SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Scottsdale Fire Department is busy with a surge in snake calls from concerned homeowners.
The department's records show 377 snake calls so far this year. Most of them, 188, came in April.
"It's a low-priority call," Division Chief Jay Ducote told 3TV. "If we had a higher priority call, we'll go on that, but we can come out and remove the snake."
Wednesday afternoon, a woman in a gated community near Pinnacle Peak and Scottsdale roads found a gopher snake fighting a squirrel in her backyard. She called 911 and firefighters came to the rescue.
They used a snake grabber to put the injured snake into a bucket and drove it back to the desert.
"We don't destroy the snake. Snakes are important in controlling the rodent population," Ducote said.
Gopher snakes are non-venomous but are frequently confused with dangerous rattlesnakes because of their similarity in color.
The fire department suggests calling 911 if kids or pets are threatened, or if the snake is inside a house. Otherwise, Ducote says, the snakes are usually just "passing through."
"It's the desert. Snakes are out there. We've just got to find that happy medium living with them," firefighter Eric Wilson said.