Workers find huge rattlesnake near water treatment plant

8-foot-long reptile unusual for this area, officials say
By: Penne Usher Gold Country News Service
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CAMERON PARK — Running across a rattler in California, let alone the foothills, is not uncommon. However, coming upon a nearly 8-foot-long rattlesnake is highly unusual. El Dorado Irrigation employee Jim Sadler stumbled upon the large reptile at a waste water treatment plant south of Highway 50 in Cameron Park recently. Spokeswoman for EID Deanne Kloepfer said all types of wildlife are found on the compound. “We have deer, raccoons and all sort of creatures in the area,” she said. “There are lots of snakes out there, but I think this is definitely the largest.” Joe Johnson, senior environmental specialist with the Department of Fish and Game, said rattlesnakes are prevalent in California and are usually about 2- to 3-feet long. “I’ve heard of snakes getting that big, but not in California and I have never seen one that large,” Johnson said. What does one do with an 8-foot rattler? “We returned it to the wild,” Kloepfer said. “Not near homes of course. The area is surrounded by wildland and is in the middle of an unpopulated area.” The EID plant is located in a rural area off Cambridge Road, about 10 to 15 miles south of Highway 50 and is not near many homes. That fact didn’t necessarily calm the nerves of some residents. “Are you kidding me,” said Cameron Park resident Mary Burkheis, when told about the behemoth reptile. “A snake that size could eat a child.” The dos and don’ts in snake country: First, know that rattlesnakes are not confined to rural areas. They have been found near urban areas, in river or lakeside parks, and at golf courses. Be aware that startled rattlesnakes may not rattle before striking defensively. There are several safety measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of startling a rattlesnake. • Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. Wear hiking boots. • When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day. • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step on logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use. • Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim. • Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side. • Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency. • Do not handle a freshly killed snake as it can still inject venom. • Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone. Children are naturally curious and will pick up snakes. Source: Department of Fish and Game