Snake season strikes again

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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When Rocklin resident Jeff Grunden was bitten by a rattlesnake he said it felt like he was hit in the hip by a shotgun blast. “It was brutal, it was a lot of pain and it just gets worse,” Grunden said. “The pain traveled down my leg and I started sweating.” Grunden had to hike three miles to get help. The treatment for the anti-venom was about $12,000. “It took me eight or nine months to recover,” Grunden said. Grunden has a nasty scar and black line down his leg as a reminder. While that bite was on a trip, coming home to the neighborhood around Rocklin’s Mansion Oaks Park isn’t any better. He’s caught about 10 rattlesnakes around his house on the edge of the green zone. “We have waves of rattlesnakes,” Grunden said. “One of them was on the door step. My daughter opens the door and it was sitting right there – rattling.” His third-grader knew enough to shut the door. Grunden, who use to be a designer and architect for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, invested in a professional snake grabber, but admits that everyday pool skimmers work the best. “The garage door was open and my wife went to go get luggage out of the car and she kept hearing a hissing sound. It was a 6-foot rattlesnake by her bare feet in the garage,” Grunden said. “We had a fun afternoon broom-hockeying it out of the garage.” Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes make their home in the neighborhood and come out every year when the weather warms up. Neighbors contend at least two children have been bitten by snakes in the last seven years. In the last 12 months, statewide poison control helped 368 callers with snake bite problems, according to Stuart Heard, executive director of the California Poison Control System. Most victims are between 20-29 years of age and 82 percent are male. Only 12 percent are children under 20. “Not everyone who gets a snake bite needs anti-venom,” Heard said. “But many do. It is very toxic, but it depends on how much is injected.” Grunden said the baby rattlers are the worst because they look like harmless garter snakes that are also in the neighborhood. Grunden sees kids running through the high grass around the park and hopes they’ll be smart or at least lucky. “We’ve told all the kids up and down the block,” Grunden said. “But there are a lot of people moving here from the Bay Area that are new to this and they don’t know.” Prevention is worth a pound of cure. “If you see them, stay clear. Don’t go reaching for them,” Heard said. “Have boots and things to cover your legs. You have to be on the look out.” Rocklin Animal Control will only come out if the snake is a threat and by policy will not kill the snakes but rather relocate them. If you’re bit, head to the emergency room within an hour, Heard said. Poison control can direct callers to a hospital that has anti-venom in stock. Grunden hopes the exploding turkey population will eat the baby snakes, but that could cause an explosion in the vole population. He’s waiting to see what will happen in the next few months. “Every year it’s a little bit less, but we’ll see how it goes this year,” Grunden said. --------- Snake Season • 368 Snake bites in California last year • 82 percent of victims were male, most 20-29 years old • 12 percent children under age 20 Call Poison Control: (800) 222-1222