Monday, April 23, 2007

Rattlesnake Encounter

On Saturday morning my husband saw a rattlesnake! He was checking the bunny house, a structure that was on our property when we bought it. We don't use it for anything, but the previous owners raised rabbits there. We just open it now and then to check for infestations and to make sure it's not rotting away... well it's got a new resident now.

He opened the door and stepped halfway in, and heard this funny sound, kind of a hissing. He listened while the sound continued, and after 10 - 20 seconds he identified where it was coming from. He looked along the roofline, just above the door -- inches from his head -- and saw the rattlesnake! He ran away from the bunny house and came inside to tell me. But I was napping, so he waited for an hour and went to check again. This time it was gone, and that's when he came into the bedroom to wake me up and tell me about it.

Google revealed that timber rattlesnakes are endangered in New Jersey, and there's a number to call to report a sighting. The guy at the DEP was friendly and made lots of snake jokes, so it was kind of a fun experience. I almost hope we see him again so that I can call the nice folks at the DEP again. And maybe they'll send someone out to take the snake away if we make the call while the he's still hanging around.

Every time the dog chases her ball into the woods in our backyard, I wonder if the rattler is hiding in the leaf litter. She's already been bitten once, by a snake in North Carolina at her old house. So she *is* dumb enough to investigate such things.

As for me, I haven't really changed my outside activity since learning of our new resident. I've really just raised my awareness. I watch where I'm stepping, and I keep my ears open for hissing / rattling noises. I feel kind of privileged, actually, to have an endangered species nearby. I want to protect him, not kill him.

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