Man receives live rattlesnake in mail; thinks someone is trying to kill him

Close up image of a rattlesnake

SAN BERNADINO COUNTY, Calif. — A California man said he thinks someone is trying to kill him after a live rattlesnake was shipped to him in the mail.

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Elijah Bowles, 60, picked up a package at the Twentynine Palms Post Office in San Bernardino County earlier this month, The Los Angeles Times reported.

His friend opened the box as he drove away, and that’s when they found a live rattlesnake inside the package.

“When she opened the box, she threw it at me almost,” Bowles said. “And she says, ‘There’s a snake in there.’”

He pulled over, put the box on the ground and used a stick to open it. Then he called 911 and animal control.

The box was stuffed with cotton balls to muffle the sound of the 2-foot-long snake’s rattle and so the postal workers wouldn’t hear it, Bowles told the newspaper.

“That’s attempted murder if you ask me,” he said.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office told USA Today that it took a report and forwarded it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service which is investigating.

The box had a return address of Palm Coast, Florida, but according to tracking information it was mailed from Hayward, California, on May 3.

The snake was a Western rattlesnake, also known as a Northern Pacific rattlesnake and is common in Northern California, but not the southern part of the state.

How did it survive being mailed, presumably without food?

According to the National Wildlife Federation, a rattlesnake eats once every two weeks.

Bowles said a nearly identical package was sent to his home in Florida and that he has told his family members to take it to police without opening it.

A bite from a rattlesnake can be fatal if left untreated. Normally, treatment has to start within about half an hour of being bitten, USA Today reported. The venom causes organ failure and the victim can die in two to three days if no treatment is given.

Still, Bowles wondered why someone sent him a deadly snake.

“I’m not a gangster,” he told the Times. “I’m a truck driver.”

If you receive a suspicious package, not necessarily one containing a rattlesnake, you can call the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455, according to KCAL.

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