Warm days bring out snakes — so be on the lookout – Redlands Daily Facts

Southern Californians aren’t the only ones ready to get out in the sun and shed a few layers of their winter coats.

Spring brings out snakes from hibernation and onto hiking trails and into view in parks and, in some cases, backyards.

So it is time to be on the lookout, to keep you and them safe.

Native snakes, found from the coast to the deserts, are mostly harmless. Sightings can happen year round but are most commonplace from March to July, said Ian Recchio, curator of reptiles at the LA Zoo, with snakes coming out in the daytime to raise their body temperature.

“If you can walk outside and feel good, then it probably feels good for snakes too,” Recchio said. “If it’s really hot outside, the snakes aren’t going to want to be in that heat, either.”

There are several types of venomous rattlesnakes that live in Southern California, including the southern pacific, the red diamond and the southwestern speckled rattlesnake. One to five feet long, they are various colors and have triangular-shaped heads.

Meanwhile, gopher snakes (which can mimic the scary rattling sound), the sizable California kingsnakes, ring-necked snakes and garter snakes — while they may take a bite at you if threatened, the worst you will suffer is a puncture wound and possible infection .

Generally, snakes are not aggressive and will likely retreat if given room.

“A lot of people get bit while trying to mess with snakes — ironically, some that are trying to kill the snakes,” Recchio said. “Even if a snake is dead, it could still have some nervous system activity to bite.”

When hiking, be sure to wear boots that rise high on your ankles. Check where you are about to sit. Avoid walking through and under brush and tall weeds.

An estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year, according to the Center for Disease Control. About five die.

In California, there are around 300 bites a year, said Tim Daly, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Of course, it’s not always clear what type of snake bit you.

If possible, Recchio recommends taking a picture of the snake for a health professional to identify. Remove watches, rings or jewelry that might constrict swelling brought on by venom. Head to a hospital immediately.

A tourniquet should not be applied, nor ice on the wound, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. And unlike how its often portrayed in films, do not attempt to cut the wound open or suck out the venom.

If a pet is bit by a snake, seek out a veterinarian immediately: Many carry rattlesnake anti-venom and vaccines for dogs and other pets.

To keep snakes out of yards, secure wire mesh fencing around your property. Cut off their food source by ensuring your yard is tidy. Clutter lures rodents — snakes like to eat rodents.

Despite their sometimes-unwanted intrusion, Recchio said, snakes have their role.

“Without rattlesnakes, there would be a major imbalance with a population explosion of rodents, carrying diseases,” Recchio said. “They are the champion rodent eaters.”

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