Couple surprised by rattlesnake in Gaspé industrial park

The couple came upon what appeared to be a wounded rattlesnake and when the area's wildlife services failed to show up, they decided to take matters into their own hands.

Snake appears to have come from Texas, says local vet who inspected it

The rattlesnake, which is believed to have come from Texas, showed up in a Gaspé industrial park Wednesday. (Submitted by Ève Woods-Lavoie)

Wednesday evening, a man walked into Gaspé veterinarian Ève Woods-Lavoie's office carrying a dead rattlesnake in a bag.

It marked the first time she had handled that type of snake, which is not native to Quebec and is not allowed there as a pet.

"He called and said they'd found a snake, and I was saying, 'OK, a snake…,' but it was an unusual snake," said Woods-Lavoie, who often takes in wild animals picked up around the city.

She's handled boa constrictors before, said never a rattlesnake.

The man and his partner happened upon the 50-centimetre snake while on a lunch break in the city's industrial park near the veterinarian's office. 

It appeared to be wounded and was moving slowly.

In a video the woman posted to Facebook, the snake's signature rattle can be heard as it flops itself into a bush. 

The couple had called the area's wildlife services, but "nobody came so they killed it, and called me," said Woods-Lavoie.

'It can potentially cause a lot of harm'

"The man recognized that it wasn't a local snake, that it rattled and as he had seen on animal shows, that it wasn't a very familiar and cooperative animal," the vet said. 

"So, because it was wounded, he killed it with a stick and he brought it in in a bag." 

Woods-Lavoie said the confrontation could have ended badly — "it's a dangerous animal, it can potentially cause a lot of harm."

If the couple had brought it in alive, she said she wouldn't have known how to handle it.

The vet said the snake could still have been "on the defensive," despite its weakened state. Rattlesnakes are known to spring far ahead when they bite, Woods-Lavoie said. 

And hospitals in Quebec don't have the antidote to its venom, she added.

It was already after 5 p.m. when the snake was brought into her office, so Woods-Lavoie, unable to reach any experts at that time, refrigerated it until she could take a closer look the next day. 

Snake now frozen, awaiting autopsy

That's when she determined the snake appeared to come from Texas and looked emaciated from what she guessed could have been a long trip aboard a truck's container.

One of the companies in the industrial park is based in Texas, she said. Another possible source of the snake's origins could have been someone dumping it, but that's unlikely because of how difficult it would be to own a rattlesnake. 

The dead snake is now in a freezer and will be sent to a Quebec biologist for tests to determine its exact species, sex and where it came from.

with files from Brennan Neil