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LAYTON — Rattlesnakes are causing a big scare for several neighborhoods along the Wasatch Front.
Animal Control officers say the number of complaints for the dangerous reptiles is way up this year. According to experts, a number of factors could be the cause, including the heat, wildfires, and even a very wet spring last year. Either way, 2012 is shaping up to be the biggest year for snake activity in northern Utah in a long time.
They may seem harmless inside a cage, but outside the back of your house is a whole different story. Just ask the Hill family.
It kind of sounded like a sprinkler at first. ... I gotta admit, I didn't want to mow the lawn for a while after.
–Heather Hill, Layton resident
"Five rattles, and it kind of sounded like a sprinkler at first. Definitely scary. I gotta admit, I didn't want to mow the lawn for a while after," said Heather Hill, who's father discovered the rattler in the backyard of their home along the foothills of Layton.
Heather's sister Hannah was nearby when their father made the discovery, and they weren't alone. Later that same day, Merrilee Hill received word from a neighbor of another sighting.
"Our next-door neighbor called, and said that she had one on her back porch, and it was about the same size," said Hill.
The Hill family has lived in their Layton foothills home for more than a dozen years, but say that this was their first rattlesnake sighting. According to Davis County animal control, the same thing is happening in many hillside communities.
Animal control officers say last year's wet spring produced more snakes, along with more rodents for the snakes to feed on. Many of the sightings near homes, experts say, are simply creatures looking for water and food. That offers little comfort to homeowners, but the Hill family is glad to know what to look out for.
"We're definitely more careful. The kids look and listen a little bit more," Merrilee Hill said.
Animal control officers say rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive. If you see one, slowly back off, and call them.