La Cañada homeowner Neal Peterson is a walking library of snake-encounter stories, beginning with the one about the rattler that slithered out from the boards of his house while it was under construction in 1975.
Then there was the five-footer who lashed out at his wife from its resting spot near a storage shed, and the rattler that was found dead next to the body of a cat who used up all nine of its lives in the deadly heat of battle. Dogs gone missing, gruesome shovel beheadings and fire-department dispatches to the occasional in-home invasion are nothing new to homeowners on Gleneagles Place and Starlight Crest. It’s all a part of living near the Hahamongna Watershed Park, a territory designated as an “urban interface, ” a place where houses and wildland vegetation coincide.
Rattlesnakes, lured by their innate reptilian desire for warmth, often make appearances in local neighborhoods in late April or May and can be seen into early autumn, says Los Angeles County Fire Captain Adrian Murrieta, who’s been on countless snake-wrangling missions in his seven years with the department. “We’ve seen a couple of rattlesnakes before that were 5 feet long. Over time, you just get used to dealing with them.”