VIDEO: Chesapeake residents find large canebrake rattlesnake outside apartment complex

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Chesapeake resident Mary Kay Stewart has posted a video to YouTube showing her husband and brother-in-law capturing a large canebrake rattlesnake in the bushes in front of their apartment building.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh this is crazy,'" she says.

Her husband, Greg Stewart and his brother - who you see picking up the five foot rattler with his hands - wanted to get the snake out and back to a more wild habitat.

"We couldn't just leave it here,” Greg Stewart says. "There were other neighbors that were threatening to kill the snake. We didn't want to see that happen."

Mary Kay says she called the city of Chesapeake for help, but says workers told her to call pest control.

"You don't think of calling your maintenance people for a rattlesnake," she says.

While certainly a bit frightening, it's important to remember that these snakes are not uncommon in Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina.

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the canebrake rattlesnake is a protected species in Virginia that inhabits hardwood and mixed hardwood-pine forests, cane fields, and the ridges and glades of swampy areas in localized areas of southeastern Virginia.

The apartments where this particular snake was found are located in the Deep Creek section of the city, which backs up to the Great Dismal Swamp.

John Kleopfer tells NewsChannel 3 that this is a prime habitat for the snake and that since July-August is peak mating season, males will occasionally wander into housing areas while searching for a mate.

John also notes that the video is a good example of what not to do when you encounter one of these snakes.

He says that you should call the local animal control or the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.



  • Harry Slaughter

    If they had waited on the wildlife people a child could have possibly been injured. Children are an endangered species that mean more to me than an snake. That snake was originally laying close to a doorway where a child just got off their bike and went inside. Good job by those who captured it. Most people would have killed it. No one knows how long it had been there. Can you imagine a ball going into those bushes and a child reaching in to retrieve it?

    • Michael Smith

      I just checked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website, and children are NOT listed, either as a threatened, or as an endangered species.

  • Mary Kay Stewart

    I’m the woman that took this video. I took it because I didn’t think anyone would believe how big that snake was either without it. Because we had already gotten it lured back into a huge ditch full of bullfrogs where we thought it had to have come from that opened up into a huge creek. But it only came back two hours later right back into the flower bed directly in the front doorway of my apartments. One step off the steps from someone scaring that snake by them, their child or animal approaching as my dog did could have been deadly. We did call animal control and the City prior to trying to catch it. But we got “Call Pest control”, well when you live in a rather expensive development in a newer area of Deep Creek you would think that is the Cities Responsibility. I sure did anyway and the News made it sound that way too didn’t they? At least according to what they were being told. Evidently that’s BS, your only going to be directed to PEST CONTROL as I was! But once Management was informed they are taking every effort to ensure our grounds are safe now. We now have a Pest Control company on 24/7 call in the future, I simply didn’t call them on that Sunday as the too are closed because I didn’t think rattlesnakes fell under their area of expertise. Also thinking it would have been gone by the time anyone got here. That is why we took matters into our own hands, capturing, preventing it from being killed by someone else terrified of them and taking it somewhere safe for it and us. This just once again shows me how our good ole tax dollars are being put to good use! And yes, that is sarcasm….

    • John Kleopfer

      Mary Kay,
      This is John Kleopfer from VDGIF. I’m glad everything turned out alright for both you and the snake. I believe you and Harry are taking my comments out of context. We would prefer folks not attempt to capture these animals, because of the risk of being bitten. However, I do understand your concern over the safety of the kids in the neighborhood. Canebrake rattlesnakes are relatively docile and usually only bite when harassed. As you notice while filming, the snake only wanted to get away. Again, I’m glad none was bit and the snake was not killed. And for that, I’m very happy. If you would like to call me to discuss, please contact at 804-829-6703.

  • Jessica

    Sounds like maybe animal control needs some retraining about going to get these snakes, if they’re protected.

    • Johnathan

      They don’t respond because they don’t remove wildlife from it’s habitat, neither does DGIF. If you don’t like the natural flora and fauna I suggest you never leave your house.

  • AGW

    These snakes are VENOMOUS, not poisonous. There is a huge difference! Thanks to these people for not killing this beautiful animal.

  • Mary Kay Stewart

    John, I’ve got no idea what a snake feels harassment is. I know he was curled up directly next to the steps just outside the archway of my bldg. I don’t know if someone simply stepping off a step in their path would startle them enough to strike or not?That dirt area is the first place every single dog hits as my dog did that day, coming nose to nose with that snake. Would he have struck at a dog sniffing at him? Why would he have come back to that flower bed rather than staying in that dig ditch full of fat frogs and other critters after we lured it back there? What was it about that flower bed he like so much to come back within 2hrs? I’ve lived in VA my whole life, since moving to these apts 2 yrs ago I’ve seen more Wildlife than I did when I live literally in the middle of the Dismal swamp on BunchWalnuts Rd. in Hickory. I counted the “Rattler notches” on his tail, there were 7-8 so that one has been around for awhile. I’m very happy it was returned to the wild and will hopefully live to a ripe old age but away from my flower bed. LOL!

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