California is facing an onslaught of snakes, as well as other critters, as it experiences historic drought conditions that are increasingly driving wildlife into human inhabited areas.
Much of the US west is currently undergoing a record heatwave and its worst drought in at least 20 years, with temperatures soaring into the triple digits this weekend, and wildlife experts are saying the extreme weather is creating the perfect conditions for increased interactions between humans and animals.
Rattlesnakes, in particular, have been seen moving into urban areas in larger numbers, and are being found on porches, yards, nearby pools and under children’s play equipment.
Snake removal expert Lem Ramirez says he has been busier than ever before since opening his business in 1985.
‘Rattlesnakes are becoming more common in the places where we live, work and play,’ he told the Guardian.
Ramirez says he doesn’t think there are more rattlesnakes than before, instead he believes they are seeking refuge in urban areas from the extreme weather.
Their appearance has become so commonplace he warned parents to check for the snakes every time their children go outside.
‘I always remind parents to be a good scout before your kids go out to play,’ he said.
Ramirez said he has had some jobs in which he has removed up to 60 snakes.
Snakes aren’t the only animals seen encroaching into urban areas.
California’s black bear population has exploded in recent years with the extinction of the grizzly bear population in the state.
As human habitats expand, and the natural environment becomes more extreme, interactions have become more common.
‘In the urban areas, we have 24/7 access to food, water and shelter, and if you think about it in the wild, a bear might give birth to one or two cubs and those cubs may not survive until adulthood because their resources are limited,’ Rebecca Barboza a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife told ABC 7. ‘But in the urban area, their resources are basically unlimited, so the bears are able to give birth to multiple cubs and those cubs survive to adulthood.’