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Rattlers Slithering Out After Heavy Rains

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Thanks to the heavy rainfall this winter, a warmer spring is around the corner meaning everyone is eager to get outside and enjoy the sunshine…including the snake population awakening from their hibernation.

The Southern Pacific rattlesnake, the most common venomous snake living in SoCal, is benefiting from the effects of the steady rainfall both in food supply and in lush acreage to slither in. For the unsuspecting person enjoying the outdoors, this can be a deadly encounter waiting to happen.

Assistant medical director Dr. Cyrus Rangan of the California Poison Control Center calls the areas between now and September, “snakebite season.” Between 300 to 400 calls of snakebites are taken each year primarily during spring and summer. Treatment with an antivenom leads to a full recovery but if untreated for more than eight hours, the venom can eat away at the tissue resulting in severe bodily damage. If bitten, head immediately to a hospital. “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.”

For those who do encounter a rattlesnake, especially on popular hiking trails in the area, keep your distance. Don’t be tempted to lean in to snap a photo or get closer as snakes are prone to strike when provoked and they strike fast…For the most part, they want to stay away from humans as much as humans want them to keep their distance.  However, with breeding season in full effect, the prevalence of rattlesnakes and their litters are sure to increase. Due to their ability to camouflage themselves quite well, hikers and outdoorsmen are encouraged to tread carefully, be vigilant and keep an ear out for the telltale rattle.


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