Rattlesnake Remover Conquers His Own Fear

rattlesnake release
David Coleman releases a rattlesnake off the beaten path. Photos by Robert Roy Britt

David Coleman was always afraid of snakes. “I wouldn’t be on the same block as a snake,” he recalls. “I was scared to death of them.”

Then a couple years ago, people started asking if he did snake removal. Coleman owns Precise Pest Solutions in Anthem, but he didn’t do snakes. He turned to Mark Paulat, interpretive ranger at Cave Creek Regional Park and snake expert. Paulat went with Coleman on several calls, taught him how to catch, remove and release a desert serpent back into the wild without harm to either party.

The requests multiplied.

“One night, I was unable to get a hold of [Paulat] for a call… so it was time for me to get my feet wet,” Coleman explained. Now, he gets calls all hours of the day or night. Search “rattlesnake” on Anthemstuff’s Facebook page and someone likely will have tagged David Coleman.

rattlesnake in bucket
A rattlesnake awaiting transport to a new home.

No Charge

When he goes out to dinner, the snake catcher—a metal pole with tongs on the end—is in the car. If his phone rings, his wife, Jeanine, summons a waiter and asks for the food to go. “My wife is very understanding about it.”

Here’s the kicker: He does it for free.

Why?

Because Daisy Mountain Fire Department does it for free, and Coleman figures they have better things to do than “send four guys in a ladder truck to pick up a 3-foot snake.” He’s now got a half-dozen others who will respond to a snake call if he can’t.

Coleman fetches snakes in Anthem, Tramonto, Desert Hills and New River. He’ll travel a bit farther within North Phoenix but charges a nominal fee. If someone tries to tip him, he suggests they donate the money to charity.

Catch & Release

Watch this video to see the entire process of catching a rattlesnake and removing it to a remote location.

No Fear

The guy who was afraid of snakes has grown fond of them, and he’s got the fear under control. “Once I’ve got them in my sight, I’ve got my tongs, I’m not afraid of them,” he said. “I know their activity, I know what they’re gonna do.”

Coleman treats snakes gently, careful not to raise one off the ground any higher than necessary to get it in and out of a five-gallon bucket.

It can take 30 minutes or more to release a rattler. He drives to a remote area away from homes, and not the same spot too often. He looks for ground cover and rodent holes (two things snakes like). He’s prone to talking to a snake as he releases it, calling it “she” even though he can’t be sure, and encouraging her, or him, to slither off to a new home.

Coleman’s number: 602-487-7312.

Rattlesnake Safety
Prevention, Removal and What to Do if Bitten
Rattlesnakes are transported in a plain plastic bucket, from backyards and garages out into the desert.

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Robert Roy Britt
NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels. Email the author.
Robert Roy Britt on Email

Robert Roy Britt

NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels. Email the author.

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