Monday, July 06, 2015 • 04:29

Warm weather reminds us to be careful when dealing with snakes

California has a variety of snakes, most of which are benign. The exception is California's only native venomous snake — the rattlesnake. photo by California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
July 01, 2015
Recent warm days in Valley Center and all around San Diego County area is a sure sign that summer is at our doorstep. There may be a few other things at our doorsteps.

The warm weather has awakened our snake community and as they explore their surroundings, the local human population's concerns for safety have started the 2015 "snake sightings" and the concerns.

California has a variety of snakes, most of which are benign. The exception is California's only native venomous snake — the rattlesnake.

Should you have a close encounter with a snake, do not panic, back away. Should you feel trapped or threatened by the snake, call 911 and explain the situation and ask for help. Stay in a safe location until help arrives.

When the temperature begins to warm, usually between April and May, snakes come out of hibernation. Their young are usually born between August and October.

The young rattlesnake is dangerous from birth. As they are unable to make a rattling sound, the youngsters throw themselves into a defensive pose and strike repeatedly when disturbed. The rattlesnake eats lizards and small rodents.Their only prey is prey they can swallow whole; therefore, they will not intentionally hunt and strike a large animal — including humans — unless they feel threatened.

Be Careful in Snake Country

When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. 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. Always avoid walking through dense brush or willow thickets.

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.

What to Do In The Event Of a Snake Bite

Although uncommon, rattlesnake bites do occur. The first thing to do if bitten is to stay calm. Generally, the most serious effect of a rattlesnake bite to an adult is local tissue damage which needs to be treated.

Children, because they are smaller, are in more danger if they are bitten.

Get to a doctor as soon as possible, but stay calm. Frantic, high-speed driving places the victim at greater risk of an accident and increased heart rate.

If the doctor is more than 30 minutes away, elevate the bite and then try to get to the doctor as quickly as possible.

Snakebite first aid:

• Wash bite with clean water and soap.

• Immobilize the area and keep at/below the level of the heart.

• If the bite is on the hand or arm, remove any rings, watches or tight clothing.

• Get medical help immediately!!

• If possible, identify the snake (note colors and markings).

• Do not attempt to catch the snake, or bring it live to the medical care facility!

Do not:

• Apply ice.

• Apply any tourniquets (constricting bands).

• Use any electric shock to the wound.

• Use any suction to wound.

• (Backpackers to areas far removed from any medical care facility may be advised to use suction, but it is not used in an area that has medical care readily available).

• The area Trauma Centers are well-stocked with anti-venom and trained to handle rattlesnake bites.

Always call 911 and keep the victim quiet and calm.

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