With warm weather finally here - and Sacramento area residents planning hiking, camping or hunting trips - animal hospitals and wildlife agencies are cautioning that it’s also the time of year when rattlesnakes come out.
Animal hospitals suggest vaccinations for pets, and at least one rattlesnake wrangler is saying the venomous snakes may be more numerous this year.
"This is going to be a huge year for rattlesnakes with the amount of rain that we got,” Lou Fraser, whose company Rattlensnake Removal USA gets rid of the critters, told Sacramento’s abc10.com news station. He’s already been called out to Rocklin to remove a snake.
Rattlesnakes generally hibernate in Northern California’s winter weather, but in Southern California’s warmer winter conditions, rattlesnakes can be active year round. Near Sacramento, they tend to be active from March to September.
Generally not aggressive, rattlesnakes strike when threatened or deliberately provoked, but given room they will retreat, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife . Most snake bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing. The majority of snakebites occur on the hands, feet and ankles.
Snake country do’s and don’t
- Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. Wear hiking boots.
- When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. 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. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
- Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
- Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.
- Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
- Do not handle a freshly killed snake, it can still inject venom.
- Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone. Children are naturally curious and will pick up snakes.