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Snake handlers help remove rattlesnakes near homes in Golden Gate Estates

Rattlesnakes have been taking over a neighborhood in Southwest Florida. We learned why they were inching closer to homes and how people can protect themselves.

Two snake handlers relocated eight rattlesnake that got too close for comfort in Golden Gate Estates recently to help reduce an increase in the snakes near homes.

“It went into our laundry room, and we had to kill it,” Anya Merovile said.

“I see snakes pretty regularly out there,” Chris Comer said.

People in Golden Gate Estates have had their fair share of snake encounters.

“I don’t touch snakes,” Camille Bellane said.

Bellane and many others were not so happy about the venomous snakes near their homes.

Our crew saw a rattlesnake crossing the road on Randall Boulevard.

“They are dropping babies and then going to go look for their mates,” said Taylor McDowell, a professional snake handler.

“Every year, there is less and fewer habitats, not more rattlesnakes, just fewer places for it to go,” said Rhett Stanberry, a professional snake handler. “So people are coming in contact with the remaining population.”

McDowell and Stanberry are professional snake handlers. They say they’ve caught many rattlesnakes because of the time of year and where Golden Gate Estates is located.

“Out here in the estates, people will leave areas that they can take a break-in,” Stanberry said.

“If you have fallen debris or trash or something around, they can hide,” McDowell said. “They will stick around for a day or so trying to hide.”

Recently, the snake handlers took a pregnant rattlesnake from someone’s yard, keeping a dozen baby snakes from people’s homes.

After the mother had babies, they released and relocated all 13 of them safe and sound.

Homeowners are thankful for the professionals in town.

“I’m all about not killing animals,” Comer said. “If someone is taking them to a place where they are not in danger to people, that’s a beautiful thing.”

The handlers told us, if you come across a rattlesnake at home, the best thing you can do is go back inside and leave it alone. If it stays around longer than a day, that’s when they will come and remove it.

“That’s all we’re here to do help people realize they are not monsters like everyone thinks they are,” McDowell said.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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