Diamondback rattlesnake found in vacant Stowe house

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A 2-foot-long diamondback rattlesnake was found this afternoon in an abandoned house in Stowe.

Diamondback rattlesnakes are not native to the Pittsburgh area, leaving authorities to believe the snake was likely brought here from a warmer climate.

Paul McIntyre, chief of Triangle Pet Control Service Co. of McKees Rocks, said people were cleaning the house in the 600 block of Broadway Street when they heard rattling sounds and found the snake trapped in a wooden box with a lid.

"I'm sure someone bought it as a pet, didn't know what they were buying, and one bite will kill you," Mr. McIntyre said. "Even if it doesn't kill you, you'd wish it had. They have enough venom in them to bite and bite and bite and bite."

He believes the animal was likely left behind when previous tenants left.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission requires residents to seek permits for many native venomous snake species, but doesn't regulate ownership of non-native species, such as the diamondback.

Bill Savatt, code enforcement officer in Stowe, said it isn't illegal for residents to possess non-native venomous snakes in the township.

"We don't have any specific ordinance that deals with snakes," he said. "Most of what we have has to do with dogs."

Mr. McIntyre and one of his officers picked up the snake around 2 p.m. He said he doesn't have any intention to kill it and has contacted several different agencies that might be able to take it.

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Taryn Luna: tluna@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1985.


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