Snake-y day for Lower Windsor police, who caught and relocated 3 reptilian home intruders

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Lower Windsor Twp. Police Officer Ben Wind wrangled three nonvenomous black rat snakes from two township homes on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, police said.

When Lower Windsor Township Police Officer Ben Wind and Sgt. Jim Thomas responded to two homes to deal with three uninvited snakes, there was no question about divvying up the workload.

"Notice I'm not in any of the pictures," Thomas told The York Dispatch. "I'm the camera guy and the flashlight guy. I'm not a big 'snake guy.'"

But Wind has owned snakes as pets, so wrangling the trio of 5- to 6-foot-long nonvenomous black rat snakes was a breeze for him, according to the sergeant. He didn't even get bitten.

"He did an outstanding job — he didn’t even think twice," Thomas said, adding that "some people are snake people and some people are camera people."

Snake-related calls aren't a regular occurrence for Lower Windsor Township Police, according to the sergeant.

"It's probably been six to 10 years since my last snake call. And that's OK," Thomas said. "I prefer it that way."

Lower Windsor Twp. Police Officer Ben Wind wrangled three nonvenomous black rat snakes from two township homes on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, police said.

But for whatever reason, residents of two township homes called 911 on Tuesday afternoon to ask that officers remove snakes.

Wind and Thomas first responded to the Hakes Hollow Road home of a man in his 70s who said he had no intention of sleeping there if a snake was slithering around behind his walls, according to the sergeant.

The 6-foot-long, very healthy black rat snake got into the man's attic by using power lines to get to a ventilation window, he said.

"Ben was able to coax it out," Thomas said, and the officers released it in a township farm field where there should be ample food.

Fled to roof: Not long afterward, a York County 911 dispatcher sent Wind and Thomas to a home along Bull Run Road in the township for a second snake complaint, giving them the house number and the information that it would be the home where a woman was standing on her roof, Thomas said.

"You can't make this stuff up," he said. "It seemed like we were on the air (with dispatchers) all afternoon about the snakes."

The 911 dispatcher's information was solid, and the officers knew right away which home it was without even checking the house number.

"The lady was on the roof and wouldn’t come down until the snake was out of the house," Thomas said.

That snake, which was a bit shorter than the first snake, was in the kitchen area of the home and had knocked out a recessed lighting fixture, he said.

Lower Windsor Twp. Police Officer Ben Wind wrangled three nonvenomous black rat snakes from two township homes on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, police said.

Wind caught the snake and the officers released it in the same field, according to the sergeant.

'It's back': But just minutes after freeing their "10-95," which is police-speak for suspect in custody, the 911 dispatcher contacted them again with the news that the snake was back in the Hakes Hollow Road home.

Thomas said he and Wind told the dispatcher that "unless it went two miles in 10 minutes, it didn't come back."

And in fact, it hadn't magically returned. It was a third snake — about 5 feet long, the smallest of the three — and it also was in the kitchen area. This one was sitting atop a doorjamb, Thomas said.

Wind completed his reptile-wrangling hat trick, after which the officers released the third snake in the field as well, Thomas said.

The sergeant at one point did have to get hands-on, he said — when one of the three snakes tried to get underneath the seat of their police cruiser. He held on to it as Wind coaxed it back into custody.

Thomas said he's been forced to remove snakes from his own garage from time to time and definitely appreciates them, but prefers to do that appreciating from a distance.

Lower Windsor Twp. Police Officer Ben Wind wrangled three nonvenomous black rat snakes from two township homes on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, police said.

All in all, both officers enjoyed their afternoon of getting back to nature.

"Doing something different that doesn't involve doom and gloom puts a smile on your face," Thomas said.

In the past, Thomas said, he has dealt with wayward emus, home-intruding bats, plenty of deer complaints and even a call for a hybrid wolf on the loose.

Black rat snakes are constrictors that eat rodents, amphibians and smaller reptiles such as lizards and other snakes. They have been known to eat both rattlesnakes and copperheads.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.