Rattlers are out early this year - FOX Carolina 21

Rattlers are out early this year

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

We're not the only desert dwellers wanting to get out and enjoy this unusually warm February.

It's a little early in the year for the rattlers to be out, but they don't know that.

So it's up to us to be on the lookout for them, be on our guard and respect the potential for danger.

David Padgett lives on a quiet street on the west side.

He can see up to five rattlesnakes a year, in and around his yard.

"When you open up your garage in the morning, you should look down. Don't be looking out for your paper. You look down. When you open up your front door in the morning, you should be looking down and not elsewhere because there could be a snake," Padgett says.

Just a few days ago a neighbor's cat was bitten by this rattler that was inside the neighbor's house.

We're told the cat has been treated and will be okay, but it's a warning.

Padgett does what he can to keep snakes out.

He shows us the bottom of his gate.

"This is a crude snake guard on the bottom of my gate that I placed there. And you notice the guard that I put by the rocks. I have wire and the plastic," Padgett says.

The Northwest Fire District gets snake calls every year.

The advice doesn't change.

Watch where you walk and where you reach, whether it's out working in the yard or even in the garage.

"As you're moving shelves, as you're cleaning, look before you step and certainly look before you reach, and potentially listen because a warning sign that the snake may give off, it doesn't always occur, but they may rattle first," says Northwest Fire District Captain Adam Goldberg.

"Those that are out taking the walks in the early evening, at dusk, it's always a great idea to have that flashlight. Always look a couple of steps ahead of you. You know it's great weather, but sandals and flip flop type shoes are asking for a bite on the leg," Goldberg says.

He says there are other things we can do to try to keep snakes out of our yards.

Messy yards can provide food and water for rattlers.

"Homeowners, reducing the environment for the snake. If the snakes are welcome--there's a lot of debris which means field mice or pack rats, water. That potentially increases the potential for a snake living or in your yard," Goldberg says.

He says if there is a snake that could be a danger, such as in your home, in a children's park or at a bus stop, call 911.

Don't try to remove it yourself.

Goldberg says, respect the danger.

David Padgett certainly has a healthy respect for the snakes that he sees in and around his yard every year.

Of course, I don't want to harm the snake, but I don't want it harming anybody else," he says

If the worst happens and you should be bitten by a rattlesnake, the experts say, stay calm and immediately call 911.

Click here for more tips from Northwest Fire.

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