A Seattle Animal enforcement officer confined and removed a Western rattlesnake in north Seattle on Saturday, June 22nd.

Someone spotted the two-foot snake sunning itself on a rock wall and called animal control.

Western rattlesnakes are venomous snakes native to Eastern Washington, classified as an exotic animal by Seattle municipal code, and illegal within city limits.

This is a perfect example of why people should take extra precaution when approaching any snake, said Seattle Animal Shelter Director Don Jordan. You just never know what species may be encountered in Western Washington. Parents really need to instill this message with their children.

It is unknown how the rattlesnake ended up in Seattle, but the Seattle Animal Shelter said it is unlikely the animal would have survived our moist, cool climate.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife worked with the shelter to transport the snake to its natural habitat in Eastern Washington yesterday.

The Seattle Animal Shelter recommends these precautions to minimize conflicts in areas prone to rattlesnakes:

  • Stick to well-used, open trails. In brushy areas, use a walking stick to alert a snake of your approach.
  • Avoid walking through thick brush and willow thickets.
  • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see.
  • Wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants.
  • Watch rattlesnakes from a distance, and be aware of defensive behaviors, such as coiling and tail-rattling, that let you know you are too close.

The shelter advises if you encounter a rattlesnake, move away from it slowly a rattlesnake will coil into a defensive posture if it cannot escape. If you remain too close, the rattlesnake will usually warn you with its distinctive rattle. Its last defensive move is to strike.

Remember, all of these warnings are meant to help avoid conflict as rattlesnakes want to avoid you as much as you want to avoid them.

The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage Living with Wildlife offers more information on rattlesnakes and other wildlife.

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