GALVESTON — Signs warning courthouse visitors to keep off the grass took on a sense of urgency this week after attorneys and deputies snapped photographs of rattlesnakes resting in the courthouse’s tall, ornamental grass.

The pictures show rattlesnakes, some at least a foot long, basking in the sun’s warming rays.

“We have this problem for a few weeks every year,” said Bonnie Quiroga, director of the Office of Justice Administration, noting snakes, coyotes and opossums emerge from the low, wet and overgrown land nearby.

This week marks the third straight year warning signs were posted outside the courthouse, 600 59th St., in Galveston. Emails also were sent to employees warning of the snakes, Quiroga said.

The signs warn parents not to leave children unattended and urge everyone to stay on the sidewalks.

Workers put bait out for the snakes, County Judge Mark Henry said.

“There have been no reported bites that I’m aware of,” he said.

Signs urge anyone spotting a snake to report it to the security desk. Deputy Tammy Thomas snapped a few photos Nov. 1 of Deputy Ruben Ornelas using a baton to collect a foot-long rattler. Attorney Mark Diaz also took photos of a rattler curled at the base of bunch of grass.

In September, one small rattlesnake was found inside the ground-floor tunnel that connects the jail with the courthouse, Chief Deputy Vic Maceo of the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office said, noting pest control was called.

“Now that it’s cold, we won’t have to worry about it for a couple of months,” Maceo said.

Meanwhile, officials are exploring landscaping options other than the tall, ornamental grass, said Charles Kenworthy, facilities manager for the county.

The warning signs likely will remain in place until the first of December, Quiroga said. There have been no reports of snake sightings this week, possibly because of the cooler weather.

Attorney Mark Stevens quipped that he interviewed one of the snakes, which resented any implication that it might be a lawyer.

Contact reporter Chris Paschenko at 409-683-5241 or

(12) comments

Don Ciaccio

Wait- wouldn't those be selfies, since most attorneys are snakes in the grass? Food for thought

Robert Buckner

This years rains has helped the rodent population thereby providing food for snakes and coyotes. My opinion anyway.

Chris Tucker

This may makethe Headlines of the Week with Jay Leno....."Snakes at Courthouse".....who would have thunk? LOL!

Lars Faltskog

I think we're lucky in Galveston and in our county overall. What scares the heebie jeebies out of me are scorpions, and much of my family in the central part of the state have to contend with them so much.

Scorpions make their appearance when dark sets in. They rest in bathtub drains overnight, and when you open up the shower spigot two or more of the scorpions emerge from under the drain, ready to make your morning like a scene from "Tarantula", even though they're not really tarantulas, but scorpions. Then, if you're out and about picking up firewood, they can be on one of those logs, ready to sting you. I don't like snakes, but I really can't stand scorpions.

George Croix

"Meanwhile, officials are exploring landscaping options other than the tall, ornamental grass, .."
Echo string trimmer.
There. Gratis. No charge to taxpayers for landscaping consultants or focus groups.
If one of the little snakes in the grass bites a personal injury lawyer, which one is harmed more?

Lars Faltskog

Geocroix -
You have a point. Why buck the 2 to 3 decade trend that was so appropriately launched here in Texas (Xeriscape) that encourages native plant and grass life?

To try to have a St. Augustine turf grass would cost lots of $ to maintain (water, anti-fungicide/anti-blight since we get so damp in the winter months). Plus, I doubt it would deter a few wayward snakes.

I'm sure rural folks who take a gander at this are laughing their boots off. BTW - wear boots if you're scared of snakes.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Good Lord, the newspaper reports discovery of snakes in the grass at the courthouse and...not for the first time!

I mean it is just too perfect to even comment. This is truly a "stand alone" story.

And, of course, an opportunity to hire landscape consultants, into the bargain...what a morning, my sides are hurting.


Why not get some kind of snake repellant, sounds easy to me or just mow down the grass, that simple.

GW Cornelius

They just think they can get inside with the rest of the snakes at the court house.

Brad Gulick

The Rattler is the #1 snake on Galveston Island.

Mike Meador

Who is the 'spell checker' who approved the sign on the courthouse lawn?

George Croix

If you need to 'study other landscape options' BEFORE just going ahead and chopping down tall grass hiding rattlesnakes, you probably aren't too worried about two words versus one...[beam][beam]

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