Rochester ‘Rattlesnake’ sighting turns out to be completely harmless


ROCHESTER – What would you do if you saw a four foot snake coiled up in your garden shed? What if he started wagging the tip of his tail like a rattlesnake?

Rochester animal control officer Anne Estabrook said a townsman called police on Tuesday afternoon to report a rattlesnake in his shed – but it turned out to be Rather, it was a harmless snake playing mime.

Rare and endangered timber rattlesnakes live in very small areas of Massachusetts, according to Estabrook, but people on the SouthCoast are much more likely to encounter the eastern milk snake, which is the cause of the confusion on Tuesday.

This is the latest in a string of snake sightings across the South Coast.

An Eastern Milksnake spotted in Fairhaven.

Kate Robinson/Townsquare Media

In late May, Fairhaven Police and Animal Control treated another large eastern milk snake behind a nail salon in the northern part of town.

And one of the big snakes was also spotted on the Fairhaven bike path the first week of June:

Eastern Milksnakes can be up to four feet long and have distinctive brown or red “saddles” or colored spots along their backs – similar in appearance to rattlesnakes.

Estabrook said they can also act like their venomous counterparts in self-defense, coiling up and flicking the tip of their tails if they feel threatened.

But non-venomous milk snakes look a bit different; their heads blend smoothly into their bodies, rather than the larger head characteristic of vipers.

They also lack the “cat’s eyes” or elliptical pupils of poisonous vipers such as rattlesnakes and copperheads.

“Even if that has been a rattlesnake,” Estabrook noted, “they’re endangered – so you’re not allowed to interfere with them.”

Plus, she added, there’s “almost none left.”

“It’s a sad situation, because they’re good to have around,” she said.

Snakes – even potentially deadly ones – are excellent at eliminating vermin like mice and rats.

But in all likelihood, the “dangerous noodle” in your garden is just an oriental milk snake.

Although they might try to bite if threatened, Estabrook said they wouldn’t do much harm.

“Don’t try to pick it up or try to do anything stupid,” she laughed.

Instead, she said, anyone who finds a large snake somewhere they don’t want should just pick up a broom and gently lead it back into the wild.

Here is a list of all the snakes native to Massachusetts (Two can kill you)

Did you know that there is a species of rattlesnake in the Bay State? Or that two of our local poisonous snakes can be deadly to humans – but despite what your parents told you, the water moccasin isn’t one of them? (They don’t even live in Massachusetts.) Love them or hate them, these slippery little suckers are everywhere. Here are which snakes you are most likely to find in your garden.

Massachusetts Wildlife You Can Legally Bring Home as a Pet

Massachusetts has such diverse wildlife, but also strict limitations on what you can bring home and cuddle. In fact, there are only certain reptiles and amphibians you can keep as pets (so no raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, etc.) and you’re only allowed two of each . The state also says “you cannot sell, barter, or trade them.” Also, keep in mind that these are wild animals, so it’s probably best to leave them alone and maybe visit a reptile store instead to get your next pet.

Comments are closed.