The idea of stepping out of bed onto a rattlesnake is the stuff of nightmares, so social media was understandably horrified when a recent Facebook post revealed a rattlesnake was found under someone’s bed in Arizona.
The tens of thousands of reactions fell largely into two camps: Those who promised their shotgun would leave “a hole in the floor where the snake used to be” and those who were in stunned disbelief.
“Something that’s worse than the boogie man (is) hiding under your bed,” Sharon George Ottman wrote.
Mitchell Hawkins, a rattlesnake catcher with Rattlesnake Solutions in Arizona, took the much talked about photo four weeks ago, while standing in a “panicked” couple’s apartment bedroom in Phoenix.
“I left my snake tongs in the car, since snakes like these I generally just grab them with my hands and put them in the bucket,” Hawkins told McClatchy News.
“I opened the bedroom door and looked down to see a giant western diamondback rattlesnake — that was also pregnant — sitting under the bed.”
Hawkins did not provide his initial reaction, but his dimly lit photo says plenty. It shows the rattlesnake coiled at the end of the bed, its head slightly raised as if to strike. A single flip flop sits inches away, reminding viewers how close someone came to stepping on the snake.
It was nearly 5 feet long — “very large for the state of Arizona” — and in a “defensive” state of mind, Hawkins says.
What happened next sounds almost too easy. Hawkins says he went back for his tongs, “gently” grabbed the snake and put it in a bucket. It took only 10 seconds, he says.
Meanwhile, he says the “terrified” couple stayed outside on the patio. They actually got lucky. The snake was not found as they stepped barefoot out of bed, Hawkins said.
“They had gone outside to smoke a cigarette and left the door open. The snake was sitting next to the door and saw an invitation to get out of the heat,” he says. “They saw it after going back inside from the patio.”
He doesn’t blame the snake, which is now roaming the desert outside Phoenix. In fact, Hawkins says he tries to see things from the rattlesnake’s perspective.
“Snakes are not aggressive. They are defensive when they feel threatened and rightfully so. The world is a scary place when you are 2 inches off the ground and everything wants to eat you,” he says.
Rattlesnake Solutions specializes in “safe, humane snake removal and relocation” and tries to catch them alive and unharmed. Hawkins says the most challenging part is finding a suitable spot to relocate rattlesnakes “without risking the snake wandering into another yard.”
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