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17 Rattlesnakes Found Inside West Virginia Home

Snakes collected by West Virginia Natural Resources Police and taken back to their dens.

Brad Gill | August 29, 2018

I’ve talked to a lot of hunters over the years, and it’s safe to say that a large majority of them want nothing at all to do with a rattlesnake—period! While rattlers may certainly have their place out in the woods, I’ve always just found it best to steer clear and let them do their thing. No so for a West Virginia man.

The West Virginia Natural Resources Police recently posted on their Facebook page that they discovered 17 rattlesnakes in the home of a man in Randolph County. The name of that man has not been released.

According to their Facebook page, “Officers met the suspect at his residence and located a total of 17 rattlesnakes being kept there. The individual was ultimately charged with two counts of illegal possession of a timber rattlesnake, and possession of a rattlesnake less than 42 inches. The snakes were taken back to dens near where they were caught.”

In the state of West Virginia, the possession limit on rattlesnakes is one, and it must be 42 inches or greater in length.

According to Lt. Wayne Hubbard with Georgia DNR’s Law Enforcement Special Permit Unit, there are no restrictions on anyone collecting, possessing or selling native venomous snakes, like rattlesnakes, in the state of Georgia. However, it’s not a practice that’s necessarily recommended by WRD’s Wildlife Conservation Section.

“One really good reason for not removing rattlesnakes is that many folks are bitten while trying to do just that and would have been much safer off leaving them alone,” said John Jensen, senior wildlife biologist with WRD’s Wildlife Conservation Section. “We have even had a few cases of folks shooting themselves trying to kill snakes. Leaving them alone is much safer.”

John added that rattlesnakes do help control rodents and other pests.

“Both eastern diamondback and timber rattlesnakes are small mammal dietary specialists and help control pests around the farm and home, such as rats, mice and rabbits,” said John. “While most folks believe that all of our snakes eat rodents, in fact, most species do not, or only include them as part of their diverse diet. Eastern diamondbacks and timbers are an exception—they target these pests and eat virtually nothing else. Therefore, they truly are important at keeping small mammal populations in check.”

In addition, if eastern diamondback numbers continue to drop, it could mean changes to land management practices.

“Eastern diamondbacks have been petitioned for federal listing as a threatened species due to declining populations. While they have definitely declined, I personally do not think their current population, at least in Georgia and Florida, fits the definition of a federally threatened species,” said John. “However, continued threats to their populations, including human persecution, may make listing one day inevitable. Along with listing, new federal laws and regulations would be promulgated, which may include restrictions of certain land management practices that are deemed harmful to the species, on both public and private lands.”

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