Slithery surprise greets Alamo man in his yard Comments on Stories, posted by Editor, Danville Weekly Online, on Sep 23, 2009 at 8:29 am
An Alamo resident stepping outside for a quiet glass of wine instead found a stressful surprise. Rich Conti said on Sept. 4 he and his wife were in the back yard when their dog suddenly began barking and they discovered a 6-foot-long rattlesnake.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 22, 2009, 6:05 PM
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 23, 2009 at 9:03 am
Why not call animal control and have the snake released up on Diablo? They are part of the ecosystem and help keep the rodent population under control. Shame they decided to kill it. We get all kinds of snakes including rattlers around our development. We always let them make their way to the open space.
Posted by Michael, a resident of the Walnut Creek neighborhood, on Sep 23, 2009 at 9:40 am
This is in response to Mike's comment. My home backs up to the open space and I am not surprised to hear this story at all. 1 week ago to date there was a young, (1 1/2yo) two foot long rattler at the base of our front stairs, it was immobile because the sun had gone down and getting cool out so, I sat and watched it while my wife called vector control to retrieve it, my son in the meantime went for his air soft pistol and said "just in case". I was crystal clear that I did not want to harm this snake and told my son to put his pistol away. Vector control showed up within the hour, he got out of his van, grabbed his pole and a plastic bag (red flag) and got the snake into the bag, with quite a fight to get it in there. I asked what was going to be done with the snake and his response was "euthanize it". He continued by saying that Mt. Diablo has more than it's share of rattlers and that is why we are starting to see more of them. I pick up spiders and put them outside sometimes, I leave them alone but when this guy gave me this information, I thought maybe I should pay attention before someone in my family is hurt. Mike, I was in the same position you are until it happened to me. Rich, thank you, your quick action could quite possibly have saved someone from a snake bite.
Posted by Danville Neighbor, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 23, 2009 at 2:57 pm
Come On People! This is a 6-foot rattler, which is VERY dangerous!
Can you imagine a child or pet coming across this snake? It took 2 adult men to kill this snake, it easily could have seriously harmed or killed a kid. I 100% agree with the decision to kill this snake.
On a final note - I am just glad this mother of a snake was far away from my snake-less (I hope) home in Danville.
Posted by A Live Coward, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 23, 2009 at 5:01 pm
We all have our fears. Mine is snakes of all makes and models. (Also Republicans, but that's another story). Mr.Conti did the right thing under the circumstances. I have called the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in the past for "wild Life" help, but their response time is not quick enough to be useful under these circumstances.
Finally, I think that Danville has a "huge" Cougar problem that needs to be addressed. I suggest closing all bars after at 8pm on weekends. That may also have an indirect affect on the snake problem.
Posted by Common Sense, a resident of the Alamo neighborhood, on Sep 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm
Are you guys kidding me? While I completely agree it is unnecessary to kill things for no reason, Rich had more than enough cause. There is a dangerous animal living in his backyard where his family resides every day. Do you think the snake would have thought twice about biting Rich if he was in the snakes territory? Absolutely not. When animals grow way beyond their average size (as seen in this case) that is a sign of a healthy habitat for that particular species. Clearly rattlesnakes are doing just fine in the east bay. Rich acted just as I hope everyone would have acted in his situation...thinking about the safety of his family, neighbors, and friends above all else.
Posted by Mr. Mustang, a member of the Monte Vista High School community, on Sep 24, 2009 at 1:46 pm
Chopped off the head??? That is just terrible terrible terrible Mr. Conti and neighbor friend. You should have figured out a way to kill it and keep it all in one piece...that thing is garage trophy!!!
Posted by Duffy, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:35 am
This is one of the funniest collection of reactions I have read in a long time. I especially liked
the one "We all have our fears. Mine is snakes of all makes and models. (Also Republicans, but that's another story)" The die-hard libs never miss a chance to inject a little political sarcasm into an otherwise rational discussion, But then perhaps it was because the rattle snake was hiding in the BUSHES!
Posted by Susie, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm
I live off El Cerro and found a very large rattlesnake in my yard a few years ago. I called both the Danville police and Animal Control but NO ONE would come get it. The police said "call Animal Control" but Animal Control never showed up. My neighbor finally killed the snake. I'm with Ron: "All those who want the snakes, please post your address and next time I will throw them over your fence into your yard for safe keeping."
