Learning to Love Your Neighbors

A few years back, a couple in our town called us about a Black-tailed Rattlesnake that had settled in beside their house. Les and Mary Ann wanted us to move her somewhere everyone would be comfortable with. This well-mannered snake presented a perfect opportunity for them to see what snakes really do: she was there to hunt small mammals, and would soon be heading uphill for the winter. Nora, as she was now called, took a ride in a bucket to a pile of rocks a few dozen yards away – close enough for Nora to know right where she was, but far enough that she has not been seen again.

This fall, another Black-tailed Rattlesnake showed up at their house – inside the garage! Mary Ann sprang into action and gently ushered him outside with a broom, even pausing to get a photo. She attributed her confidence to what she had learned about her snake neighbors, especially how they care for their kids and babysit. Snakes are just like any other animal, not nefarious monsters.

A Black-tailed Rattlesnake (yellow rattlesnake with dark brown blotches) coiled at the base of a chain link gate
Nora, female Black-tailed Rattlesnake, rests near the front door. Photo courtesy of Les Brandt.

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