This desert is deadly. These badlands are forged daily by brutal extremes. Much of it is still untamed and wild, and if you don’t respect it, it can kill you. Meanwhile, at its core, it is quite fragile, its ecosystem under constant threat. Around here, they say that people don’t choose the desert, the desert chooses them. If that’s the case, it must have been a no-brainer when Danielle Wall came to town.
This small but fierce and fearless defender of the slithering is her own force to be reckoned with, with a heart that bleeds profusely for all animals, but most especially for the desert’s least popular natives. On her fourth year of pursuing an education in entomology (bug science), a chance car-versus-snake encounter changed the course of her life dramatically. “I was driving down the road from Rimrock and almost hit a rattler just lying in the road,” Wall shared. “I pulled over and was trying to figure out how to move it to safety. I grabbed a creosote branch and tried nudging it towards the side of the road. It eventually just moved along.” That encounter inspired research. Wall was surprised to find there weren’t many snake relocation services in the area. Now in her 5th snake season of donation-based wrangling, Wall gets calls at all hours of the day and night. As busy as she is, she still takes time teaching locals, adults and children, the important roll snakes play in the desert’s eco system.
A spot in the Seether, “Wasteland,“ rock video and a few phone calls from reality tv producers later, JTV caught up with Wall to ask a few obvious questions:
JTV: “When was the first time you saw a snake and thought, ‘I’d like to hold that critter?’”
WALL: “About three years into wrangling, I decided I wanted to try my experience (and luck) at free handling them. It’s not for everyone, and you have to be willing to accept possible consequences.”
JTV: “Have you ever been bitten?”
WALL: “By more nonvenomous snakes than I can count. By rattlesnakes, none.”
JTV: “Snakes vs people, go!”
WALL: “People are so much more deadly than snakes. I don’t worry about the snakes harming me, but I do worry about people doing so.”
JTV: “I know relocating snakes on a donation-based fee has been extremely hard on you financially. Are you going to keep doing it?”
WALL: “Season 6 will still be donation-based for local residents. However, there will be a fee ($60 weekdays, $100 weekends) for rented Airbnbs. If the owner of an Airbnb is the individual staying there, it will be donation based.”
JTV: “Does your mom hate that you play with snakes?”
WALL: “My mom was definitely surprised when I went from entomology (insects) as a main life-focus to catching rattlesnakes. On one of her visits, she accompanied me on three snake calls, and felt a lot more at ease. Watching me from 500 miles away, compared to 5 feet away, made a big difference for her anxieties of what I do.”
JTV: “What does one do if they’ve been bitten by a snake?”
WALL: “If it was a rattlesnake, get driven or life-flighted to an equipped hospital ASAP! Call beforehand to see if they can take you. Not all hospitals can or will properly handle snake bites. Loma Linda Medical is the best. You can research your own reviews of the JT hospital and rattlesnake bites… that’s all I’ll say on that front (be prepared for the unexpected, everyone. Do your research!).”