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There's a Rattlesnake in the Garage! What to do.

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As temperatures in the Phoenix area drop off over the fall, rattlesnakes (and other species of snakes) will be moving to winter hiding spots. People also enjoy these mild temperatures after several months of solar brutality, so garage doors are left open, clean-out projects begin, and holiday decorations are dusted off once again (hopefully AFTER Thanksgiving!). The result of all of this activity can be a rattlesnake in the garage. It's an incredibly common part of life in Arizona, and something Rattlesnake Solutions snake relocators deal with daily. Here's what you can do if you find yourself in this situation, and more importantly, how you can prevent future rattlesnake visits.

The first thing: have the snake professionally and safely removed by a snake relocation expert

Just because it looks like it's sleeping does not mean that your husband should put on gardening gloves and try out those Crocodile Hunter moves he's been working on for the last 20 years. Rattlesnakes, while defensive and passive in nature, will try to prevent their own death and will use every tool in the arsenal to do that — this means do not attempt to capture or kill the snake unless you are trained to do so. Instead, do this:

Rattlesnake in the Garage

  1. Do not disturb the snake. If it is already disturbed (rattling) move away immediately and keep an eye on it. Especially in a cluttered garage, it will be important to locate the snake when a relocator arrives. Keep all curious family members, pets, and "helpful" shovel-wielding neighbors away from the area.
  2. Call us at 480-237-9975 in the Phoenix area or 520-308-6211 in Tucson. You will be asked a few questions (including your general location), and someone will be dispatched immediately.
  3. Watch the snake until help arrives. If the snake disappears from view, just watch the last known location. You should be at a safe distance. Sometimes, a snake that is in a defensive position is only still there because it believes that the predator (you) is waiting for a chance to attack, and the moment there's a chance to escape, they will take it.
  4. Keep your phone on or have someone that can answer the door for you to let the snake relocator access the area. This one is simple, but we've had a lot of excited home owners forget to let us in ;)

That's all that you have to do. After that, it's on us.

Releasing snakes in the Winter can be tricky. The snake is there for a reason, and that's usually because conditions outside are unfavorable to survival. Even in warmer months when snakes can also use garages as a refuge, releasing a snake in way that will ensure that the snake will survive can be very difficult. Our relocators are experienced field herpers (wild snake nerds) that care greatly for the animals and will use our vast collective experience and research to give them the best chance possible to survive.

So, how do you keep this from happening again, and why was it there to begin with?

To a rattlesnake, an open garage door is just a cave.. If you provide easy access, like leaving the door open all night or during the cooler daytime hours of Fall, animals will take advantage of the free housing opportunities. Even if you've created snake heaven in your garage, the most simple and effective way to keep them out is to keep the garage door closed unless there's a reason for it to be open.

Another way to keep rattlesnakes out of the garage is to make the garage less attractive to them. If there is lots of clutter or even a little bit of rodent activity, your garage is prime habitat for desert animals. In general, the cleaner your garage is and the fewer opportunities to hide, the less likely you are to have a rattlesnake move in. In a very similar way, the fewer rodents that show up in your garage, the fewer snakes will show up to eat them. Watch corners for rodent droppings, and if you see any, you may need to have an exterminator consultation. Regardless, even with these issues, keeping a well-sealed door closed will keep rattlesnakes out.

Lastly, be very careful when accessing stored items that have not been touched for awhile.

Holiday decorations, in particular, are a major reason for people to discover they've been sharing the garage with a rattlesnake (or a few). As you try and remember which box contains your prized giant inflatable yard turkey, remember the basics of living near rattlesnakes: don't reach where you can't see, and always be ready to take a quick step in the opposite direction if need be.

Every year we relocate over 200 rattlesnakes from Arizona garages, often in the winter. To close, here's a favorite from 2010, with 5 Western Diamondbacks that decided to spend the Winter in a Scottsdale garage. We were able to capture and relocate all of them without any issues.

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