The drought is bringing more than water woes to the Valley – it’s increasing the number of wildlife on the hunt themselves for water and shade.
This is also true for a slithering predator, the rattlesnake. Though snakes can hide in plain sight, blending in with grass and brush, there are precautions to take to avoid getting bitten.
If you’re outdoors this summer, avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide in the day. Never go barefoot, wear sandals or open-toed shoes when walking through wild areas.
In order to prevent rattlesnakes from coming into your yard, it should be made less friendly to the snakes. This includes removing areas where they may nest, such as wood or debris piles and removing rodents that they might eat from your property.
Rattlers like shade and cool, so if you leave your doors open in the summer you may be inviting them in. Local rattlesnake wrangler Bo Slivovic told Valley News Group he’s pulled rattlesnakes out of sheds, garages, and even closets.
Avoid approaching any snake you can’t identify. For the most part, they want to stay away from humans as much as humans want them to keep their distance. If you do hear a warning rattle, move away from the area and don’t make sudden movements. Rattlesnakes are not usually aggressive unless provoked, but remember, rattlesnakes don’t always rattle before they strike.
Don’t forget, an estimated 150,000 dogs and cats are bitten each year by venomous snakes in the United States. Your dog can come into contact with rattlesnakes just about anywhere: your yard, a local park, or hiking trails.
A rattlesnake bite exerts toxins into the blood vessels and can cause swelling, loss of breath, and extreme blood loss in the animal, so it’s important that you seek help as soon as possible.
Keep your pet nearby and on a leash while hiking or walking through brush and canyon landscape to prevent them from exploring brush and large rocks where rattlesnakes can hide.
One method to help keep a pet protected is to undergo rattlesnake aversion training, which both safely and effectively teaches your dog the dangers of rattlesnakes. There are many local options in the area for rattlesnake aversion training.
Assistant Medical Director Dr. Cyrus Rangan of the California Poison Control Center calls the time between now and September, “snakebite season.” Between 300 to 400 calls of snakebites are taken each year primarily during spring and summer. If you are bitten, don’t panic but call 911. Wash the bite with soap and water if available. Immediately remove watches, rings, etc., which may constrict swelling. Immobilize the affected area and keep the bite below the heart if possible. Do not make incisions over the bite wound or ice the site.
“Skip all the cowboy remedies, like tying a tourniquet or sucking out the venom,” Rangan said. “All those things have been proven not to help or make it worse.”
Most amputations or other serious results of a rattlesnake bite are a result or icing or tourniquets.
Though rattlesnake bites are seldom fatal – less than one in 600 result in death and 25% of bites contain no venom at all – a bite is still traumatic and can be avoided by taking simple precautions.