MANCHESTER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Some potential danger has been discovered in several New Jersey neighborhoods.
As CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported, rattlesnakes have been spotted slithering around in Manchester Township, Ocean County. Rattlesnakes are rare in the Tri-State Area, but experts say people bitten by one could die.
Timber rattlesnakes are known for making a buzzing sound when frightened or rattled. They are hard to find in New Jersey, because they are slow to reproduce.
But police in Manchester posted photos on Facebook, warning residents of confirmed sightings of a venomous snake near Pershing Avenue in the Whiting section of the township.
“As a matter of fact, I was coming home from work one day pulling down Pershing, and there was one probably about five feet long crossing in front of me,” said Mike Tischio of Manchester Township. “I just watched it go by.”
Tischio was sitting in his car when he saw the snake. He is more cautious when he is out walking his two dogs.
“That’s why I keep them on a short leash,” he said.
Timber rattlesnakes like to bask when they come out of their dens in May. Police said the snakes are passive, but they can attack if threatened or provoked.
Police noted that it is currently mating season, and male timber rattlesnakes are seeking out females.
The snakes’ venom can be deadly.
Whiting volunteer firefighter Rick Heinrichs had some advice on what to do if one sees a timber rattlesnake.
“Avoid the rattlesnake and go the other way,” Heinrichs said. “They’re not aggressive unless you accidentally, you know, step on it or something like that.”
Brock Leftus, 12, dirt bikes in the area and has been told to be careful.
“If they’re in one area, they can jump and they can get close,” he said.
Police said if you see timber rattlesnakes, you should not approach or try to handle them; you should just leave. Sticking around agitates the snake and forces it to strike defensively.
Timber rattlesnakes can be found in the Pinelands in South Jersey up through the northern part of the state, and in parts of New York.
In New Jersey, they are on the endangered species list and intentionally killing one is illegal.
Police said if you see a timber rattlesnake, you should note the time and place and call the New Jersey Endangered and Non-Game Species Program at (609) 628-2103 for southern New Jersey, (908) 735-8975 or (908) 735-9281 for northern New Jersey, or (877) WARN-DEP on weeknights or weekends.
Anyone bitten by a rattlesnake should first dial 911. Other steps are available via the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.