Spike in snake sightings keeps fire crews busy

Golder Ranch Fire District has responded to 500+ calls over the past 30 days
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 11:08 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Some Southern Arizona residents are “rattled” by a recent rise in snake sightings. Serpents are typically most “active” in the spring and fall. However, this year really has expert wranglers on the run.

“We have had over 500 snake calls in a 30-day span,” said Golder Ranch Fire District Assistant Chief Scott Robb. “It’s really the first time that we have had that [amount of calls in one month] over the past five years; when we started pulling data.”

Many of those calls were for rattlesnake removals.

“We move them about 100 yards away,” said Robb. “Typically, 100 yards is about as much as we can do to allow them to re-orient themselves without decreasing their chance of survival.”

Luckily, no GRFD crews have been bitten on the job. Robb says the fire district hasn’t had to transport any callers to the hospital this year, either.

Rattlesnake Solutions is seeing a similar spike.

“But it is totally normal and totally expected,” said Rattlesnake Solutions President Bryan Hughes. “We have also had a nice wet year and that’s what we haven’t had in the last five years. Also, in [the Oro Valley area] there’s a lot of expansion.”

Hughes says the problem is people and snakes are now active around the same time. Homeowners are doing yard work and putting up Halloween decorations as serpents are seeking dens for the winter.

“What you might have is a higher rate of survivorship of babies that are born [this Monsoon], but we had such a dry spring that we also saw fewer birthing events, too,” said Hughes. “So, it’s the same number of rattlesnakes roughly, just more people more likely to see them.”

Hughes expects calls to taper off by the second week of November.

Not all snake encounters are cause for concern, though. Robb says king snakes and non-venomous snakes can help keep pack rats at bay.

Here are some tips to help you avoid dangerous encounters:

  • Keep the doors to your home and garage closed.
  • “Snake-proof” your yard and home with mesh.
  • Limit standing water around your property.
  • Always carry a light when you go outside at night.
  • Be extra careful when removing holiday decorations, as snakes love to get into boxes and dark crevasses.
  • Store items in clear and sealed bins.
  • If you hear a warning rattle, back away slowly and deliberately. Do NOT make any sudden movements. Call your local fire department or a snake removal company.

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