Ryan Lang has found success with his descriptively named business, Darn Varmints.
For 15 years, that’s what he’s been dealing with —mostly raccoons, skunks, groundhogs and bats. Lang is available 24 hours a day to remove nuisance animals.
He was inspired to launch Darn Varmints, a sideline to his main career as a remodeler, when he noticed the number of housing allotments being built on former farmland.
“Animals gotta go somewhere,” Lang said simply. “And most cityfolk seem reluctant to deal with animals.”
That’s where Lang, a Lawrence Township resident, comes in.
Q. What are your most common calls?
A. It depends on the time of year, but I’d say raccoons and skunks. Bats are really bad right now. They only breed once a year, from August to September, and they end up in people’s houses somehow. Springtime, groundhogs keep me real busy, coming out of the hole with their young ’uns. Wintertime it’s mostly squirrels and raccoons who go into attics.
Q. Raccoon, groundhog, skunk — which is hardest to deal with?
A. Skunk, without a doubt. Fortunately, I’ve only been sprayed twice. You learn how to read the animal and what to do by trial and error. You get sprayed one time and you learn to stay away from the back end. The hardest to get rid of is bats. You have to be there at a certain time of the evening to see where they are going in and out and try to repair it and not get attacked.
Q. What is the worst infestation you’ve ever seen?
A. This spring, I went to an old two-story farmhouse in Dalton that must’ve had between 500 and 800 bats in the attic and three feet (deep) of guano. I took a friend and they were flying all around our heads, it was horrifying. I more or less walked away from that job. The place needed a whole new roof and they didn’t feel they wanted to spend that kind of money.
Q. What kind of person does it take to do your job?
A. For one thing, you can’t be scared of heights. And obviously you can’t be scared of animals. In springtime, I probably pull at least 300 baby raccoons out of people’s fireplaces just above the damper. You open the damper and have to reach your hand in there blind to grab the babies without getting bit. I usually use a mirror and a flashlight.
Q. You don’t wear gloves?
A. It’s hard to feel anything with gloves on.
Q. How do people hear about you?
A. A lot of times people having an animal problem don’t know who to call so they’ll call the police department and they’ll refer them to me. I work with the Jackson, Massillon, Perry, Lawrence Township, Navarre and Canton police, and the (Stark County) Sheriff’s department.
Q. Do you have any funny stories?
A. An older lady called me one time and her eyesight wasn’t the greatest, I found out after the fact. She had an alligator in her backyard by the creek. So I saw it, I jumped on top of it and wrestled it. It was a rubber alligator her neighbor kids had been playing with and left in her yard. (Chuckles) I never did charge her for it. It was just funny.
To reach Darn Varmints, call 330-936-3169.