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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."

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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