Texoma group hunts and educates public on rattlesnakes

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - For many, rattlesnakes aren't welcome. But the unwanted visitors don't care.

It's hot outside and that's leading to more snake sightings in Wichita Falls, particularly rattlesnakes. So one group is doing something about it.

Rattlesnake Hunters of Texoma are out looking for the venomous snakes to catch, but it's probably not the type of hunting you're used to.

Co-Owner Jay Patrick and the rest of the volunteer group are spending their time trying to catch the snakes safely.

"No gas, no fire, no nothing," Patrick said. "We actually go out there, get the snakes, remove any snake that they want. Non-venomous or venomous."

Game Warden Eddie Hood said Wichita Falls is seeing an increase in rattlesnakes because the development of new homes is pushing them out of their natural habitat.

Hood also said there's a decrease in rodents they prey on. So they're looking for food.

However, Patrick said the rain after the drought led to more rodents, leading to more snakes. He sees it as an opportunity to teach.

"You have to respect these animals," Patrick said. "We want to educate people and keep people safe at the same time."

Once they're caught, they're sent to roundups before being returned and released far away from any homes.

"People grew up learning from their parents, who learned from their parents, that rattlesnakes are venomous snakes and you have to kill them," Patrick said. "Honestly, I do not recommend going after a rattlesnake with a shovel,  garden hoe, or a gun. It teaches bad ethics."

There are things you can do.

Officials with the City of Wichita Falls said two things you can do to decrease your chances of encountering a rattlesnake is to keep debris out of your yard and your grass mowed.

Patrick said the snakes are trying to find shade and cool temperatures, which is why so many people are encountering them.

"We've removed bull snakes, water moccasins, cottonmouths, you name it," Patrick said. "Any snake you want gone we'll get it gone."

He added they're around all year, but that's why they're noticed most during the summer.

Patrick said another reason there are more rattlesnakes is that with rodents for them to eat, they've been able to breed better, leading to more baby snakes.

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