In an all too familiar scenario, a rattlesnake has decided to escape the heat by entering someone’s basement through a crack in the foundation, unbeknownst to a homeowner. When the homeowner, we’ll call Larry, encounters the snake, he is confronted by a dilemma: Does Larry kill the snake to protect himself and his family or attempt to remove the snake and relocate it? Either scenario presents a challenge. Killing a rattlesnake in a house is not as easy as one would think. Larry would need to choose a proper tool for the task, one that would keep him a safe distance from the snake, assuming Larry is mentally up for the challenge of confronting an increasingly defensive venomous snake, which is responding to Larry’s series of rapid movements as he maneuvers around the snake. If Larry is not adept at dispatching the snake quickly, the difficulty of that task increases along with the risk of being bitten. Many people are unable to effectively judge a snake’s striking distance and may end up with an ankle or foot too close to the striking snake. Additionally, if the snake is killed, either involving decapitation of the snake or not, the fang and venom apparatus is still reactive to touch for a few hours, and can potentially result in envenomation from a theoretically dead snake. Another risk of attempting to kill a venomous snake is the possibility of the snake suddenly lunging away in a grand attempt of escaping Larry, who is moving rapidly around the snake, a behavior which further encourages elevated levels of defensive reaction.
A second option is available in which Larry can opt out of the risks involved in the dispatching of the snake and instead work towards capturing the snake and releasing it some distance away from the house, perhaps less than a mile away. Ideally, Larry would select a capture container, such as a stout trash can with handles, and a long-handled tool, such as a rake or broom, and approach the snake calmly (assuming Larry still has a cool presence of mind). One of the advantages to a calm approach to live capture is that the snake may decide that Larry is not such a threat as once believed, so the snake adopts a calmer demeanor and thus, becomes a bit more cooperative for the capture attempt. This behavior will reduce the risks of snakebite, as well as the risk of escape into areas where retrieval of the snake is more difficult. The other advantage to live capture is the snake, in and of itself a highly efficient predator, can continue doing it’s job of helping to control rodent populations around Larry’s house, and Larry will have the satisfaction of not having to kill an animal when an alternative is potentially available. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt for Larry to investigate the opportunity to seek out training in the capture and relocation of a venomous snake or at the very least, locate personnel who are trained. If Larry is aware that venomous snakes exist near his house, he certainly has the incentive to seek out options for dealing with these snakes appropriately.
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Adaptation Environmental Team: Bryon, Joe, and Kelly