An Alamo resident stepping outside for a quiet glass of wine instead found a stressful surprise. Rich Conti said on Sept. 4 he and his wife were in the back yard when their dog Louie suddenly began barking and they discovered a 4-foot-long rattlesnake.
"The dog started barking and then I heard the rattle and looked for it," said the Bryan Meadow resident.
He found the huge rattlesnake lying in the dirt near his back steps, coiled up, its rattle sounding a warning. Conti said the first thing he did was keep Louie away from the agitated reptile.
Once the dog was safely away, Conti went to get his "snake grabber," a pole with a clamp on the end designed to immobilize a reptile without getting close to it.
"We live at the foot of Mount Diablo and occasionally there are snakes," he explained. "My neighbor had one and I thought it was a good to have around if there was a snake, so I bought one on eBay."
Grabbing the snake and disposing of it were two different things, however. Conti said he was able to get the jaws of his tool around the snake's midsection, but that it took all of his strength just to hold onto the creature.
"It was much bigger and stronger than I'd ever seen. I had to hold it with two hands," he recalled. "It was scary for a little while. The thing was so big and it was angry."
Once he had control, he took the snake to the front of his house and there waited for help from a neighbor.
"My wife wouldn't come close to it - or me as long as I was holding it," he said with a laugh. "She called the neighbors but no one was around."
Eventually, Conti said, she brought him a shovel and he was able to hold the snake's head down on the ground until his neighbor Bob Oxenburgh came over and they were able to kill it.
"I couldn't believe how big and strong it was," he said. "It was pretty threatening."
Lindsay Wildlife Museum Wildlife Rehabilitation Director Susan Heckly identified the snake as a larger than usual Western Rattlesnake. Heckly said while the snake usually can be very thick through the body, they usually only measure about 3 feet in length.