Temperatures are rising. The weather is warming up. Denned snakes are emerging and snake encounters are becoming more common.
At about this time every year, we remind you to be aware of rattlesnakes. As the weather warms up, the snakes emerge from their winter quarters. The result is an increase in human versus rattlesnake encounters.
Rattlers are one of the few venous snakes in California. And the are the largest of them. These snakes are heavy-bodied. They can grow up to 8 feet long. The average size of a rattler, however, is between three and five feet.
Rattlesnakes venom is a hemotoxin that destroys tissue and affects also the circulatory system by damaging blood cells and through internal hemorrhaging. Bites are excruciatingly painful yet rarely lead to death as long as the person who was bitten seeks immediate medical treatment with antivenom.
Antivenin, a snake antivenom, is very expensive. One dose to treat a dog can cost several hundred dollars. A standard dose for humans will set you back by up to $ 1,500. More than one standard dose of the anti-venom may be required in either case to counteract the snake venom.
Though rattlesnakes are not aggressive and prefer to avoid humans when possible, they will strike when cornered, stepped on, touched or when they feel threatened in any other way. By the way, rattlesnakes do not always rattle before striking.
The Mojave Green rattler is infamous for not rattling as a warning. They are also more aggressive that your regular rattlesnake. Add to it that Mojave Green venom is hemotoxic and has a neurotoxic component and you can understand why this snake has such a bad reputation. The last thing you want to experience during a summer outing in the desert is a strike from an ill-tempered Mojave Green.
Rattlesnakes prey mainly on rodents. Therefore, you can expect to meet rattlers wherever rodents are abundant. The snakes will follow the rodents into your garden and backyard. Naturally, that is exactly where they become a significant danger to your kids and pets.
How to discourage snakes to set up a home on your property?
Keep rodents away by eliminating their food sources.
Clean up your property by eliminating wood piles and other trash that creates hiding places for the snakes.
Remove brush and high grass.
And, the best defense of them all, install snake-proof fencing around your property.
You can find more detailed information in our above-referenced articles and in the latest, most detailed and informative CDFW article.
In California, rattlesnakes can occur almost everywhere. In your yard, in urban parks, on campgrounds, on golf courses, hiking trails, and bicycle paths. But do not let that discourage you from enjoying our marvelous outdoors from the sea to the deserts and the mountains.
Snake awareness, common sense, and caution go a long way to staying safe and avoiding trouble with rattlesnakes. And don’t forget to read the current CDFW advice column.
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