So, yesterday I arrived for work at Brown + Dutch and was greeted by the sight of Rigi standing next to a bucket holding a large wooden stick. A tree branch, really.
I got out of my car and laughed, “What are you doing – hunting snakes?”
“Yup,” he replied. “There’s a baby rattlesnake.”
Now, for all the snake sightings he’s had recently while taking the dogs out, I had never actually seen one myself. Brown + Dutch is located way up Las Flores Canyon, and the property abuts an old hillside vineyard, as well as a forested creek bed, desirable stomping grounds for any manner of wildlife.
Since working there, I had come across hawks, bluejays, hummingbirds, deer, squirrels, and lizards – all spied from the office window – and that was only during daylight hours. By night, misfortune left evidence of coyotes stalking neighborhood cats and rats infesting garages with abandon.
Even a few weeks ago, while the weather was still somewhat chilly, Rigi had seen what he had thought was a dead rattlesnake lying in the middle of the path along the avocado orchard. Bob, the dog, hadn’t even noticed it, but when Rigi and Alyson took the dogs out again later, the snake was gone.
I walked over to where Rigi was standing and peered down at the ground where the snake was huddled next to the main house. It was maybe only 8 inches long and no more than the width of my finger. It had curled up on itself and wasn’t moving.
Rigi told me that if we didn’t move, it wouldn’t see us, so we just stood there for a bit.
Baby rattlesnakes, in case you didn’t know, are actually more dangerous than adults. Apparently they don’t know when to release their hold after they bite, and so the venom continues to flow into the victim’s bloodstream. Or something like that.
Of course rattlesnakes are always a threat to hikers who tramp through the local hills, but dogs are especially vulnerable to attack, since they often don’t even realize the danger. Local veterinarians can administer rattlesnake vaccines, but I think it’s generally best not to get bitten in the first place.
Anyway, it was obvious that Rigi wasn’t going to be very effective with his branch, and there was no shovel to be found. Personally, we were all against outright killing the snake, as it could go on its little snake-y life somewhere else and not bother anybody. But with three dogs who would need to go for a walk eventually, something needed to be done.
So, I dialed 9-1-1.
It might seem dramatic, but actually the fire department is fully equipped to handle these situations, and their services (free!) come a lot cheaper than those of some special rent-a-wrangler.
When a firefighter eventually arrived, he seemed somewhat amused and yet sagacious in sharing his breadth of experience. Armed with a pincher-pole (the technical term) and a professional grade snake shovel, he confidently strode onto the scene.
I was somewhat disheartened by the sight of the shovel, and said, “We don’t really want to kill it – just have it taken somewhere else.”
To which he replied, “Well, that ‘somewhere else’ is going to be Heaven.”
And with that, he carefully extricated the snake from its resting place, and Hali and I turned away while Rigi watched the proceedings.
Then, it was all over.
So that’s one way to deal with intrusive wildlife.
Post-script: Waiting in my inbox at work this morning was an advisory regarding this year’s unseasonably high “bumper crop” of rattlesnakes. Yikes! Check here and here for how to spot and deal with these babies.