Man shocked as live rattlesnake mailed to him twice

A truck driver has reportedly declared himself to be the victim of an “attempted murder” after live rattlesnakes were mailed to him through the U.S. Postal Service in two different states.

Elijah Bowles, 60, told The Los Angeles Times in an article published on Wednesday that he picked up a package containing a venomous snake last week from his local post office in Twentynine Palms, a small desert city near a U.S. Marine Corps base in Southern California.

Bowles told the newspaper that the rattlesnake had been mailed alongside a number of cotton balls that were used to muffle the sound of the snake’s rattle and was discovered by a friend who opened the package marked as “fragile” while they drove away from the post office.

“That’s attempted murder, if you ask me,” Bowles said. “When she opened the box, she threw it at me almost … And she says, ‘There’s a snake in there.'”

A rattlesnake is pictured showing its venomous fangs while slithering through tall grass in this undated file photo. A truck driver was reportedly sent surprise shipments of live rattlesnakes through the U.S. Postal Service in…


A snake measuring an estimated 2 feet long was found inside the box after Bowles pulled over his car and used a stick to open the package. Bowles called local emergency and animal control services after the discovery was made.

The snake that was in the package was later identified as a Western rattlesnake, or Northern Pacific rattlesnake, a common species in Northern California but rarely seen in Southern California.

Danielle Wall, a snake wrangler who lives near Twentynine Palms, told the paper that it was unremarkable “for a snake to survive in the mail like that,” noting that the creatures can survive for six months without food or water “as long as they don’t overheat or freeze.”

While the package containing the snake was labeled with a return address in Palm Coast, Florida, tracking information indicated that the parcel had actually been sent on May 3 from Hayward, California—a city in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A “virtually identical package” was reportedly mailed to Bowles’ home address in Florida a short time later, prompting the truck driver to question who might be targeting him and to instruct his family to head to the police station instead of opening the package.

“I’m trying to figure out, do I have any enemies?” Bowles told the Times. “I’m not a gangster … I’m a truck driver.”

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is said to be conducting an ongoing investigation of the California incident. It is unclear whether the Florida incident is also being investigated.

Newsweek reached out for comment to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service via email on Wednesday night.

While it is legal for some living animals to be sent though the mail in the U.S.—including bees, scorpions and certain birds—snakes are specifically forbidden, with the Postal Service having deemed “snakes, turtles, and poisonous reptiles” to be among the animals that are “nonmailable.”

Smugglers have been known to attempt sending venomous snakes through the mail on rare occasions. In 2017, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service discovered three king cobra snakes inside potato chip cans that were en route to Monterey Park, California, from Hong Kong.

Monterey Park resident Rodrigo Franco was later convicted of smuggling wildlife and sentenced to five months in federal prison after admitting to mailing approximately 23 of the potentially deadly snakes in multiple shipments.