Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Readers Write In: Two Rattlesnakes Spotted During A Cat Walk, What Should I Do?

    We live in Surprise AZ alongside state lands. Yesterday and today about 5 pm on our walk with our pet cat we have come across (a Diamondback) in the yard, curled up and looks like sleeping. My cat was inches from it and it was not bothered, neither of them!

    Should we just leave them or take them out on the state lands a few thousand feet?


Jim T.
Surprise, Arizona

    Wow - talk about lucky. Check out these beautiful snakes that Jim found. The first snake is indeed a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) but the other is a Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes)! How cool!

    Jim touches on some themes that we have tackled here on Living Alongside Wildlife before. Specifically, whether relocating rattlesnakes to a nearby area is a viable alternative to killing them. The answer, as I describe in this previous post, is that relocating rattlesnakes often causes them to move around more (probably either trying to get home or looking for something they recognize) and die at greater rates than rattlesnakes that were left alone. So, it's not an automatic death sentence, but it's not a great solution either.

    Relocating rattlesnakes may be bad for more than the snake. Handling venomous snakes is kind of dangerous, far more dangerous than leaving them alone, if you ask me. Plus, if you find a snake somewhere, it probably means that you are in good snake habitat. And, for every snake you see in good snake habitat there are probably ten you don't. So, I don't think it makes much sense to do this dangerous activity.

    So, the real question was what Jim should do. Jim, I am going to suggest that you stay vigilant (watch where you put your hands and feet), keep that cat from investigating any nooks and crannies, and continue to appreciate this incredible landscape that you're sharing with some amazing animals. Thanks for the e-mail and question!

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