Who you gonna call? Russ Lederman, that’s who, for snake removal
By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(May 4, 2023) Snake charmer? Snake whisperer? Russ Lederman prefers snake rescuer when you talk about what he does.
Lederman markets his free services as a snake rescuer on the Nextdoor app. He knows there are many people who suffer from ophidiophobia — an overwhelming fear of snakes — and he wants them to know he is here to help.
Lederman has been a snake lover since his days as a boy in Brooklyn, where there was a limited amount of wildlife. Even so, he would go to vacant lots in search of bugs and other animals.
“One day, I flipped a board and, wow, there was a snake. I was so thrilled, and I caught it. It was a Dekay’s snake. They are small, brown, harmless snakes that seem to have the ability to hang on in urban areas,” he said.
He later became a camper in upstate New York, where he was able to catch frogs and snakes. The other campers used to make fun of him because of his fascination with snakes.
“One day, I watched a camp counselor take an oar and smash to death a northern water snake as if he was some kind of hero. It just reviled me, the anger I felt.”
“People vilify animals rather than appreciate their part in the environment.”
His friends and neighbors in Ocean Pines know he loves snakes, so those who are uncomfortable with them in their yard call Lederman and ask him to remove them.
Word got around and eventually, he decided to advertise his services on Nextdoor. Sometimes he can get multiple calls a day.
“There’s no charge, if you want to tip me or give me some gas money, I appreciate that, but it’s not required. I just want to relocate the animal rather than it be harmed,” Lederman said.
He will go anywhere in Worcester County to catch a snake. He releases them in safe remote locations far from housing and low traffic areas so they can carry on their lives without fear of human interference.
Most of his calls are referrals from Worcester Animal Control, which will not come out to deal with snakes.
“I am happy to do this,” Lederman said.
“I don’t want to see snakes killed. If you have a problem with a snake being on your property, I will catch it and release it in a rural area.”
“The main thing I see here is that most people are not able to identify [different snake] species in Ocean Pines,” Lederman said.
Ocean Pines is home to ringneck, Dekay’s brown snake, garter, northern water, black rat, copperheads and the hard-to-find eastern king snake.
“The garter snake is the most common in Ocean Pines. Next would be the black rat snake.”
The only snake on this list that is venomous is the copperhead.
“It’s the only snake that has a wide band at the base that narrows towards the top. I’ve heard it called a Hershey Kiss. That’s a really good description,” Lederman said.
“Northern water snakes are just the opposite; they are wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.”
He wants to make clear that there are no water moccasins in this area. “The furthest they go north is Norfolk, Virginia.”
He encourages people to do a search online for snakes of Worcester County to find the names and pictures of snakes found in this region.
“Snakes are so vilified. I have this affinity for them and their situation.” he said.
“Snakes were here before us. The attitude of coming in and clearing out what you deem as bad animals is a flaw in the human psyche. It’s simply not right.”
Snakes play an important role in the ecosystem.
Snakes provide natural rodent control. Smaller snakes will eat toads and earthworms and insects.
“It’s beneficial for humankind to learn how to live with the wildlife around us,” Lederman said.
Lederman warns people who don’t want snakes on their property to not use Snake Rid or mothballs, both of which are toxic to the environment and animals, as well as people.
He knows several cases where people spread moth balls under their home to keep snakes away and ended up getting sick themselves from the mothballs.
“Don’t do that, call me instead if you find a snake.”
He encourages people to not touch or harass the snake, just keep an eye on it until he can get there.
He reminds people that it is illegal to kill any species of snake in Maryland. Just call Russ Lederman. He’ll be right over.
Text him at 410-251-4052.