A sparse, rattlesnake-rich landscape in northeastern New York state is filled with one of the reptile's species to the point where property owners have encountered them in the most mundane of circumstances.
Called Snake Acres, the area is filled with timber rattlesnakes, and these have come into contact -- and bitten -- humans and pets, outdoor magazine Outside Online reported.
Researcher William Brown, 70, has visited the area for 40 years to document their behavior. He refused to speak to the magazine unless the location was kept secret in order to keep amateurs from scaring the snakes.
“Work such as this must be conducted in strict secrecy,” he told the periodical.
Vickery Eckhoff, great-granddaughter of the original owner of a summer home in the area, remembered seeing a timber snake beheaded by her father near her front lawn as a child. Snakes became so common in the area, $5 bounties were offered.
The bounty system ended in 1973 because of overkill. The snakes repopulated by the 2000s and can be seen near swimming pools, lakes, and even inside homes, according to Eckhoff, who saw one during a birthday celebration.
Resident Richard Watkins, 59, grew to love the snakes so much, he once reported a close friend who killed one with a rock.
“I grew up watching my father kill snakes,” he said. “That awful snap still sticks in my ears.”
Donald Kreuzer, a dentist living in Washington, D.C., visited the area from Long Island as a kid. Still drawn to the region, he bought a home nearby.
He said Brown opened the eyes of residents to the joy of snakes.
“He educated us about this other species we were sharing the environment with. And the experience has been fantastic," he said. “I have no fear of them. I respect them,”