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One of the Biggest Rattlesnakes in Arizona Found Slithering Around Backyard

Newsweek 12/6/2022 Robyn White
A picture shows a rattlesnake slithering in an Arizona backyard. The snake was over 4 feet in length. © Rattlesnake Solutions A picture shows a rattlesnake slithering in an Arizona backyard. The snake was over 4 feet in length.

One of the biggest rattlesnakes in Arizona was found slithering around a backyard.

A homeowner in Cave Creek spotted the 4-foot-long Western diamondback "cruising their backyard," a snake catcher working for relocation service Rattlesnake Solutions, Justin Bagby, told Newsweek.

When Bagby arrived, the snake was stretched out on the grass.

"He was very calm. This animal likely came in through the large gap under their gate. He made it to their patio and just hung out there. This animal was very relaxed and wasn't too alarmed by my presence, even during its capture. He was relocated to an undeveloped area of desert north of the housing development," Bagby said.

At 4 feet, the rattlesnake was much larger than the average size for rattlesnakes in Arizona, Bryan Hughes, the owner of Rattlesnake Solutions, told Newsweek.

"This size, which we'd estimate at somewhere around 4.5', is not especially rare, but larger than the average rattlesnake in Arizona and among the biggest we've captured this year of over 1,000 rattlesnakes. If I were to relate it to human sizes, this snake would be about 6'6," Hughes said.

"Something interesting is how often people overestimate the sizes of rattlesnakes, or snakes in general. Rattlesnakes are routinely reported to us as being 6' or more in length. But, when we arrive, we capture a snake that is only 2 or 3 feet long. Fear does some interesting things to our brains. In Arizona, rattlesnakes over 5' long are rare—over 6' is unheard of. This individual is among the largest anyone would possibly see in the state."

Arizona is home to 13 species of rattlesnake, and they are particularly active during the spring and summer months. The most common species encountered in the state are the diamondback, Mojave, sidewinder and black-tailed.

Some rattlesnakes across the U.S. have reached lengths of up to 8 feet, but this is not usual in Arizona.

Rattlesnakes are venomous and bites can be dangerous if they go untreated. But they are rarely fatal. The snakes are not usually aggressive, but they will attack if they feel threatened.

The species are more active in the warmer summer months but can still be found slithering around properties in the winter.

"At this point, rattlesnakes are hibernating across the state. There is a misconception out there about what hibernation actually is, with an expectation that snakes just sleep the entire winter away," Hughes said. "However, it's not unusual to see one on the surface in the right conditions. With a rise in humidity or disturbance, a rattlesnake may come out briefly to drink or make short movements. This one, which was found in November, was still likely headed towards its winter den, which was likely in the backyard somewhere."


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