PLEASANT HILL, Calif. (KRON) – Pay close attention to your next step at East Bay parks — That’s the warning coming from a Pleasant Hill woman who recently encountered a rattlesnake.

She tells KRON4 that she fears she would have been bitten if the snake didn’t warn her first.

Gopher snake sightings at Paso Nogal Park in Pleasant Hill are not out of the ordinary but rattlesnake encounters are rare.

“We know they’re here. We absolutely know they’re here, but we’ve never seen one,” Cheryle Gherlone said. 

That changed for Cheryl Gherlone and her husband last week. At around noon that day, the couple and their two dogs were stopped in their tracks near the park exit on Gail Drive.

An at least three-foot-long Northern Pacific rattlesnake appeared from the grass, hissing, and rattling

“My husband called out ‘it’s a rattlesnake,’ so I took my little dog and went down there to get away because I was a little bit afraid. And, then the rattlesnake continued across. Went over here behind this tree,” Gherlone said. 

That’s where Gherlone was able to take a few photos of the venomous reptile.

Naturalists say they rarely attack people unprovoked. Gherlone says she feels fortunate the snake warned them and that her dogs were leashed and unaware of the snake but she thought it was odd to see it out in the heat.

Naturalists say you are more likely to see one when it cools down in the late evening.

“Just stay alert. They can get in your backyard too,” Gherlone said. 

Gherlone says brushes with wildlife that in the past may have been heard but not seen are now becoming more common and she believes the drought is playing a role.

“We’re seeing all kinds of critters coming closer. Lots and lots of coyotes around here, coming closer to our homes — just blatantly walking out onto the street. It’s just — they’re looking for food and water; that’s closer to our homes,” Gherlone said. 

Walk trails in pairs, carry a phone in case of an emergency and be aware of the nearest hospital in case you need access to anti-venom.