Snake sightings outside North Austin building rattle employees

Rattlesnakes living in new state office building

AUSTIN - Employees at the Texas Civil Commitment Office off West Howard Lane watch where they step these days.

Marsha McLane spotted a rattlesnake the first day they moved into their new office Oct. 1.

"It was curled up right here. Right in front of this bush," McLane showed us.

Jessica March saw the second snake last week.

"It slithered off into the bushes," said Marsh. 

Marsh and her co-workers originally thought the second snake was also a rattlesnake. But according to snake expert, Tim Cole, it's a rat snake.

He met KVUE's Jenni Lee at the office where she showed him pictures of both snakes. He said mistaking a rat snake for a rattlesnake is one of the most common mistakes people make because rat snakes' tails also rattle. The big difference is that rat snakes are not venomous like rattlesnakes.

Snake handlers captured the rattlesnake, which McLane wished to destroy.  

"I want them dead," McLane said.

Instead, the rattlesnake was relocated. But the rat snake is still on the loose.

"Location TBD. He is here somewhere," said Marsh.

"So these guys are right here by our door and we're in and out of this door several times a day. It's awful scary for staff," said McLane.

Monday morning, workers installed a rubber seal and metal frame to the bottom of this door to prevent any snakes from entering.

Cole said the rattlesnake was young and that's why it ended up at the office. Young snakes don't know where to avoid yet.

He also said this is one of the seasons for increased snake sightings because it's cooler out and they're looking for food before winter. Snakes also come out in the Spring.

Cole said if you come across a rattlesnake, remain calm and walk away. If you're at home, call a snake expert to remove it.

"If you're at home and you live out in the country, a rattlesnake shows up in the backyard, grab a garden hose, spray it. It doesn't take much for them to realize, 'Hey there's people here. This is not where I want to be,'" explained Cole.

He said in the past 16 years in Texas, only two people have died from rattlesnakes bites. Both were holding the snakes.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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