CORONA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California man is recovering after he was bitten by a rattlesnake when he tried to pick up the poisonous reptile using barbecue tongs, authorities said.

The man spotted the snake Saturday evening near his home in the Sycamore Creek community of Corona and was worried about it coming into contact with children, according to a statement from Riverside County Animal Services.

When he tried to remove the rattler using the tongs, the snake struck and bit him on the hand, Animal Services spokesman John Welsh said. The man, who was not identified, was treated at a hospital and later released.

"He told me that he was feeling remarkably well," Welsh said Tuesday. “He said he definitely felt that he had dodged a bullet.”

Rattlesnake bites are painful and in rare cases can be fatal.

After the man was taken away by ambulance, a crowd gathered as Animal Services Officer Mike McGee removed the snake.

“Some of the children were saying, ‘bye, Mr. Snake,’ ” McGee said.

The reptile was later euthanized.

“We try to release rattlesnakes within one mile of where we remove it from, but it was highly likely this snake might end up in one of the adjacent homes again,” McGee said. “I didn’t believe a routine release would be safe this time.”

Officials said the number of rattlesnake sightings has gone up as the weather has gotten hotter in the area about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Welsh advised residents who spot a snake to call Animal Services instead of trying to remove it themselves.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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