While tending to his boat after a weekend camping trip, a man in Yuba City, California, discovered that he had brought home an unwelcome passenger.
Lifting the boat cover tarp, he caught sight of northern Pacific rattlesnake inside the craft. The snake is a species of venomous pit viper.
“Before he could figure out what to do the snake crawled under the floor,” snake catcher Tyler Young, of Placer Snake Removal, told Newsweek.
Young said that there was no way for the juvenile snake to have slithered into the boat while it was in the garage: “The boat was on a boat trailer several feet off the ground with no way inside from ground level.”
Therefore, it must have found its way into the boat during the owner’s weekend getaway to Camp Far West, and had remained there until Wednesday evening. “It was somewhat trapped/contained inside,” Young said.
“It’s believed that a wave from another craft sent water into the interior of the boat, with this small rattlesnake embedded in one of these waves as it was swimming across a section of the lake,” Young said. “They didn’t realize at the time one of these waves introduced this rattlesnake into the boat.”
Northern Pacific rattlesnakes can be found from central California all the way up to southwest Canada.
Although they tend to prefer drier habitats, rattlesnakes are actually very good swimmers. “They generally only swim if they’re trying to get from point A to point B,” Young said.
“Some snakes get tired while swimming and may look for a place to rest in the water, another common way to accidentally acquire a snake while boating or even laying on an inflatable in the water.”
The venom of the northern Pacific rattlesnake is highly toxic and should always be treated as a medical emergency. “If left untreated [rattlesnake bites] can cause severe damage to the bitten extremity or even death,” Young said. “As long as you get to the hospital in decent time, modern medicine makes for a rather low fatality rate in bites.”
Young also said that bites from snakes are extremely rare. Most snakes will only bite if they feel threatened, for example if they are handled or accidentally stepped on. This is why it is always best to call in a professional to help remove venomous snakes.
To remove this particular rattlesnake, Young had to think outside the box, coaxing it out the same way it got in. “After filling the interior [of the boat] with water, we were able to finally flush the rattlesnake out and ensure he wasn’t the captain of the vessel any further,” he said. “This was one of the whackiest situations in quite a while.”