Posted by who me?, a resident of the Diablo neighborhood, on Sep 26, 2009 at 7:03 am
you're all a bunch of wimps. walk around the serpent and let it live. and by the way, when's the last time anyone actually has been bitten by a rattler in this area? if it happened, it would be front and center on this website. anybody?
PS - throw it in my back yard, maybe it will kill the deer - that's where we need population control
Posted by Nan, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2009 at 9:54 am
I worked for the department of Natural resources for two summers in a "people to the parks program". The naturalist and I gave outdoor workshops for groups enjoying the parks. The most important thing to remember about all snakes, is they are born and live within a 50 yard radius their whole life. So unless the snake is removed and relocated to the other side of the mountain where nobody lives, the snake will find its way back! Let's not be so smug, pets, and kids, are more important to our society than rattlers!
Posted by A snake hobbyist, a resident of another community, on Sep 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm
As a interesting note that is NOT a Western Diamondback rattlesnake, that is a Southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis helleri). The dark color, scale arrangement and banding identify it as such.
A shame it had to be killed, but with a lack of training on wildlife removal, and if the local Animal Control was not willing to come to remove it, he did not seem to have any other options.
Ideally keep on hand phone numbers of organizations that would be willing to remove and relocate wildlife, whether they be venomous or nonvenomous. The life span of any wild animal cornered in a residential area is significantly reduced and can be a threat to other animals. Putting them in more rural areas not only makes it safer for us but helps these creatures continue doing what they were meant to do.
Posted by Eric, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2009 at 8:56 pm
It's a well documented fact that rattlesnakes have a striking distance of twice their body length. Six times two equals twelve foot striking range. It takes one teaspoon of venom to bring down a 180 lb human male. An adult rattlesnake of that size has 4 tablespoons of venom. Do the math. That is VERY dangerous to have in our neighborhood. I don't know about you, but it's scares the crap out of me to think of all the kids this snake could have bitten. Simply removing the snake would not solve the problem. The snake was obviously eating well in the neighborhood.
Posted by A snake hobbyist, a resident of another community, on Sep 28, 2009 at 7:54 am
Rattlesnakes can only strike half their body length, it is a myth that they strike any father, they do not have the muscle mass or body strength to "spring" forward. A 4 foot individual will strike a about 2 feet.
Venom in any rattlesnakes or for that matter any venomous creature varies dramatically not only from species to species but the location and health of the venomous creature. Each species of rattlesnake local to California has a distinctive and unique mixture, somewhat like a finger print. Venom reacts dramatically with each person in different way, your health, how much venom the snakes inject and how you choose to react to the bite can vary (Yes adult rattlesnakes can control the amount they us even in some cases doing a "dry bite" not even using the venom).
Rattlesnakes do wander and roam, currently there is some research being done on how far they really go but most scientists agree they go about 2-8 miles from place of birth. But humans destroy their habitat, drought and lack of food makes any animal wander from their natural territory in such of food and safety. While their striking speed is very fast, their general locomotion is about 3 miles per hour, making them slow and easy targets in a high traffic area. This snake come out of the wild, not comprehending that this new area was a very bad place to be.
Rattlesnakes are food for animals such as Kingsnakes, Coachwhips, Bobcats, Eagles, Pigs and numerous other species. Humans can even eat snakes, the meat is somewhat like fish.
Snakes have a place in nature, they are not evil, mystical, can't jump, fly or out waiting to kill us. They are just one of the many creatures out there that uses venom as the only defense it has to get food and protect itself. More people die from car accidents than snakes bite every year.
A good couple of links on rattlesnakes are these if anyone is interested. Web Link
Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2009 at 9:09 am
Thanks, ASH -- I had a suspicion that Eric-the-Well-Documented Factot-er was not as reliably informed as he claimed, and my googlings confirm your 1/3 to 1/2 body-length strike distance. Three-feet is rather less than Twelve.
I have also heard that juveniles are more dangerous than adults, as they tend to strike with less warning, and unload their entire stock of venom. I didn't bother googling that last assertion, though, so take it for what it "may" be worth.
Posted by Sharon, a member of the San Ramon Valley High School community, on Sep 28, 2009 at 10:07 am
Citizen Paine, you are right on target Re: juveniles being more potent. I'm on alert whenever I hike - I would much rather run into an adult rattler. No rattler at all is even better...I'm an animal lover (and we have had snakes as pets) but I avoid poisonous varieties if at all possible.
Lindsay W. - can you actually drop snakes off at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum? I thought they had some restrictions around animal drop off. Do you represent the museum? That would be good information to have in general!
