Stetson University

Pigmy Rattlesnakes in the News

Charles Blount of Tallahassee, Fla. was bitten by a pigmy rattlesnake in March 1995 as he picked up a potted plant at the local Walmart. Blount stomped on the snake and then another shopper went after it with a shovel. Pigmy rattlesnakes have bitten four shoppers in stores since 1987. Three of these bites occurred in Walmarts, while one shopper was bitten in a Kmart.

Information above is from the Orlando Sentinel; March 22, 1995; Associated Press.

We don't know why pigmies prefer Walmart, it may be the low prices or it might be an artifact of low sample size. In each case the snakes were in the garden section. We don't find it surprising that these snakes get into garden sections of Florida stores. They feed on lizards, including brown anoles, which are often very common in plant nurseries. Pigmy rattlesnakes' typical reaction to a human, when closely approached, is to remain motionless. A snake in a potted plant is likely to stay in it even if the plant is moved by a gardener. These cryptic snakes are also fairly agile climbers, so it seems likely they would get into potted plants in outdoor nurseries.

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