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Cottonwood Heights experts shocked to find rattlesnake in tree

Posted at 9:31 PM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 23:31:51-04

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — You’ve heard of snake sightings on the trail and in the brush…but what about coming face-to-face with a rattlesnake in a tree?

“It’s the first one I’ve seen. They’re common, but I’ve never seen a rattlesnake in a tree,” said John Saldarriaga, an animal control code enforcement officer with the Cottonwood Heights Police Department.

The homeowners were impressed and thankful Saldarriaga was able to get the snake out and away from their pets.

“It was maybe eight feet high,” he said. “So if you did walk through it, you could’ve got bit.”

Typically, rattlesnakes find shelter in high, rocky terrain along the foothills and trails of the mountains, but because of the current drought, biologists have noticed snakes slithering into neighborhoods looking for water to stay cool.

“If you have overgrown weeds that’s over six inches or more, you’re probably going to see them more, too,” said Saldarriaga.

If you encounter a rattlesnake in the wild or in your yard, be careful – it’s actually illegal to kill a rattlesnake in the state of Utah.

“The only exception is if you’re threatened and you are defending yourself,” said Faith Heaton Jolley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “Otherwise it is a Class B misdemeanor.”

DWR advises you to keep your space, examine how your home landscaping could attract snakes, and call animal control if you need them removed.

“It is quite rare honestly for someone to get bitten by a rattlesnake,” she said. “But when they do, it’s usually because they’re either trying to catch it or kill it. So getting too close, that proximity is really a key factor in this.”