Posted by Lindsay W., a resident of the Walnut Creek neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2009 at 11:12 am
Sharon: nah -- no connection to the museum, although that IS their address. I was just trying to give slight pause to The Pompous by entering an address.
Lindsay Museum seems to finesse the rattler issue on their website, which your inquiry chastised me to explore, to make amends.
Prevention tips: "Snakes not wanted in yard."
Since snakes primarily feed on rodents, make your home and yard rodent-free. Alteration of the habitat will be the most successful way to reduce rodents. Keep leaf litter, lumber, trash and rock piles to minimum to reduce hiding places for rodents and snakes. Snakes in this area do not climb nor dig, so installing a tight-fitting fence can keep snakes off your property. The fence should be 3' high and buried into the ground at least a couple of inches.
And, regarding injured/orphanced critters: "Injured or orphaned snakes."
The Bay Area is home to many different species of snakes, including the gopher snake, kingsnake and rattlesnake. The only venomous snake in the Bay Area is the western rattlesnake; all other snakes are harmless. Snakes are beneficial because they eat many animals we consider pests such as mice and rats.
Do not attempt to handle rattlesnakes.
Baby snake: Leave it alone. Snakes can care for themselves from birth.
Snake caught in bird netting: Do not attempt to remove the netting yourself-you will likely injure the snake's skin. If it is not a rattlesnake, cut the netting about a foot from the snake and bring the entire mass to the museum. If it is a rattlesnake caught in netting, call animal control (in Contra Costa County call 925-335-8300).
Injured snake: Place in secure container and bring to the museum as quickly as possible.
Snake caught on sticky trap: Do not attempt to remove the snake from the trap. Bring the snake still stuck to the trap to the museum as quickly as possible.
Posted by Sharon, a member of the San Ramon Valley High School community, on Sep 28, 2009 at 1:07 pm
Thanks for the clarification Lindsay. We have had snakes slither by our yard, but no rattlers so far. I find them while hiking but as this is their territory I expect that. I still keep my eyes on the ground, just in case - so far they just ignore us!
Posted by Ron, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2009 at 3:45 pm
Hey Lindsay, looks like your the Pompous. Next time find a real solution. The museum does not want them either, I tried that last year. You have two choices with these snakes, kill them or take them for a ride. Most people are afraid to handle these snakes and a shovel works just fine. Or better yet, you ever throw a snake into a chicken coop?
Posted by Dan Conti, a resident of the Alamo neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2009 at 5:38 pm
While I appreciate the thoughts and effort on how to save these reptiles, and generally agree that whenever possible saving an animal is advantageous over killing it (does that disclaimer make me exempt from the “pompous” category you so generously referred to earlier?). I think a little scope would help you. I am rich’s son and lived in that house for 21 years. I could spend hours telling you about close encounters (including the time I was swimming in a pool with one) as well as the numerous dogs that have been killed and our neighbor whom spent a week in the hospital because of one of these. I don’t necessarily find joy in killing these animals and we are not out there hunting for them…but it comes down to the simple logic that if you stumble across something that is a threat to you or your family, you do whatever it takes to eliminate that threat, plain and simple. While ideally it would be nice to “make my home and yard rodent-free” or “Keep leaf litter, lumber, trash and rock piles to minimum” but come on...unless I want my yard to be a barren field that’s unrealistic. I am going to keep getting rid of any dangerous snakes that threaten me just like I have been doing my entire life, but don’t worry, by the looks of this picture they are doing just fine.
Posted by Concerned parent, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2009 at 11:08 pm
Dan Conti - your Daddy done raise you right. IMHO any parent who leaves a living rattler in their back yard is asking for a visit from Darwin.
We decided on our snake strategy the day our first born came home from the hospital. King, corn or any other non-poisonous snakes are to be welcomed with open arms, as an ally in the war on rodents and gophers, but if it rattles kill it. Leaving a poisonous snake to slither off leaves it just as free to slither back and, especially if you have kids, that just strikes me as reckless.
Posted by Bob, a resident of the Blackhawk neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2009 at 4:47 am
Rich did the right thing, those that disagree, have you considered the following:
Many times people stumble on the rattle snake before the snake has time to rattle a warning, it can be in a garden, next to the step off a deck, or at the doorstep of the front porch, you can just walk out and be bit, just like that! What if Rich hadn't been there with his dog? That would have been a sure bite. Same for cats, and children? You get bit, your looking at maybe being flown to the hospital via a medivac not to mention what happens to pets. If rattlers are making a population gain on Mt. Diablo, this action on Rich's part is more than acceptable to protect the community.
