BIRMINGHAM -- With a dog-eared black bible,
snake tongs and a .22-caliber rifle in his pickup, Arthur "Buddy" Hawkins Jr. heads straight toward the things that
make other folks scream and run.
Copperheads, rattlers, roaches and rats -- Hawkins combats
them all as owner of Cahaba Pest Control and inventor of the Cahaba Snake Trap.
As the weather
warms up and cold-blooded snakes crawl out in search of sun and food, customers have Hawkins' phone ringing into the night.
Many want his new invention.
"I've been catching snakes for 10 years with a piece of PVC
pipe," said Hawkins, 60, a self-taught snake and bug enthusiast. "One day I just started thinking, 'Why not make
something that is consumer friendly?' I think God just laid this thing out."
inventor put a new twist on an old idea: a long-used sticky pad to trap the creatures, but with a commercial-strength plastic
outer case that makes it durable and reusable. Most other traps are cardboard.
The former shoe
retailer said inspiration came to him last summer in the heating and cooling section of Home Depot. He eyed pieces of aluminum
wall ducts, which looked like perfect fits for the critter sticky pads used for years in pest control.
He modified the idea to use outdoor plastic instead of metal, made it kid- and pet-friendly, and his invention was born.
Large, 32-inch traps are $54.99, and small, 15-inch traps are $25.99. Now, Hawkins' work shirts,
his business cards, his truck and his wife's car are all emblazoned with the coiled snake logo of the Cahaba Snake Trap.
And yes, this member of Cahaba Heights Baptist Church has heard all the serpent wisecracks.
"I told the people at church that I hope people don't think we are handling snakes here,"
He keeps some of his trapped snakes in his basement freezer, to either stuff
or use for publicity photos.
"I guess that's where the redneck part comes in," Hawkins
said with a grin.
Hawkins likes the idea of helping people, and leaving a mark on the world.
"When I'm dead and gone, this thing may still be here," Hawkins said. "I compare it
to whoever put water in a plastic bottle. Who would have thought that he could do it" and be successful? For critter
haters, the Cahaba Snake Trap captures them indoors or outdoors, rain or shine.
lovers, pests can be humanely released with a few squirts of cooking spray or a little vegetable oil. The device is drawing
Internet sales from around the nation, about 400 since July. He's also sold five in Australia, one in England and one in Vietnam.
Sales come by word of mouth and through his Web site, www.cahabasnaketrapsales.com.
"Over the last five years, I've seen a steady increase in the snake population,"
Hawkins said. "We have built all these homes and moved in on the critter territory."
Tuesday morning, Mountain Brook maintenance man Leon Sensabaugh found a 2-foot copperhead in his employers' snake trap, set
out at the home about a week before.
"It's not in my job description to be a snake-handler,"
Sensabaugh joked. Hawkins' trap "is a lot safer than chasing down a snake with a hoe. That's what I've done in the past."
With a patent pending, Hawkins hopes to take the world of creepy crawlies by storm in the coming months.
"I have the best job in the world, but other people would probably say no," Hawkins said. "The people
make it the best job. I don't care if I'm just killing roaches, I'm helping a family."