If you thought your children and pets were safe from rattlesnakes here in Tampa Bay… think again!

According to ABC Action News, a Brooksville woman and her dog recently had a scary encounter with a large rattlesnake.

Bobbie Boydston says she let her small, 7 pound Yorkshire Terrier (named Suri) out into the yard one morning, when the unexpected happened.

Boydston heard  little Suri yelp out.  Turns out, Suri had been bitten by a snake. And what’s worse, it was a huge 6-foot Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake. “It bit her in the corner of the eye and on the forehead,” said Boydston.

The little dog immediately collapsed and her owner thought the worst. Obviously, even big dogs die from snake bites, so how can a tiny 7 pound Yorkie survive?

The owner quickly rushed the little dog to the emergency animal hopsital where thankfully, they administered the proper anti-venom. Even still, no one really thought little Suri would make it. But she did, and now they call her their little miracle dog.

Snake experts say the bird feeder in the Boydston’s yard was most likely what attracted the rattlesnake, because it preys on the mice and squirrels that eat the seeds that fall to the ground. Chris Wirt, a licensed professional wildlife trapper with AAAC Wildlife Removal of Tampa Bay, says bird feeders are one of the number one attractors of snakes, mice and raccoons.

So, the lesson here is that if you have small children or pets using your yard, its best not to have any feeders that attract wildlife (and venomous snakes). Suri’s family decided to get rid of the bird feeder rather than risk another attack.

This story may come as a surprise to some Floridians, as many do not realize that rattlesnakes ARE here. TBEP (Tampa Bay Estuary Program) warns that Florida actually has “six venomous” snakes:

  1. Eastern Coral Snake
  2. Southern Copperhead
  3. Cottonmouth
  4. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
  5. Canebrake Rattlesnake
  6. Pygmy Rattlesnake

In the Tampa Bay area, keep your eyes peeled for the Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake and the Dusky Pygmy rattlesnake. Adding that the Eastern Diamondback is the largest venomous snake and may exceed 6 feet in length.

Wirt says to never go after a rattlesnake, and to remember that a snake can still bite up to 6 hours even after their heads have been cut off. (Yikes!) He says to always call a licensed professional.

Sounds like good advice. You won’t have to tell me twice.

And as a side-note to this story… when wildlife officials capture and remove a rattlesnake in the City of Clearwater… do you know where they take them? They release them on Caladisi Island. Yeah! Crazy right? There are hundreds of people (and their dogs) running around on Caladisi Island every weekend. There have been many reports of beach-goers being frightened by huge rattlesnakes crawling along the beaches on Caladisi Island.

You’ll never catch me on Caladisi again, that’s for sure.

For the video from ABC Action News click HERE.

To see videos of rattlesnakes being caught on Florida beaches, click HERE.

Rich Fields is a veteran radio broadcaster who is best known for having been the Announcer on the Price is Right. He is also an Emmy Award winning Meteorologist .

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