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Monday's heat leads to busy day for snake removals

Russ Johnson, president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society, says he's aware of two rattlesnake bites in the past two weeks.

PHOENIX — Arizonans and tourists aren't the only ones enjoying the recent warm weather. Snakes are too.

A close call with a snake became a reality for several in the Valley on Monday.

The Scottsdale Fire Department responded to five snake removals on Monday. They've had 156 snake removals so far this year, up from 120 in the same period last year.

Russ Johnson, president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society, had six calls Monday.

“Everything’s temperature-driven so until it gets cold and you’re wearing a jacket, you need to be aware that they could be out," Johnson said.

Johnson also assists doctors with identifying snake bites and said there have been at least two rattlesnake bites in the past two weeks.

“What happens is people go off the trails walk through the bushes, snakes have no ears, they can’t hear you coming," Johnson said. "You step on the bush and before he rattles he strikes you.”

That worst-case scenario is rare, especially if you keep your distance.

“When they raise up like that, right now the position he’s in he could strike about six inches. Right now if he struck he couldn’t even hit my tongs," Johnson explained.

Johnson said there are steps residents can take to try and prevent snakes from entering their homes. It starts with keeping your doors closed because like many who live in the desert, oftentimes they are just looking for a place to cool down.

“You can get your gates, make sure they’re flush and put pavers underneath," Johnson said. "Don’t feed your pets outside because the food attracts mice and mice are their main diet.”

If you have a snake in your home or yard, call the fire department or a snake removal company. Johnson said you can always send him a photo if you are unsure if the snake is venomous.

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