Canyon Lake is home to several types of snakes including Red Racers, Kings, Gopher and the potentially deadly Rattlesnake.
Remember, rattlesnakes will make every effort to avoid human contact. Most encounters are the result of the snake’s prey wandering into residential yards. As a result the snake usually loses its life.
According to representatives from Animal Friends of the Valleys, Canyon Lake is a special draw to the snakes due to the lake, lush foliage and abundance of small animals (specifically mice and rabbits) that are food for the snakes. Rattlesnakes can be found in rock piles, wood piles, shade area when the temperatures are extreme and sunning themselves on warm roads or concrete.
The key is awareness. Residents need to be vigilant, especially those with children. All snakes, for protection, usually follow a solid surface such as block walls, curbs and the foundations around homes. Snake proofing is key in stopping these encounters:
- Remove all piled rocks, wood and debris.
- Apply one-fourth-inch mesh or smaller wire around areas snakes can hide under such as spas, barbecues and yard ornaments.
- Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see. Do not turn rocks or wood over with bare hands; use a tool.
- Avoid wandering in the dark.
- Be careful when stepping over doorsteps or up and down stairs.
- If you spot a rattlesnake, keep an eye on it and call AFV at 674-0618 during business hours, or 506-5069 after hours.
Though uncommon, rattlesnake bites do occur. Unlike the movies, most are not fatal.
The first thing to do is stay calm. Generally, the most serious effect of a bite on an adult is local tissue damage which needs to be treated.
Children, because of their size, can be more serious. Do not ice the bite area. Do not attempt to suck out the venom. Do not apply a tourniquet or elevate the bite area.
The California Poison Control Center advises:
- Stay calm.
- Wash the bite area gently with soap and water.
- Remove watches, rings, etc, which may constrict swelling.
- Immobilize the affected area.
- Transport safely to the nearest medical facility. If possible have someone drive while you call 9-1-1.
The rattlesnake’s role in the food chain far outweighs its potential danger to human wellbeing. In fact, rodent-borne diseases are probably controlled to a great extent by rattlesnakes and other predators. Offer them respect, observe them from a distance, then leave them to perform their valuable ecological function. Remember we moved in on their territory.
AFV would like to make pet owners aware there is now a rattlesnake vaccine available for pets. A veterinarian can administer the vaccine or AFV offers it for $12 at its low-cost vaccination clinic on the third Saturday of every month, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., at the Lake Elsinore City Park on Main St. in Lake Elsinore.
For more information on snake bites, research the California Poison Control Website.