During the summer of 2018, an Arizona family decided to cool off by taking a dip in the pool. After they grabbed a pool noodle, though, they may have had an awful shock. You see, the floatable foam was inhabited by some potentially dangerous intruders – the venomous kind, in fact.
Yes, the Buckeye residents found multiple rattlesnakes in the pool toy, with the reptiles having perhaps slithered in there to retreat from the heat. News of the family’s unfortunate find was then passed on to the local fire department, which subsequently issued a “pool noodle alert” to those in the city.
In the Facebook post – published in June 2018 – the City of Buckeye Fire Department wrote, “Apparently, two pool noodles were left outside of the pool up against [the family’s] cinderblock wall. The next time they went to use the pool, the pool noodles were picked up and brought to the swimming pool. [Then] out popped a rattlesnake.”
“After some research,” the post continued, “we found that there have been reports of snakes actually laying their eggs inside the pool noodle itself or around pool noodles that have been left outdoors, near bushes or block fences.” This is not true of the rattlesnake, however, as this species of viper isn’t oviparous.
But rattlesnakes aren’t all that Arizonans have to look out for. Indeed, there are other types of creatures in the state that could be dangerous if a person stumbled across them. Coyotes are known to live in Arizona, for example, while scorpions and peccaries also roam in certain areas.
Buckeye’s location also makes it susceptible to snakes. Given the city’s proximity to the Sonoran Desert, it’s perhaps no surprise that it therefore has a very dry climate. Temperatures, too, are often high, with the record being a sweltering 125 °F in July 1995. And even during typical summers in Buckeye, the thermometer will often reach above 100 °F.
In fact, since the city is warm practically all year long, the area provides a perfect habitat for reptiles. As such, it’s not uncommon for snakes to come into close contact with humans there. And if a rattlesnake approaches, the consequences could unfortunately be dangerous.
In Arizona as a whole, there are 13 distinct species of rattlesnake – named for the noisy “rattle” at the tips of their tails. Rattlesnakes will often use this device to create a racket and so caution potential predators; unfortunately, though, not all strikes by the reptiles are preceded by this type of audible alert.
Still, in the case of the Buckeye family, the rattlesnake did not attack – something for which they are probably thankful. Even so, the clan felt at risk thanks to the presence of baby snakes inside the same pool noodle. And despite the fact that they have not reached maturity, young rattlesnakes can be a potential threat.
Worse still, baby rattlesnakes won’t warn prospective victims, as they do not have rattles until after they first moult. At this age, they are still very venomous, however; as a result, they can cause considerable damage to humans if they choose to bite.
And Buckeye residents are no strangers to snakes in general. Indeed, City of Buckeye Fire Captain Tommy Taylor has claimed that getting rid of the reptiles is a regular occurrence for his department. In June 2018 he told Fox 10 Phoenix, “Here in Buckeye, we run an average of three to five calls a day for snake removals.”
Taylor continued, “But [a snake] inside a pool noodle? That’s crazy. That’s different.” He added, “If you’re going to be in the pool, and you have stuff that’s stored outside overnight, [it may] be a good idea to shake it. Might be a snake or scorpion in it.”
Meanwhile, Greyson Getty from Phoenix-based snake removal and relocation service Rattlesnake Solutions has explained that the reptiles usually look for spaces with some shade, such as corners. To avoid snakes crawling into your pool noodles, then, such items should be stored either in sealable containers or high up on a shelf.
In June 2018 Getty said to Raleigh, North Carolina, station WRAL, “It’s ungodly hot out, and snakes are just looking for somewhere to hide. Anything that a snake or a rodent can hide under, try to eliminate it. Try to keep everything neat and tidy.” He added that snake fences could be used to prevent the creatures’ entry altogether.
In the Facebook post that warned the public of the dangers of snakes in pool noodles, the City of Buckeye Fire Department also issued some advice to residents on what to do should they ever come across a rattlesnake. And the first step was simple yet important: don’t get flustered.
The post explained, “One of the worst things you can do when coming across a rattlesnake is to start panicking. Snakes rely on vibrations in the ground to determine where you are. If you start moving fast and abruptly, you’ll only scare the snake more.”
The next tip was to give the snake “a lot of space.” The fire department post continued, “You can easily walk around [a snake] without frightening it. Just keep in mind that rattlesnakes can coil up and strike at great lengths, so give it as much space as possible.”
The department’s Facebook followers were also recommended to listen for a rattle. “If the first indication of a rattlesnake’s presence is the sound of its rattle, you’ve already startled it,” the message said. “Instead of running, stay still. Chances are [that] the snake will stop rattling and slither off after it has calmed down.”
Finally, the post stated, “Humans are much bigger than snakes, so [a snake doesn’t] see any benefit in biting if it doesn’t need to protect itself. They’ll more than likely slither away to safety on their own.” A phone number was also provided for anyone needing additional advice.
So, if you happen to find a rattlesnake in your vicinity, remember not to panic. And even if you do hear that foreboding rattle, don’t be tempted to make a dash for it. Just stay in your spot or walk calmly and at a distance from the snake until the danger has passed. Hopefully, then, you and your loved ones can avoid receiving a vicious bite.