California Firefighters Encounter Snake While Grocery Shopping 

Fresno firefighters were surprised when they encountered a snake seemingly seeking refuge from the heat in a bush near a grocery store. While stopping off for lunch, the firefighters heard a commotion on the edge of the parking lot and investigated to find a gopher rattlesnake. The animals are not threatening to humans, but the firefighters quickly captured it and released it into a more appropriate environment.

Writing on social media, the Fresno Fire Department stated that the snake was “rumored” to be heading toward one of the city’s cooling centers to cool off. Cooling centers have opened across Fresno and other cities as temperatures are expected to soar to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooling centers are public spaces with air conditioning that temporarily allow people to escape extreme heat. Several states have recently opened centers with warnings that record-breaking temperatures were coming in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas. 

In June, Golden State Governor Gavin Newsom said, “Extreme heat can be deadly,” and urged residents to take whatever steps they could to protect themselves. Los Angeles County officials simultaneously encouraged people to drink lots of fluids and stay out of the sun if possible. 

Gopher snakes will likely heed that advice, as the animals are known to seek shade in warm weather because they cannot control their body temperature. They are one of California’s most commonly sighted snakes and are usually active during the day, but can become nocturnal if conditions demand it. While generally docile, they become aggressive if threatened and lash out with a closed-mouth warning. 

Adult gophers measure around three feet in length but can grow significantly longer. California’s largest snake is the giant garter, which averages around six feet long. While they are equipped with venom, garter snakes are not dangerous to humans, unlike their relative, the western diamondback, considered the Golden State’s most deadly. An aggressive animal, the diamondback kills an average of two people a year in California.