When the weather heats up, rattlesnakes in Southern California come out. April and May are the most active months; however, Animal Friends of the Valleys (AFV) say they’ve had an increase in the number of snake reports for the month of March.
AFV Board of Directors President Tammi Boyd said, “We are starting to get a lot of calls on snakes and we are a month early for these calls. We already have a human bit and three dog reports.”
The most prevalent species in the Inland valleys of Riverside are the red diamond, Southern Pacific and speckled rattlesnakes. The Southern Pacific rattlesnake is the most venomous California rattlesnake, with those in Riverside Country carrying an especially potent venom. These snakes are most prominent in coastal ranges and mountain foothills.
According to representatives from AFV, Canyon Lake is a special draw to the snakes due to the lake, foliage and abundance of small animals that are food for the snakes.
Rattlesnakes can be found in rock piles, wood piles, shade area and sunning on roads and concrete. Residents need to be vigilant, especially those with children. The key in stopping these encounters is snake proofing. Residents are advised to:
- Remove rock piles, wood and debris.
- Not step or put hands where you can not see.
- Apply wire around areas where snakes can hide under such as spas and yard ornaments.
- Avoid wandering in the dark.
Dr. Sean Bush, an internationally known snake expert, provided the following tips for avoiding snake bites:
- Leave a rattlesnake alone. It can lunge farther to strike that one might think.
- Don’t try to kill it. That’s how many people get bitten.
- Don’t try to handle a rattlesnake, even if it appears to be dead. Fangs can still inject venom. People have been killed by snakes they thought were dead.
Hikers are warned to be extra cautious during rattlesnake season. Rattlesnakes are more likely to be found on hiking trails and sunning in rural areas. Even baby rattlesnakes can possess dangerous venom as soon as they hatch.
Hikers are advised to wear boots and long pants, stay on trials and away from underbrush and tall weeds, carefully inspect rocks and logs before sitting on them and never hike alone in remote areas.
Experts advise parents to teach their children to respect snakes and leave them alone. Dr. Cyrus Rangan, assistant medical director for the Center of Poison Control System, said “Children are naturally curious, and may look into open pipes or under rocks, and kick brush and bushes were snakes may sometimes lie quietly. Remember that rattlesnakes do not always make a rattling sound, so someone can be standing next to a rattlesnake and not even know it. Children should be carefully supervised outside, especially in wooded and desert areas where snakes tend to live.”
Dr. Rangan said the symptoms of a rattlesnake bite may include extreme pain and swelling at the location of the bite; excessive bleeding; nausea; swelling in the mouth and throat making it difficult to breathe; lightheadedness; drooling; and even collapse and shock in rare cases.
If a snake bites, stay calm and seek medical care immediately. Do not apply ice or a tourniquet. Do not try to suck out the venom, take aspirin or ibuprofen or try home remedies.
AFV will remove snakes from yards, garages and home. During business hours call 951-674-0681. For after hour emergencies call 951-506-5069.