Snakes don't go looking to pick a fight. But they will defend themselves when they feel threatened.

That's what The Snake Guys, Bill Schumacher and Patrick Shaughnessy told me. And they should know. With more than half a century of combined experience handling snakes in Arizona, they are the undisputed experts in all things herpetology.

Learn about snakes in the desert southwest in Arizona
Bill posts many of his snake adventures on social media. This Mexican Hog Nose was impressive! // Photo courtesy Bill Schumacher via Facebook

Arizona Snakes: The Serpents of Cochise County

"Snakes don't usually hurt you unless you get too close. That usually happens by accident when people are working in their gardens, cleaning up their property, hiking, or when their pets get curious."

That's when Bill or Patrick usually get a call from a nervous home or business owner to remove a snake.

Read: Discover the Amazing Biodiversity of Arizona’s Sky Islands

Patrick Shaughnessy (left) and Bill Schumacher. Photo by Val Davidson/TSM. Everything else: Canva
Patrick Shaughnessy (left) and Bill Schumacher. Photo by Val Davidson/TSM. Everything else: Canva

"Well pick up all kinds of snakes, not just the venomous kind," Bill told me. A-Z Animals lists over 40 different snakes in Arizona, 21 of which are venomous. According to Patrick, they mostly see four different venomous snakes in Cochise County.

  • Mojave Rattlesnake
  • Western Diamondback
  • Blacktail Rattlesnake
  • The Sonoran Coral Snake

Not only do Bill and Patrick pick up snakes all over the county, but they get called out 24/7, 365 days a year. They frequently work with emergency responders and get called in by the police and fire departments to safely remove snakes.

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Learn about snakes in the desert southwest in Arizona
Western Diamondback. // Canva

When Do Snakes "Wake Up" in Arizona?

Snakes don't like cold weather, so you're less likely to find snakes on the move in the winter. However, they told me it's not impossible to run across snakes in the fall or winter. According to Fauna Factssnakes experience a state called brumation when it's cold.

Learn about snakes in the desert southwest in Arizona
Blacktail Rattlesnake. Photo courtesy Bill Schumacher // Created with Canva.

Bill told me, "When the weather is 50 degrees or colder, snakes brumate. They reduce their movement to maintain their body temperature and conserve energy." So if it's warmer than 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, snakes could be out and about.

Learn about snakes in the desert southwest in Arizona
Western Diamondback. Photo courtesy Bill Schumacher. // Created with Canva

"Last year," Bill relates, "I got called out to remove a snake from a Bisbee homeowner's basement in January. This year, I removed a rattlesnake right around Christmas."

Read More: Rattlesnakes are Waking Up in Arizona: How to Stay Safe

Snake Safety: How to Keep Your Kids, Your Pets, and Yourself Safe in Arizona

Snakes don't go looking for humans to bite or fight with. I asked Patrick what to do if someone spots a snake.

Here are his snake safety tips:

  • If you see a snake, slowly move a safe distance away, but keep an eye on it.
    • The guys often arrive only to discover the snake has gone into hiding, but no one knows where. If they can't find it, they can't remove it.
  • Don't run away. Instead, back away slowly.
    • You could fall and the snake could hurt you, so take care when you move away.
  • Remove pets, kids, and everyone else from the area.
    • Dogs barking, kids crying, that could lead to snakes biting. Control the area to keep everyone safe.
Learn about snakes in the desert southwest in Arizona
Mojave Rattlesnake. Photo courtesy Bill Schumacher // Created with Canva

Call the Snake Guys

Bill and Patrick will remove a snake from your property any time, day or night - and they only do it for donations. They don't charge a fee for their services, like some do. They consider it a public service - to the humans and to the snakes.

Learn about snakes in the desert southwest in Arizona
Coral Snake. // Canva

That said, it's good to remember they're coming out on their own time, with their own equipment, to help you so they appreciate donations to help cover the cost of the visit and the snake removal.

They're not always able respond to text or Facebook messages, so the best way to get in touch with them is to call:

  • Bill Schumacher: (520) 227-3597
  • Patrick Shaughnessy: (520) 236-0712

[Fauna FactsA-Z Animals | Wikipedia]

Special thanks to William Schumacher and Patrick Shaughnessy for the information and photos shared in this article.

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Gallery Credit: Val Davidson/TSM

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Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

Gallery Credit: Elena Kadvany