WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Homeowners in a Westfield neighborhood are warning dog walkers, bike riders, and anyone who lives nearby to watch where they step after they found three timber rattlesnakes in their yards over the course of one week.
"It was something that was flopping around, so I'm assuming it was maybe there's a bird, it's injured...?" said Tammy Wragg.
Wragg was correct when she said she saw a bird flopping around on her front steps in Westfield a week ago, but what she didn't realize was that bird wasn't alone.
"Then I see the whole picture and it's a snake and it's not a garter," Wragg added.
It was a timber rattlesnake and the bird was its dinner.
"I've never personally seen a rattlesnake. That was my first time," Wragg noted.
However, it wouldn't be the only time. One day later, Wragg explained, "He just happen to have had his head up and I'm like - when he came out - 'Brian, there's another one.' He thought I was joking. No..."
Brian Horton added, "The second one was pretty much in the same spot, closer a little bit closer to the front door."
The couple called a state wildlife-trained biologist to take the timbers from their Susan Drive property.
With the first two snakes removed from their property, they thought they were in the clear, which is why Horton was surprised to see a third snake in plain sight just days later.
"At that point, I backed up and I called our friend, Steve Tilley," Horton noted.
Tilley, a Mass. Wildlife-trained biologist, said, "Very often, when you find one, there'll be another one very close by."
Tilley told Western Mass News the first timber rattler was a female and that the other two were males likely following her scent. He works with three other biologists to remove them from local neighborhoods.
"We'll drop what we're doing to come and get the snake safely," Tilley added.
They are qualified to do so, but for your average homeowner, it's against the law to trap, harm, or kill the timber rattlesnake.
"They're on the Massachusetts endangered species list, yup," Tilley said.
For the Westfield couple, it's a matter of keeping neighbors safe from the snakes.
"Just be careful where you walk, where you step," Wragg explained.
For Tilley, it's making sure the snakes are safe from people who may not realize they're endangered.
"I really want to see this thing survive in its historic habitat. It's one of, I think, it's one of the more fun and important things I've ever done," Tilley said.
In a statement sent to Western Mass News, Mike Jones of Mass Wildlife says:
"Timber rattlesnakes were historically known from rocky areas across much of mainland Massachusetts. Today they are one of the most imperiled vertebrates in the state, and most residents will never see one in the wild. Under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to harm, harass, collect, or handle rattlesnakes. In areas where rattlesnakes still occur, we will work with landowners to move snakes out of harm’s way. Rattlesnakes can live several decades and they know their local landscape very well."
If you ever encounter one of these rattlesnakes, you can contact one of the state-trained biologists:
- Tom Tyning
- Berkshire Community College
- (413) 329-4918
- Anne Stengle
- Holyoke Community College
- (413) 374-0232
- Mike Jones
- Mass Wildlife
- (978) 604-1330
- Stephen Tilley
- Smith College (Retired)
- (413) 627-6359
For more information on timber rattlesnakes in Massachusetts, CLICK HERE.