Arizona rattlesnake survived two years without food and water under sheds

A woman in Arizona has found an emaciated rattlesnake under her shed that had been trapped there for over two years. The western diamondback rattlesnake had probably survived without food or water the whole time.

The snake was first spotted on the property in 2020 while prowling around the woman’s garden. She quickly installed a wire fence at the bottom of the shed to keep out rats that might lure the deadly reptile. But what she didn’t realize was that the snake had already slithered under it.

“How this snake survived so long is beyond us,” said a spokesman for Rattlesnake Solutions, who removed the snake news week. “While it’s possible that some prey, such as B. small lizards that could fit through the 1/4 inch mesh barrier, it may have gone without food the whole time.”

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The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is the largest rattlesnake in Arizona and can be found throughout the Southwest. In some rare cases, the reptiles can grow up to 6 feet long. Their bite is potentially fatal to humans and can cause blood clots, internal bleeding, muscle damage, and tissue death.

Western diamondback rattlesnake
Stock image of a western diamondback rattlesnake. The snakes are found throughout the Southwest and are the largest rattlesnake species in Arizona.

“Rattlesnakes are often found on properties in Arizona, mostly in backyards where vegetation, water and food are available,” the spokesman said. “Every day our team is called to up to 30 snakes in our catchment area.

“Rattlesnakes in the wild routinely go months without food [and are] is generally considered capable of surviving for up to a year or more without them.

But even for a rattlesnake, two years is a very long time.

“When a rattlesnake is malnourished, its appearance can change dramatically,” the spokesman said. “In this case, the snake’s body fat and muscle had almost completely disappeared, leaving folds of loose skin draped over its ribs.

“Dehydration and starvation had exhausted its venom glands, leaving it with a narrow head, in contrast to the broad arrow most commonly associated with vipers.”

emaciated rattlesnake in a bucket
Photo of the emaciated rattlesnake after it was rescued. It was trapped under the shed with no food for over two years.
Rattlesnake Solutions/Dave Holland

“Sometimes as a rescue service we take in rattlesnakes that have been abused in captivity and starved to the point of no return… When it’s that far away, the stress of a feeding and the energy of digesting a meal is just too big for that, and the snake doesn’t survive.

“This rattlesnake, while clearly emaciated, may or may not have been in such a state.”

Dave Holland, a snake catcher from Rattlesnake Solutions who was on site, noted that the snake would have the best chance of surviving if it were returned to its natural habitat rather than undergoing rehabilitation in captivity.

“Based on Dave Holland’s assessment at the time, it appeared that the best course of action to allow the snake to survive was to return it to its original environment as soon as possible,” the rep said.

“It was released straight into a rodent burrow where it could remain in deep cover and safely explore its surroundings and hopefully successfully find prey.

“It’s a miracle… that it could survive so long.” Arizona rattlesnake survived two years without food and water under sheds

Rick Schindler

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