RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. — A California man is recovering after being bitten by a rattlesnake he attempted to pick up with barbecue tongs, animal control officials said.
The unidentified man was reportedly bitten near the thumb on his left hand while attempting the utensil maneuver to protect children in the area, Riverside County Department of Animal Services spokesman John Welsh told KCAL.
Riverside County firefighters responded to the man’s home just south of Corona at about 5:15 p.m. Saturday and treated him at the scene before transporting him to an area hospital, KTLA reported.
Animal control officer Mike McGee, who has responded to at least four rattlesnake calls in the past few weeks, used 5-foot tongs and a humane storage bucket to capture the reptile, located in nearby bushes. He determined quickly that it would be unsafe to release the venomous rattler near the community and euthanized it, KCAL reported.
“We try to release rattlesnakes within one mile of where we remove it from, but it was highly likely this snake might end up in one of the adjacent homes again,” McGee said in a statement.
Animal Services Cmdr. Chris Mayer explained in the statement why cooking utensils should never be used when dealing with dangerous reptiles.
“A coiled rattlesnake can strike the length of its body, and the bites are painful and, in some rare cases, fatal,” Mayer stated.
Welsh told KCAL that the victim, who was released from the hospital late Monday, had been around snakes most of his life and felt comfortable attempting to catch the rattler. The man joked in a text message to Welsh, however, that the 14-inch tongs were “not long enough!”
According to animal control officials, people who spot a rattler are advised to stay at least 10 feet away from any snake they encounter, and pet owners are advised to always keep dogs on a leash that is six feet or shorter to prevent them from wandering, KTLA reported.
Click here to learn more about rattlesnake-proofing homes and yards from the agency’s website.