SALT LAKE CITY, June 16 (UPI) -- A rattlesnake that had been spray-painted pink was found near a construction site in Utah's capital city on Tuesday.
Jim Dix, director of Utah's Reptile Rescue Service, said he recovered the snake in foothills around the University of Utah Hospital.
"It's animal cruelty," he told KSTU.
Dix is now tending to the 3-4 foot viper. He said he believes a construction worker may have colored it with ground-marking equipment, a move he characterized as "a really childish, stupid thing to do."
Dix said the paint makes the snake more visible to predators and prey, as well as making it more aggressive, as the paint covered its eyes, making it more likely to strike at perceived threats.
Harming wild snakes in Utah is a class B misdemeanor.
Dix's website advises people who are dealing with venomous snakes to "keep in mind accidents do happen," and that "you are 100 percent responsible for any incident by said reptile, which can include fines for escaping, as well as financial loss due to bites." It adds that hospital costs from a bite can run "from $90,000 plus, and in some cases death, which could land you in prison for negligence."