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Beware Of Rattlesnakes In The Sierra Foothills

RATTLESNAKE (CBS13) — While most people will be looking up at the sky this Fourth of July Holiday, firefighters in the Sierra Foothills are asking people to look down toward the ground in case of rattlesnakes.

Crews in Calaveras County have responded to 12 rattlesnake removal calls in just one month.

On Monday, firefighters responded not once, but twice to a Burger King in Valley Springs for reports of rattlers rattling customers as they walked through the front door.

"We've had a bat before, but never this many reports of rattlesnakes," said general manager Joey Ritchie.

Crews were able to remove the reptiles before anyone was hurt.

In nearby Wallace, others weren't so lucky. Firefighters said another snake was spotted at a playground and a man was bitten Saturday, requiring a ride to the hospital.

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"The gentleman was outside picking up bags of concrete I believe, didn't see the snake and was bitten on his hand," said Dustin Galliazzo with Calaveras Consolidated Fire. "By the time he saw it, it was too late. He was transported to our local healthcare facility."

Luckily, Mark Twain Medical Center has one of the largest stockpiles of anti-venom in Northern California because officials say they're seeing a spike in snakes.

"The weather, the heat, and we had a really good winter. I personally believe that's playing a role in it," Galliazzo said.

Experts say a dip in snake sightings last year prompted rodent populations to grow out of control, and rattlesnakes to rebound as they emerged from hibernation — all at the same time.

"If you see a snake, don't mess with it. Regardless of if it appears dead or injured. Leave it be," Galliazzo said.

Firefighters are now warning people to be aware of their surroundings and to call 911 if they see a snake. Additionally, firefighters say they have special training and tools to handle rattlesnakes, so it's best to leave snake removal to the pros.

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