Rattlesnakes are on the move, experts warn

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Watch where you step. It's snakebite season here in Florida. It's also the time of year when trappers get an uptick in calls about snake sightings.

While snakes are here year round, it's the period between April and October when they're especially active and looking for places to hide, possibly in your yard. The good news is, only six of Florida's 44 species of snakes are venomous. But you'll still want to be cautious.

"Our call volume starts to go up with a lot of snake calls, whether it's venomous or non-venomous," said Samuel French of A-Team Trappers.

Those scaly serpents are slithering out of hibernation. This month, there have been several rattlesnake sightings in Polk County. Two of the sightings were by crews fighting wildfires, which can bring them out.
If you get too close, you could wake up in a hospital bed, like Jerome Roddenberry. April 9, Roddenberry made the mistake of picking up a five-and-a-half-foot rattlesnake at the River Ranch hunting grounds after someone shot it and he thought it was dead.

"He actually turned to my hand and bit me," said Roddenberry. "About 10 steps later, 30 seconds, I was done. That's all I remember except waking up in the hospital."

Monday, he got the chance to thank first responders who helped save his life.

"If it wasn't for them, I probably wouldn't be here talking today," Roddenberry said. "First responders are important. Everyone who saved my life, everyone who kept me going 'til I got to the hospital, I just want to thank them very much."

Rattlesnakes don't always make a sound. But, if you hear the telltale rattle, take notice.

"Usually, when they start using their rattle, they're trying to warn you," said French. "Wherever you're at, just step away. Step back."

Rattlesnakes and others could be hiding just about anywhere in your yard. There are certain areas where you'll want to be extra careful.

"They have to find stuff to generate body heat," French said. "So, they start moving to those flower beds, if you have fresh mulch, the leaves in your yard if they're not raked up. Pool pumps. Those kinds of enclosures. Those terra cotta pots, they curl up and get in there. If you have stuff lying around, make sure it's picked up."

There's no need to get rattled or hide indoors. Just watch where you step.

"Venomous snakes do have more of a triangle-shaped head. I'm not saying get close enough to find out. If you don't know, step back and call a trapper," French added.