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Rattlesnake Sightings Put West Murrieta on Alert

A rash of rattlesnake sightings near Thompson Middle and Murrieta Valley High schools prompted city officials to notify parents Friday.

An infestation of rattlesnakes spotted near the city's western boundary has prompted officials to alert area families.

Sykes Ranch Park on Hayes Avenue is closed until further notice while the Murrieta Community Services Department continues to clear shrubbery that can be ideal for the varmints, Assistant City Manager Jim Holston confirmed Friday.

"Snakes weren’t found in the park, but near there along Murrieta Creek we have found four in the last week," Holston said. "A couple have been reported up on the street but I haven’t personally seen them."

Holston notified the nearby campuses of Murrieta Valley High School and Thompson Middle School, asking parents and students to take precautions.

"The city has been clearing brush in the channel that starts at Sykes Ranch Park (across from Thompson MS) to the Murrieta Creek. They have encountered quite a few rattlesnakes and they have placed snake repellents in the area," Holston said in the notice.

"However, the repellents will take a few days to work. Students should be aware of the possibility of snakes in that area and they should avoid use of the short cut through the fields on the way to school or home and also avoid playing or hanging out in the brush areas."

Resident Lisa Daniels, who lives near Murrieta Valley High School, said she has seen several rattlesnakes in her yard, some of which have bitten her dogs.

"In my driveway, I have almost stepped on one a foot away," Daniels said. "We have had at least two rounds of bites (to our dogs)."

Daniels said she has made repeated calls concerning the snakes to Murrieta City Hall as well as the Murrieta Fire Department, which comes to homes to retrieve snakes and relocate them.

A combination of things may be bringing the snakes out, city officials said, including recent unseasonably warm weather.

Murrieta Mayor Pro Tem Rick Gibbs told Patch he often hikes in the Murrieta Creek area and said it is not uncommon to see rattlesnakes west of the creek.

"I see them every day," Gibbs said. "...Right now for whatever reason, there seems to be an increase in rattlesnakes a little closer to populated areas."

His thought was recent rains flooded the creek and brought the snakes to the east. There is also water district construction going on, which can cause the ground to vibrate and force snakes to migrate, he said.

Gibbs said the city notified the school district, but he also wanted to stress that residents—west of Washington Avenue from Kalmia Street to Calle Del Oso Oro—should take caution, especially if they have pets or small children. It would not be uncommon for the snakes to make their way into nearby backyards, he said.

If residents see snakes, he said they should bring their pets and children inside and call the Murrieta Fire Department.

Holston said while he doesn't think there is an epidemic, the community should be aware.

"We wanted to err on the side of caution," Holston said. "We won’t let this go until we have taken all the precautions."

The park is expected to be closed for maintenance until at least the end of next week, Holston said.

"Over there we are up against a huge open space. We have the Plateau and then Camp Pendleton and then the Cleveland National Forest. So there is plenty of habitat."