Posted by More Info, a resident of the Alamo neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2009 at 4:41 pm
I am a friend of the Conti's.
Rich's toddler grandson Tanner spends every Thursday at their house. The snake was caught directly outside their back door, right next to the area he plays. Anyone who knows about young kids knows that they will head straight for something "interesting".
I can only imagine the disaster that could have occured if the grandson stumbled across the snake the day before (Thursday) the day Rich caught and killed this snake. It could have been very, very bad.
Posted by hjkhjg, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2009 at 8:19 pm
So, you killed an innocent creature for now reason? It did not harm you OR your dog but yet... you kill it?! You had it under control, you could have put it in a container or bucket of some kind and THEN called animal control to come save it, but instead you kill it! When is the last time you or anyone else will see a 6ft rattle snake in their own backyard. I hope karma sure catches up to you someday....KILLER
Posted by Concerned parent, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2009 at 11:31 pm
hjkhjg's KILLER label is an interesting one.
From it we can maybe deduce that "hjkhjg" is a vegan who allows mosquitoes to feast unmolested, who allows ants, mice and rats to amble wherever they please in the kitchen and who has never owned a pair of leather shoes, (not even Birkenstocks?), never owned a leather purse, briefcase, wallet, watch strap etc.
We can also deduce "hjkhjg" would refuse a ride in a car with leather seats, and never fly Southwest airlines, (all their seats are leather.
And unless hjkhjg is a Native American that whole concept of "home", and who it belongs to can get a bit fuzzy.
Having the head of a large snake pinned to the ground does not constitute control, finding a suitable container on short notice would challenge many people and persuading this large a snake into such a container would be even more of a challenge.
The assumption of innocence, on behalf of the snake, is also interesting since many snake eat their own young, and one this size had likely eaten it's share of cuddly mammals and baby birds.
But there is some hope since "hjkhjg" does admit that being bothered by a snake is an OK reason to bother it back. This nicely gets us off the boring black and white "thou shalt not" to the far more interesting "maybe".
So maybe all us non-vegans can agree that it is OK to kill a snake in your own yard:
a. as long as it is poisonous.
(Let's ignore over-sized pythons, for now, and agree that the non-poisonous snakes around here are at least going to be good for rodent control)
b. as long as you preserve the skin to make something useful.
Debate topic - belts are pretty obviously OK but do wall decorations count?
c. as long as you eat the flesh. (It's OK, you are allowed to cook it first).
Debate topic: does feeding it to your dog or cat, in lieu of their usual meat diet, count?
Debate topic: does using it to fertilize your apple tree or cabbage patch (for subsequent eating) count? Ornamental roses? Hmmm.
Man, this is so much more fun than TV, and, many thanks to Mr. Conti and the Danville Weekly for making it all possible.
Lastly, this site has some interesting info, including the reassuring thought that only 3% of bites are fatal and this lovely description of how much fun you might experience if you get bitten while trying to wrestle a rattler into a box:
"Symptoms of an envenomated bite include: immediate pain, swelling and discoloration, weakness and giddiness, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, hemorrhaging from the wound site, circulatory disturbance such as rapid, fluttery or thready pulse and a drop in blood pressure. Bites on face or neck may result in difficulty in swallowing, numbness of lips and tongue, excessive thirst and cold sweats"
Posted by wow..., a resident of the Alamo neighborhood, on Oct 1, 2009 at 10:45 am
hjkhjg, so when you say you hope karma catches up to Mr. Conti, what exactly are you referring to (what could karma do that would be worse than placing a 4 ft rattlesnake in your backyard)? Pretty strong words coming from someone who goes around anonymously calling people killers.
Posted by hjkhjg, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Oct 1, 2009 at 4:36 pm
First of all you got the size wrong smarty.. 4 ft is alot different than 6 ft... second of all you live by Mt.. DIABLO... that is were they LIVE so, your bound to see a rattle snake every once in a while. And to mystery concerned parent... did i ask you to get all involved in this? No i didn't.. look at everyone else's comments, other people are just as upset, sorry that i care about animals and think it is EXTREMELY unfair for someone to kill it when it wasn't doing anything wrong. GOODBYEEEEEEE
Posted by Mark, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Oct 1, 2009 at 5:11 pm
hjkhjg is a good example of why we must do a better job supporting education in our community, his views not withstanding. The basics, such as grammar, are wanting, vis a vis punctuation, use of "were" when "where" was needed, etc.
