In Wichita Falls, Texas, officials are warning residents to stay on the lookout for rattlesnakes, considering the city’s reptile population and increase of rodents.
This warning comes only hours after a Florida man reported that a six-foot-long snake slithered from the hood of his car during rush hour.
Rattlesnakes are usually not aggressive and do not prey on humans, according to the Wichita Falls center officials — they usually will retreat or escape when given the opportunity.
“There are many nonvenomous snakes that are beneficial for the environment and act as predators to the rat infestation our community is having,” the release said.
Wichita Falls animal control employees were called to collect four “large” rattlesnakes in residential areas, according to Katrena Mitchell, the city’s administrator of the animal control department.
“They’re on the move a little bit more,” Mitchell said. “Be careful where you’re stepping and where you’re walking. Rattlesnakes don’t always rattle.”
Several pets have also been recently attacked by the snakes, with at least one dying. Unfortunately, the driving factor of recent rattlesnake encounters is due the the increase of their favorite food — rodents.
The city’s health department told the Times Record News on Tuesday that rat and mice populations have likely swelled due to abundant rainfall and crop yields.
“There’s no reason for them to not reproduce right now,” said Susan Morris, general environmental administration of the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District. “I’ve noticed that when I’m driving on the highway I see them crossing the roads. My assumption would be that they have a lot of food and they have a lot of water.”
Approximately 8,000 people are bitten by rattlesnakes each year in the U.S. with 10 to 15 deaths occurring, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.