Rattlesnakes invade East Orange neighborhood, kill dogs

Trapper: Construction is sending snakes into yards

By Erik von Ancken - Anchor/Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Neighbors in East Orange County's rural Wedgefield subdivision said rattlesnakes have killed two dogs.

Wedgefield, which borders Hal Scott Regional Preserve between State Roads 520 and 528, is made up of large lots next to heavily wooded areas.

Trapper Leo Cross with Florida Wildlife Trappers said the wooded areas are home to the Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake.

"The eastern diamondback, they live in this brush," Cross said. "So when a track gets cleared, usually they have nowhere to go."

Cross was at a home on Robertson Street last week and removed a five-and-a-half foot long rattlesnake from Lori Parsons' home.

"We first saw it about a month ago when it visited us on our patio and our dogs started barking at it," Parsons said. "They (dogs) were barking and jumping back and the snake started coiling like it was going to attack them."

Cross said Parsons was lucky her dogs did not get close enough to be bitten.

"The dog found it because it could sense it a lot better than a human would," Parsons said. "Lucky they got their dog back before it struck at it, because there's already been a couple out here with the snakes bit people's dogs."

Cross found the snake hiding under palmetto branches.

"That venom, especially to a pet, might be devastating," Cross said. "To a human, you can call authorities, stay still, stay calm. Usually, if you can get the anti venom within two hours, you have a 99 percent chance of making it."

He put the snake in a bag and took it to a serpentarium in St. Cloud where it was milked for its venom to create antivenin, Cross said.

Cross said he visits Wedgefield several times a week for venomous snakes and has removed dozens of rattlesnakes, water moccasins and even a coral snake.

Parsons hoped it would be the last but has since realized there will likely be more.

"I wanted to think it was the only one and by trapping it, it was OK," Parsons said. "I've since gone on to the Wedgefield Facebook page and there's a number of snakes."

Neighbors posted concerns about their pets and asked for help removing and even tagging the snakes. Some asked about antivenin.

Cross said hospitals and some fire stations stock antivenin but the snakes will continue to invade yards as long as their habitat is destroyed with the continued construction and clearing of land.

"Tracks (of land) will be cleared at some point, you're probably going to see more snakes move out of here," Cross said.

Parsons is active in the Audubon Society and invited those curious about snakes to an informational presentation on Thursday.


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