Snake population may be declining, but the snake business thrives

According to a three-continent study of 11 species of snakes, the number of reptiles is declining. Maybe so, but not in my backyard.

Anecdotally speaking, it would seem that southern California rattlesnakes have reproduced with a vengeance this spring. Actually we're seeing last year's babies, says Jason McElroy of Southern California Snake Removal. There's no Planned Parenthood in Snakeville, and rattlers generally give birth in August or September.

Experts say that the past winter's heavy rain has fostered a large population of rodents, which the snakes like to eat -- hence we are seeing more snakes venturing out for dinner.

And with the advent of snake season comes a burst in the market for snakebite treatments, snake removals and snakebite vaccine demands. Snakes, it seems, are big business in this part of the world.