NORTH PORT (FOX 13) - First, they spotted the tail. Then, they heard the rattle. A Sarasota County family got a wild surprise inside their garage last Friday after a rattlesnake had slithered its way in.
Tara Clum was walking out to her car, through the garage when something, among the baby toys, caught her eye.
"I walked by and saw like, this big thing on the floor and I thought it was a fake snake. It literally looked like a giant stuffed animal," Tara said.
But when she saw it's non-fake, non-stuffed head move, her blood went cold.
"I called my husband I was like, 'babe, there is a snake in the garage. Do not bring the baby out here'," Tara said.
"I said, 'Well, get a picture. Let me see the color,'" Bryan Clum said.
"And as I was taking its picture," Tara said, "it rattled its tail and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, babe, it's a rattlesnake!' And I busted toward the door!"
They immediately called for back-up. Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Animal Services came to the rescue.
The rattler wasn't slithering out silently. Ina video of the capture, you can hear the sound of its rattle echoing throughout the garage.
"They went right over there, got it, but, that guy was powerful," Bryan recalled. "I don't know, he's definitely well-fed. He definitely had a big middle. He was thrashing, he was knocking stuff over, he was fighting them."
Justin Matthews of Matthews Wildlife Rescue explained, "When they're rattling like that, that's a nervous reaction. Even a snake, a harmless snake that has no rattles, you'll see their tails going crazy like that."
Snakes, like most of us, don't like being stuck out in the rain. So when it's wet, they tend to go searching for shelter.
"The rattlesnakes like it dry. They don't like it marshy," Matthews said.
While rattlesnakes can strike up to half their body distance, Matthews says they don't chase. So if you see one, the safest bet is just to walk away and call a law enforcement or a trapper.
"They're venomous, hemotoxic," Matthews said. "So when they bite you, it starts destroying tissue and it gets in your blood... Once you get one caught, they actually calm down fairly quickly."
While the snake was removed and relocated in the wooded area across the street, the experience left the Clums feeling a bit rattled.
"It was so scary," Tara said.
They're now advising neighbors to keep their eyes wide open and their garage doors tightly shut to avoid any unexpected scaly visitors.
"It's rainy season so, I don't want to see my buddy come back," Bryan said.