Tag Archives: rattlesnakes

Shake, Rattle and Roll: Rattlesnake Season is here

With the coming of spring and warmer weather conditions, snakes of many species are through hunkering down, making human encounters with these elusive creatures more likely. Although most native snakes are harmless, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommends giving the venomous rattlesnake a wide berth and knowing what to do in the rare event of a bite.

“Snakes really get an unfair bad rap, when they actually play an important role in California’s ecosystems,” said CDFW’s Keep Me Wild program coordinator Lesa Johnston. “Like most wild animals, snakes prefer to keep to themselves and are not naturally aggressive. Taking the time to learn about safety precautions before going outdoors can make all the difference.”

Rattlesnakes are widespread in California and are found in a variety of habitat throughout the state from coastal to desert. They may also turn up around homes and yards in brushy areas and under wood piles. Generally not aggressive, rattlesnakes will likely retreat if given room and not provoked or threatened. Most bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally brushed against by someone walking or climbing.

On occasion, rattlesnake bites have caused severe injury – even death. However, the potential of encountering a rattlesnake should not deter anyone from venturing outdoors. The California Poison Control System notes that the chances of being bitten are small compared to the risk of other environmental injuries. Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors.

CDFW provides tips for safely living in snake country on its website, as well as tips for keeping snakes out of your yard and what do to do (and not do) in the event of a snake bite.

Additional resources can be found on the CaliforniaHerps.com Living with Rattlesnakes webpage.

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Media Contact:
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8933

CDFW Reminds Residents to be Rattlesnake Safe

Media Contact: Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

As warm weather returns, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding the public to be rattlesnake safe.

All of California is snake country. Much like bats, rattlesnakes are often misunderstood. They play an important role in the ecosystem by keeping rodent populations under control.

California has six venomous snakes, all of which are various species of rattlesnake. They are heavy-bodied, blunt-tailed with triangular-shaped heads. A rattle may not always be present, as they are often lost through breakage and not developed on the young. Additional species information can be found here: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/snake.html.

Rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive and usually strike when threatened or provoked. Given room, they will retreat and want to be left alone. They are not confined to rural areas and have been found in urban environments, lakeside parks and golf courses.

The best protection against unwelcome rattlesnakes in the yard is to have a “rattlesnake-proof” fence. The fence should either be solid or with mesh no larger than one-quarter inch. It should be at least 3 feet high with the bottom buried a few inches in the ground.

Keep the fence clear of vegetation and debris. Encourage and protect kingsnakes, which prey on rattlesnakes, and other natural competitors like gopher snakes and racers.

On rare occasions, rattlesnakes can cause serious injury to humans. Most bites occur between the months of April and October when humans are most active outdoors. The California Poison Control Center notes that rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites each year in the U.S. with one to two deaths.

CDFW recommends the following outdoor safety precautions:
-Wear hiking boots and loose-fitting long pants.

-Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.

-When hiking, stick to well-used trails.

-Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.

-Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark.

-Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood.

– Remember, rattlesnakes can swim so never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers.

-Teach children to respect snakes and to leave them alone.

What to do in the event of a snake bite:
-Stay calm and wash the bite area gently with soap and water.

-Remove watches, rings, etc, which may constrict swelling.

-Immobilize the affected area and go to the nearest medical facility.

What you should NOT do after a rattlesnake bite:

  • DON’T apply a tourniquet.
  • DON’T pack the bite area      in ice.
  • DON’T cut the wound with a      knife or razor.
  • DON’T use your mouth to      suck out the venom.
  • DON’T let the victim drink      alcohol.

For more general information on rattlesnakes, visit:
http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74119.html.