I think that it's great to care about animals, even rattlesnakes. However, the folks who live on that property, the Conti's, do so because we as a community allowed it to be zoned as residential property. hjkhjg, I assume that you vote.
We all have the blood of that poor, venomous reptile on our hands. Personally, I think that the Conti's chose an excellent place to live, and although I care about God's creatures, if a potentially dangerous creature was on my property, my concern for my children would override, and I'd get rid of it, even if it meant having that creature become an ex-creature.
Posted by Geoff Gillette, Danville Weekly reporter, on Oct 2, 2009 at 11:36 am Geoff Gillette is a member (registered user) of Danville Express
Any confusion regarding the length of the snake is due to an error when I posted the initial story. I thought gauging by the picture of Mr. Conti that it reached well below the bottom of the frame. Mr. Conti corrected me and I corrected the story. Unfortunately, the way our site is designed, that initial paragraph that appears with the story cannot be edited. The snake is 4 ft long, according to Mr. Conti.
Posted by Toni, a resident of the Blackhawk neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2009 at 11:41 am
There is always a polarized argument when it comes to creatures of the wild and people...to dispose of or set free. While the health and safety of human residents is foremost, these residents, if not already, need to be consciously aware and mindful of the terrain and environment that they chose to live. Indeed, you are in chaparral country, not NYC. Therefore, teach and remind your family members and neighbors and visitors of the creatures that live in and amongst your neighborhoods in order to live in as much reasonable harmony as possible with each other and to teach and practice respect for the environment and its natural inhabitants. While this rattler was killed, it also means children, teens and adults should not poach or abuse less dangerous animals such as wild turkeys or deer. I lived in the Livermore hills and have had plenty of experience with rattlers, wild boar, wild turkeys, and tarantulas. I wonder how many residents that live near Mt. Diablo actually know the flora and fauna of that area? Education is key to safety and survival when you live near wildlife. And developing a resource of animal habitat organizations, animal control, etc. would be helpful to contact when necessary rather than killing. Does one kill every creature in sight when hiking, camping, or backpacking?
Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2009 at 3:02 pm
This thread long ago descended into silly season, and I gotta say the most annoying were those who demanded addresses, as if they thought they'd located the Holy Grail of gotcha moments. I dunno about you, or them, but there are lots of folks who post hereabouts whom I don't particularly want to know where I live. We have quite a nest o' vipers on this board.
But I digress.
It did get me to pondering on why we seem to have this innate fear of snakes -- e.g., what if the Contis' "intruder" had been a fox, or a ferret, or a hissin', fussin' feral cat, or a hawk with a wing-down? Would it have evoked the same bloody response? Conversely, what if it had been a 6' crawlin' king snake (no blues reference intended) or a big ol' rat?
I recall long ago/far away reading Carl Sagan's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Dragons of Eden. His thesis was that the brain layers as it evolves, and the innate mammalian fear of reptiles is a genetic endowment left over from a titanic battle to rule the food chain. Independent of the reasons, mammals emerged victorious, at least temporarily, in that evolutionary struggle for dominance. The remnants of that struggle live on in our myths and subconscious fears.
Posted by Ghost of Bambi's mom, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2009 at 1:26 pm
Item from sfgate.com: "Woman defends flower garden, kills baby deer
Many people take their gardening extremely seriously, but Dorothy Richardson seems to have taken her passion for flowers a bit too far.
Rchardson, 76, of the Cleveland suburb of Euclid, has been accused of beating a baby deer to death with a shovel after finding it grazing in her flower garden. She pleaded no contest last Thursday to one misdemeanor count of animal abuse and was found guilty by a municipal court judge who sentenced her to 80 hours of community service and ordered her to pay a $500 fine. Richardson said she became frightened when she saw the fawn in her garden and had only meant to shoo it away with the shovel. Apparently she just didn't know her own strength..."
Comment: If the Supreme Court outlaws gun control later this term, can we at least pass some shovel-control statutes?
Posted by Sue Stockton, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2009 at 6:31 pm
It is disheartening to see how well educated people can be so ignorant about nature. Mr. Conti and Mr. Bob Oxenburgh everything on Earth has value and a purpose and we need to set an example for our kids to respect nature and not destroy it.