Rattlesnakes are the natural predator of many rodents and actually are a beautiful part of the local ecosystem. While they are feared because of their well-known venom and potentially deadly bite, taking a few precautions can decrease your chance of an encounter with them.
Snakes are cold blooded so they need the sun to warm them up and get going so morning is a time when you may see a rattlesnake out sunning itself on a rock or the sidewalk. Once they warm up they will need to find somewhere to stay out of the sun and avoid getting too hot so they will take shelter and hide around, behind and under items.
- Never reach somewhere you cannot see (i.e. under or around a potted plant)
- Check before reaching under any items lying down around your home, on your lawn or in your garden
- Always look where you are walking or going, especially on a trail or in a native area
REMEMBER rattlesnakes may not warn you! They do not always sound off that famous tail rattle, especially if they do not see you coming! So do not depend on getting an early warning, use your eyes and scan the area you are in especially if it is in brush or community landscaping. If you do happen to hear a rattle, freeze, and look for the snake. If you move pre-maturely you may actually get closer to the snake. Rattlesnakes can strike up to 2/3 of their body length.
Rattlesnakes are very good for the environment and are not as aggressive as they are made to seem. They want to get away from you as much as you do from them. It’s a cliché but one that is very true. If you do happen to see one, stay away! Do not taunt them or play with them as they will become agitated.
Report it right away so that they can be removed and taken away from your home and the community. And in the worst case scenario, if you are bitten do not panic! The less panicked you are the slower the venom will move throughout your body, and call 911 or get to a hospital as fast and calmly as possible.
I know this will be hard at the time but if you do get bit step away and if possible get a good look at the snake make sure it is a rattlesnake. There are different species of snake and therefore different anti-venoms, it will be highly important to the physician treating you.
Finally, there are so many myths out there regarding rattlesnakes and their venom. Do not try to make small cuts in and around the bite or suck out the venom this will not help. Stay calm and get to a hospital as soon as you can, remember have someone take you. Snake venom affects everybody differently, so bring a friend or neighbor along. Rattlesnakes’ main use for their venom is catching food; they would rather bite a rat or mouse than you.
As we grow in population and homes are put up and we encroach into native areas more and more, then our communities provide everything animals and snakes need. We can still live together in peace, enjoying their natural beauty and benefiting from their ability to help control rodents.