The Republican October 20, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Don't freak out. Leave them alone and they will leave you alone
JustForFun October 20, 2012 at 06:01 AM
Why would you post a picture of some heartless person cutting the head off of a snake? Also, the picture of the snake on the asphalt is not rattle snake. That is a garter snake. I wish people weren't so ignorant. There is no reason to kill a snake. Like The Republican said, leave them alone, and they will leave you alone. It is a shame that you guys would allow pictures like this to be posted on your site. I am very disappointed.
JustForFun October 20, 2012 at 06:03 AM
By the way, after saving the picture of the beheaded snake and zooming in on it, I am almost certain that it is also a garter snake. Almost positive that it was not a rattle snake. This is animal cruelty. Sick bastards.
Tom Courbat October 20, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Just steer clear of them. Our next door neighbor's son was bitten by one a few years back. He thought it was dead (maybe playing possum) and it snapped at him and bit him. He had to be air-evaced to Loma Linda and treated by that venom specialist who appears on a number of nature shows - forget his name just now. So, even if they look dead, DON'T go near them. Report them immediately to the city.
AFR October 20, 2012 at 06:36 AM
Our Murrieta Fire Dept. comes out and takes these snakes away, even the rattlesnakes and they don't harm them. I've found that the fire dept. usually takes care of all the jobs that other depts don't have time for, (animal control), won't do, can't do, or jobs no one knows who to send to. And just FYI, that head-less snake is NOT a rattlesnake. Some idiot just beheaded a snake that would of helped keep the rodent population down.
Tom Courbat October 20, 2012 at 08:03 AM
I don't know much about snakes, but if you go to http://www.californiaherps.com/snakes/snakespics.html there is a collection of photos of snakes known to be present in CA.
Jenna October 20, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Whats a snake repellent and wouldn't it just send the snakes down a few blocks? Is it something we can buy to put in our yards around plants, etc.
Tim Brown October 20, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Just a quick F.Y.I for the photographer, 2 of your 3 pictures are not rattlesnakes. The picture with the shovel and head cut off is a Gopher Snake and great for the area. I do believe the rattlers can do damage, especially to pets and children, I would kill one if presented to me. But never kill the Gopher snakes, Gardner Snakes, and/or King Snakes. I live on the east side and with the recent warm weather, I believe a new batch of babies have shown up, I have found 5 little guys in recent weeks.
Katie Rucker October 20, 2012 at 05:07 PM
They are Diamond Back Rattlesnakes (not so sure about that last pic though, it's too dark), and protecting yourself and others, especially small kids, is not animal cruelty. A child could easily die from a rattlesnake bite, especially from a young one like that because they cannot control how much poison they inject yet. Better to kill them when you see them, rather than have them multiply. But I grew up on a piece of property with farm animals, not in the city, so I saw a lot more of them, and I was almost bit just walking out of my front door one year. It had curled up on our welcome mat and I didn't see it until it struck at me. And my uncle almost died one year when he was working in his yard and he got bit. Sorry, I just don't see what's inhumane about killing them with they're in the vicinity of people, especially children. (Of course, if it's a garter snake, or a red racer, or any other non-poisonous snake, we just pick them up and move them. I'm only talking about rattlesnakes, of which I am easily able to tell the difference.)
Katie Rucker October 20, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Yes you are right about that being a garter snake, and for the record, in the photo he is alive. But like I said to someone below, I grew up in a farm setting in, what is now, Murrieta city limits, where I had to protect my animals, and myself. I wasn't even a teenager yet and I was killing rattlesnakes on our property with a shovel. You can't exactly "leave a rattlesnake alone" when it has curled up on your welcome mat where you don't see it, walk right over it and it strikes at you, almost biting you. No thanks. I don't feel like dying, so I will continue to take care of the problem as I see fit. But for your information, I know the difference between the different kinds of snakes in our area, and the only kind I've ever killed has been rattlesnakes. The rest are very helpful snakes that I definitely want around.
sandalina October 20, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Sporting goods stores sell snakebite kits...which can buy you some time while you are waiting for medical attention.
Katie Rucker October 20, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Not getting bit is much cheaper than thousands of dollars in medical bills. Each vial of antivenom is $3500, and it usually takes multiple vials, plus several days to months in the hospital, and any possible rehab (now add up that cost). Although, if it's a young child that's bit, they could die. And this article says, "Doctors say the kits are, for the most part, based on outmoded ideas." http://tinyurl.com/snakebitekit
The Republican October 20, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I have killed and made a meal out of many rattlesnakes, Yes Steve they are very good. It is fun to creep people out by killing, gutting and cooking them while they still move.
Kristina October 22, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I live in the houses behind the driving range and my son found a dead one on the sidewalk by the park on Calle Estancia.
oralia October 22, 2012 at 09:55 PM
lad is no very smart for showing photos of not ratlesnakes with no head. gofer snakes eat mice in the yards nd lad person is very bad to kill good snakes nd stupid for not nowing the diference
Laura October 23, 2012 at 11:27 PM
I was there two weeks ago with my son and saw a baby diamond back on the concrete path at the park, and another one on the dirt path in the rural area. And just the other day, there was another Diamond back rattler on the dirt path. They were all babies, but they say, those are the most deadliest. Another thing we have seen lots (more than two), are Tralanchula spiders.
Laura October 23, 2012 at 11:29 PM
We have seen a few rattlers in the park behind the Thompson Middle School, I think this is the same park.
Melissa October 24, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I live on the street along the park and preserve. The story is not accurate. We have had 35 snakes caught by the residents on this street, all baby rattlers. The residents know the difference. I don't know why the photos are of garter snakes. The rattlers have gone after our gardeners, kids and pets. We had one teenager on our street bitten by a baby rattler in her driveway. Thank God she survived. They cook up at our front door, back door, walkways, driveways, bushes and trash cans. They blend in making them hard to detect until you are about to step on them and they lurch at you. Leaving them alone will cause more people to be hurt or killed. We must protect our families. Nobody wants to find a rattle snake inside their home either. We appreciate the efforts of the city in removing the brush where they are nesting a foot away from our open back fences.
Laura October 24, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I agree with you Melissa, it is scary having those suckers coming into your yard. I just moved here, does this kind of thing happen often, or is this a fluke thing?
Sally Rista Anderson February 17, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Very sorry button Wednesday I came up from feeding my horses a baby rattler was right in front of my door my one dog is blind the other accidentally steped on it, I have in the past tried to relocate them they come back, Nit his fault, but after thousands of dollars and dogs being bitten, I will kill a rattler who has taken residents in or near my home,,My family is more important,If I can I relocate them but this was a situation of life and or death..
Sally Rista Anderson February 18, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Sorry, I hate to kill anything, But we have tried calling Fire dept., animal control . They don't respond, we live on a ranch on the SRP, We once were told they had an opening a week from Thursday , lol. I always carry a shovel when feeding my horses and walk on eggs when working, I wear big boots, gloves. Unfortunately if they are near or in our home, I will kill them, they also hide in the pool filter, I check that often, We don't get the same response from fire dept. or animal control out here, I have put out fires myself along with the neighbors reported the fire while the forestry sat and watched,,they were on lunch break..and they did not respond for hrs, I have had dogs bitten I was struck also, It's survival, no time to waist for one deadly snake, But I do feel bad as it's not their fault..
Sally Rista Anderson February 18, 2013 at 07:08 PM
There are so many rattle snakes that you walk by and never see, it's not a fluke, it just humans and nature in cohabitation . We disrupt their homes by building and clearing , they disrupt ours, My very good friend is from Australia, Do you know how many deadly snakes there are there? Her Dad came to Visit from Australia, Lived his whole life not getting bitten by many deadly snakes and bugs, frogs, blue box stingers, the first week here he was bit by a rattler while pruning roses, One must keep on their toes, don't reach into holes, walk with a shovel or stick make some noise on a hiking trails, I have developed a sixth sense, I can't tell you how many times I have gone to grab a garden hose or walked out on to my door Matt ,,but look first only to see exactly what I expect to see, A rattler..

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