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Old 09-04-2017, 07:41 PM   #1
Looking for info on how to safely handle rattlesnake encounters...

Hopefully your members can provide me some information on how to better handle encounters with both venomous and non-venomous visitors around my property. For the last 20 years I have lived in the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains and and we get all kinds of visitors down the canyon including deer, bear, coyotes, mountain lions and of course snakes. We're on a creek which often acts as a freeway for them. (Full disclosure, not a snake lover and my wife is terrified by them). We have dogs and cat that roam the property and them getting bit is a real concern. Over the years we have had a couple rattlers (one a road kill in front of the house, the other in the back yard when one of my dogs and I walked into him sunning. We both jumped back and he ended up heading down the hill back to the creek. We have also had a few encounters with gopher and king snakes in the yard and one in the garage. We are on the wilderness boundary border and know we will have these encounters (as do our neighbors).

Yesterday our 1 year dog went off like we had never heard her, barking in the garage. I went out to investigate and she was barking at a storage box right by the door I just exited. She was about 4-5 feet away, clearly upset. I grabbed a flashlight and could see a baby rattler (three buttons about 18" long) between the box and wall. I got all the pets out of the garage and tried to box the snake in, called 911 which dispatched County Animal Services for capture and relocation. The problem was while waiting for Animal Services the snake found a way out and started to move toward an inaccessible location. At that point I pinned it with a 6' long spade and cut the head off with a shovel. About 5 minutes later Animal Services arrived and was clearly disappointed that I had to kill it. He confirmed it was a rattler. I couldn't let it go roaming around in the garage as our dogs sleep their and cats are in and out all day long.

In retrospect are their safe ways to herd back to enclosed spot for capture? I have CO2 extinguishers all around the house. Can they be used to encourage and slow its movements in a non lethal manner? Or just invest in a snake tong for the next time it happens. Other options?

We don't have these encounters very often but I'm sure the possibility for more is real. My wife is of the only good snake is a dead snake school, I'm more capture and relocate if it can be done safely. Your member must work with them all the time and I hope have some safe handling tips. Just want to be better prepared for the next one that stops by!
Old 09-04-2017, 11:38 PM   #2
A broom, leaf blower, hose, etc. is better than killing the snake. Most bites occur while people are attempting to kill a snake. It's simply safer to let the snake go on its way. If harassed it will be reluctant to return. Additionally, there is always a degree of risk allowing animals to free-roam unsupervised (especially cats). If you are in an area where there is wildlife you simply must take precautions to protect your pets. If you'd like to learn more, join the Facebook "Wild Snakes: Education and Discussion" page. This is a common question. I'd give you a more thorough answer but I have to go to bed. Lots of professionals on that page though.
Old 09-04-2017, 11:38 PM   #3
We use long heavy-duty field herping tongs to relocate native venomous from our garage and from a few neighbors's homes (we're the "snake people" on the block LOL).

A company called Midwest Tongs made ours. There's a decent "how to" video on using them at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RkvdfJCXY4.

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