Deadly rattlesnakes are popping up everywhere in northern California and in other states across the scalding southwest.
Len Ramirez, the owner of Ramirez Rattlesnake Removal, told The Guardian that rattlesnakes are showing up on front porches, in people's potted plants, under children's swingset, and play equipment, and he is "busier than I have ever been. Complaints are coming in from all over the state...rattlesnakes are becoming more common in the places where we live, work and play."
He said he's seen spikes in snake appearances before now after opening his business in 1985, and he doesn't think there are really more snakes these days, but that they are heading into people's neighborhoods to get away from the rising temperatures.
Ramirez doesn't kill snakes, but instead clears them from inhabited areas and takes them back into the wild.
He said he saw similar problems during California's last drought from the end of 2011 to 2019, but now things are getting worse because of the increased development, wich displaces wildlife, including snakes.
He told the Guardian he had had some jobs where he's had to remove more than 60 snakes at a time and warns parents to watch out before allowing their children to play outside.
Other wild animals are also heading to the suburbs in search of food, water, and shelter from the heat, especially bears. "The bear population is expanding its range, so bears are showing up in areas where they’ve never seen before,” Rebecca Barboza, a wildlife biologist who studies the trend for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told ABC News.
Even innocent-looking songbirds ranging out of their normal habitats while looking for water and shelter can be dangerous.
Birds and mosquitos both can carry deadly diseases like the West Nile virus. Cameron Webb, a medical entomologist and senior investigator with the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology's Public Health division said birds are expanding their range in search of water and food.
"You get this combination of factors that means not only are conditions suitable for mosquitoes but also the birds that carry the virus are more likely to be in higher concentration closer to where people live," he said.
Mosquitos can often thrive in cities during droughts, because human-made places like pipes or ponds can end up having stagnant water where mosquitos like to breed, especially after the fish and animals that usually live there die off.
Ants, cockroaches, and rodents can also multiply during droughts and will seek out people's homes to find water when they can't find something to drink outside.
and other visitors also need water to survive and human homes are typically where they go to find it when it’s absent in outdoor environments.
"This can mean rodents nesting in wall voids versus underground burrows and feeding from garbage bags rather than fallen fruits and seeds. Or, ants moving into potted plants to nest and feeding on last night’s leftovers," said Mike Bentley, an entomologist for the National Pest Management Association.
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