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Wildfires pushing rattlesnakes into residential areas

Wildfires pushing rattlesnakes into residential areas


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SALT LAKE CITY — Some Ogden homeowners say they're seeing a major increase in rattlesnakes thanks to the very active fire season.

Bernadette Talon is owner of a calm Pomeranian named Little Dog. The dog was bit by a rattlesnake after a small fire broke out on a hill near her Ogden home, and she says in the weeks since the fire, she has seen about a dozen of the snakes.

Talon was walking Little Dog on a trail behind her home, when a snake pit the dog.

"So when she came around, it just lunged and bit her," Talon said. "She actually, like, came off all fours, yelped, and ran up the hill."

The dog collapsed and Talon got her to an animal hospital to get the serum that saved the dog's life. Talon says the serum cost about $1,000.

Experts say like any other animal, rattlesnakes may look for new homes if a fire takes theirs.

"If their entire habitat's been destroyed, there's a possibility they can go into residential areas," Reptile Keeper Emily Merola said. "May hang out for a while, especially in cooler places, especially with the heat as it is."

A dog lover, Talon says this experience hasn't been easy. She's now getting all her dogs vaccinated for the venom, which costs about $25 a shot. She says if she hadn't found Little Dog quickly, she may not have survived.

"Her being the littlest, was probably the worst one that could have got it," Talon said. "I would have been the best one to get it. I would have much preferred that, actually."

Until she starts seeing fewer snakes, she says these dogs won't likely hit the trail.

The Division of Wildlife Services in Salt Lake said that snakes can be pushed out by fire, but said to stay calm, as they usually find a new burrow quickly.

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Mike Anderson

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