Riverside County man recovering from rattlesnake bite to the hand

Taylor Martinez & City News Service

A man who was bitten on the hand when he tried to remove a rattlesnake next to his Temescal Valley house using barbecue tongs remains hospitalized, authorities said Monday.

The snake encounter happened about 5 p.m. Saturday on Elderberry Lane, in the Sycamore Creek community south of Corona, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

Agency spokesman John Welsh said the victim, whose name was not disclosed, spotted the rattler slithering by his property and became concerned it might attract the attention of children as it came into view.

He grabbed a pair of 14-inch barbecue tongs and tried to snare the snake, which immediately struck out, biting the man’s left hand, near his thumb. The snake then coiled and evidently tried to take cover, Welsh said.

Paramedics arrived within a few minutes to tend to the man’s bite wound, which was determined to warrant hospitalization, according to Welsh.

Animal control Officer Mike McGee reached the property not longer after paramedics and spotted the rattler in its makeshift lair.

“There’s always adrenaline,” he said. “Every time, your alerts are always up. You don’t want to get too comfortable.”

McGee deployed a five-foot catch pole and a bucket to grab the serpent, drawing a small crowd of residents, including children, to watch.

“One man had gotten too close with his cell phone, and I had to tell him to move back,” McGee said.

He said the rattler was snared in one attempt, then placed safely in the bucket, where it writhed and flailed.

The Department of Animal Services’ general policy is to catch and release snakes, dropping them at least one mile from where they’re seized. However, the circumstances in this case were different, according to McGee.

“It was highly likely this snake might end up in one of the adjacent homes again,” he said. “I didn’t believe a routine release would be prudent.”

The snake was euthanized.

Welsh said officers have responded to multiple rattlesnake removal calls in recent weeks.

Elevated temperatures and sunny spring weather draw the creatures out of their winter beds every March and April.

Residents are advised to use caution and give rattlers wide space, never attempting to handle them. The snakes can use their full length — sometimes over five feet — to strike. Bites can be deadly.

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