake crawling along her garage door. At the time she did not have the garage door open, she said.
“It liked to scared me to death,” Ferrell said of spotting the snake.

Unsure of whom to contact for removal of the snake, she immediately called her son, who lives in Clovis. Her son was able to contact officials from the Portales Police Department who responded to Ferrell’s residence. While waiting for help to arrive, Ferrell was able to open her garage door at which time the snake crawled behind a bucket and stayed there. At a safe distance she watched and monitored the snake in case it left the spot it was in, she said.

“It really upset me. It was a big-size bullsnake,” Ferrell said.

Ferrell, who has lived in the same residence for the past 17 years has never had an encounter quite like this, she said.

“I couldn’t believe what I seen when I saw that snake crawling along the door,” Ferrell said.

At the moment there does not seem to be a scientific explanation for the sudden increase of snake encounters inside city limits. Several factors could contribute to the increased sightings, but until scientists research the increased activity, it’s hard to say what the cause is, said Tony Gennaro, retired Eastern New Mexico University wildlife biology professor.

“”It’s a chance process that happens. I don’t think it’s anything special,” Gennaro said.

John Luhman, who lives west of the Greyhound Arena, arrived home on one recent afternoon with his 4-year-old son Giovanni to find what he says was a 4- to 5- foot rattlesnake on the sidewalk near his porch.

Luhman, who recently moved to Portales from Maine, said he immediately picked up his son to make sure he was in a safe place.
“When I picked him up I showed him, ‘That’s a rattlesnake,’ so he knew to stay away,” Luhman said.

Luhman then called animal control and watched as the snake slithered across the road into a field. A thorough search by the animal control officer failed to turn up the snake.

Though Maine doesn’t have rattlesnakes, Luhman was pretty sure it was a rattler because he had seen another one the week before on a camping trip at Capitan.

— PNT managing editor Karl Terry
contributed to this report.