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Animal hospital performs rattlesnake surgery to remove tracking devices

"These snakes are Colorado residents and they perform a great duty. And we're going to thank these snakes more and more."

There are two ways to tell spring is here for the veterinarians at the Alameda East Veterinary Hospital.

One is from the dogs who get bit by rattlesnakes, and the other is when Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald brings the orange buckets to the surgery room.

"You can hear it," he said of the hissing noise coming from them. "So, these are rattlesnakes."

The rattlers were re-captured so the transmitters inside could be taken out.

"They were biological subjects for a year, and now they can go back to being private citizens," Fitzgerald said.

While you might be terrified, Fitzgerald called the snakes heroes for helping ecologists learn more about their habitat on North Table Mountain.

"So we're going to blow some gas on them and make them about three martinis," he said while anesthetizing a snake for surgery.

Fitzgerald will surgically remove 20 trackers this spring while Adaptation Environmental Services analyzes the data gathered from them.

"And probably not a surprise to the people at North Table Mountain - but rattlesnakes and people they cross paths a lot,” he said.

And the ones they tracked stick in groups, so if you see one rattlesnake, there's probably another one pretty close. Despite instilling fear in many, Fitzgerald said he likes them.

Every spring, he takes the time to thank these snakes for killing rodents who carry dangerous diseases.

"These snakes are Colorado residents and they perform a great duty," Fitzgerald said. "And we're going to thank these snakes more and more."

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