Texas rat snake found in BBQ pit

Warmer temperatures are forcing unwelcome guests into homes.  A snake found in a BBQ grill caused a scare this past weekend for a south Austin family. It was a Sunday surprise for Andrew Barlow and his family.

"So I just looked in here, and on my not so clean BBQ grill he was down inside of there,” said Barlow.

Barlow’s wife, Trina, took a picture of the snake while it was inside the gas grill at their SW Austin home. The Barlow's dog alerted them to the intruder, which generated quite a few comments after images were posted on social media.

"It’s funny I think a lot of people are snake-phobic  and actually a lot of people their response was to turn the grill on and kill that thing, but we thought it would be wise to take a look, find out what kind of snake it was and then react based on that,” said Barlow.

Turns out it was a Texas Rat Snake -- which is not poisonous. Reptile expert Tim Cole says- because of the hot temperature kicking in now, it’s not uncommon for snakes to take shelter in cooler spots like BBQ pits, under decks and by pools.

"He may have just eaten a meal, and was just resting, or he may have detected rodent activity, or was waiting for somebody to show up,” said Cole.

That theory sounds right to Andrew Barlow.

"Our next door neighbors do have chickens and it’s interesting in our neighborhood; we've noticed some people who said they got rats."

Coral snakes have also generated a lot of recent calls according to Cole. They're dangerous - but only if handled.

The increase in wildlife sightings is not limited to snakes; there have been several other types of critter encounters. Cellphone video of a coyote was taken earlier this month. It was spotted roaming around a greenbelt next to a south Austin neighborhood.

"I know they are feeding on small rodents, for the most part, that’s what they eat, not unlike snakes,” said Cole.

Cole believes coyotes, like rat snakes can actually provide a useful service.

"I bend over backwards to convince them this is a good thing leave it there, think of it this way, he wouldn’t be there if there wasn’t a food source."

Removing them - Coles says- may only invite a more dangerous predator to move in. Reducing the threat involves reducing the clutter in your yard.

The Barlow's have already identified the first thing to go.

"actually I think we are going to put the grill on the front curb and offer it for free on Craigslist and then get a new one,” said Barlow.