Did you know that from April through October, rattlesnakes can be found anywhere from hiking trails to city streets? There are 13 different types of rattlesnakes slithering throughout Arizona, so it’s important for everyone to know what to do when crossing paths with a snake. While snakes aren’t looking to cause trouble, people still must use extreme caution when they come across a rattlesnake. A snakebite has enough venom to cause serious injury or even death. Most snakebite victims have to spend at least two to three days in a hospital and spend weeks rehabilitating the area around the bite in order to regain full range of motion and muscle functionality.
Valley fire departments offer these tips for making your property less hospitable to snakes:
-Eliminate rodents (a snake’s preferred food) from around your home.
-Remove wood piles and junk from your yard to eliminate potential homes for snakes and their prey.
-Walls deter snakes from entering your yard. Solid walls 4 feet high with a four-inch lip angling outward will discourage most snakes. Sink the bottom of the wall well into the ground.
-Install gates snugly against the ground.
-Keep walkways clear of brush.
-Light pathways around your home.
Tips to keep safe when rattlesnake activity is at its peak:
-Stay on the trails. Rattlesnakes are more likely to be found in places with better opportunity to hunt, hide, and stay out of trouble.
-Be aware of your surroundings. Watch your step. Texting while walking has resulted in at least one bite that we know of, and head phones will keep the natural warning system from working.
-If you have a dog, keep it on a leash. Have the dog vaccinated for rattlesnake bites, and have it trained if it’s available in your area.
-If you encounter a snake, take a step (or two or three!) back. Snakes can only strike at a distance of one-third of their full body length, thus a three-foot snake has an effective strike range of 12 inches. The average human stride is 36 inches, so a step back will quickly put you out of harms way. If those seem to be obvious, it’s because they absolutely are. Rattlesnakes are simply not a threat to those who don’t go looking for it. Staying safe is just a matter of knowing better, and if you didn’t before, now you do.
For more information or to speak to a snakebite expert, call the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center’s free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-222-1222.