“I think this is a baby rattlesnake. We found it in our kitchen. Help!”
We get this email a lot, and calls even more. People throughout the Phoenix and Scottsdale area find small, patterned snakes with vertical pupils and triangular heads inside homes, and it’s almost always one species: the desert nightsnake.
I am not sure why this snake finds its way into homes more than others that seem much more likely to get inside, but they are. We have caught nightsnakes on bathroom counters, sinks, bathtubs, closets, and anywhere that pipes or other access can let a small snake in.
Rattlesnakes themselves very rarely are found inside homes. We do get a few a year, but the situation is usually the same: a door was left open for a few hours in the spring or fall. Rattlesnakes tend not to be as adaptable as other species, and would rather stay out in the yard than crawl around the carpet and underfoot of a busy household. Almost all of the rattlesnakes removed from indoor situations were in vacant or newly purchased homes where a door had been left open for a period of time. Night snakes, on the other hand, don’t seem to care! If there are spiders nearby, they want in.
To the inexperienced, they can certainly look like a small rattlesnake. Especially to those who have never seen a real rattlesnake before, or believe the falsehood that baby rattlesnakes have no rattle, the impression can be pretty good. When they are threatened, a nightsnake will coil tightly and flatten the head, looking even more like a rattler.
In all of the what must be hundreds of nightsnakes I have seen in homes and in the wild, not one has ever tried to bite. While technically, the nightsnake is slightly venomous, it could not possibly cause harm to any person, baby, dog, or cat. The toxin is suited for invertebrates like spiders and scorpions, which actually could pose some harm. This means that the best thing you can do if you see one in the pool or bathroom would be to scoop it up and put it outside, where it can continue to keep the bark scorpion and black widow population down.
If you need a snake to be removed in the Scottsdale or Phoenix area, or just have any questions, call us any time at 480-237-9975.
Here are some photos sent in just yesterday by someone who found one in a child’s room.
For comparison, this is what a baby rattlesnake looks like:
… a few more nightsnakes:
… and a few more baby rattlesnakes. See the difference?
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