Frosted flakes or rattlesnakes?

A woman on Livingston's north side was jolted by more than a cup of coffee Thursday morning when she found a rattlesnake on her neighbor's kitchen table in an apartment on West Summit Street near the Northside Park and Soccer Fields.

She was checking on her neighbor's residence and reaching for a note on the table when she heard a rattle and saw the snake sitting on the table, said Animal Control Officer Judy Roy.

A city worker and a Livingston police officer responded and killed the snake, Roy said.

This is extremely unusual behavior for a rattlesnake, according to Michelle Becker, who has been catching and handling Western prairie rattlers in the area for more than 20 years.

In all of her experiences with rattlesnakes indoors, they either look for cover or instinctively head for the door to go outside, Becker said.

For a rattlesnake to enter somebody's house through an open door and go to the top of a table - "That is really crazy," she said.

"I can see it going into a house to look for cover, but I can't understand why it would go onto a table," she said.

"I'm glad it wasn't in the couch," she added.

Becker said the only possible rational explanation she could think of for why a rattler would climb to the top of the kitchen table is that it could have been following the scent of a rodent.

Becker also remarked that there have been an unusually high incidence of rattlesnake reports on the north side of Livingston this year.

In July, a rattlesnake entered a back yard on North 13th Street and bit a dog.

Also this summer, two residents on the north hill near the water plant came across rattlers on their property - one found a rattlesnake that had entered a garage, and another found one under a deck, she said.

Here are some of Becker's tips for rattlesnake safety this time of year:

- Don't provide a place for rattlers to hang out. Keep doors shut in both homes and garages. Keep the lawn cut to eliminate hiding places.

- Eliminate rattlers' food source. Snakes eat gophers, small rodents and even small bunnies. Cat's help minimize the availability of snake food.

- Be mindful when reaching into possible hiding places like stacks of wood.