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It's rattlesnake season in San Diego, here's what you should know

One rattlesnake found in La Jolla in 2015
Photo credit:
sandiegouniontribune.com

As April approaches and people get up and out of their dens, so too do the rattlesnakes.

An interaction with one is rarely deadly, but can cause serious injury.

There are more reports of bites between the months of April and October; an estimated 800 cases each year.

"They are not out there stalking people or stalking pets," said San Diego County Animal Service Deputy Director Daniel DeSousa. "If a rattlesnake bites, it's a last resort. If you're not leaving him alone, he'll strike out just to get you to leave."

According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) rattlesnakes do not attack humans unless they are startled or provoked. Also, they can only strike from a coiled position.

Be careful around logs and piles of rocks. Also, be sure to shake out your sleeping bag before you retire for the night.

When threatened, the snake will take a defensive position and use its rattle as a warning. Normally though, they blend in with their surroundings and escape unnoticed.

If you’re taking an evening stroll under the stars, you should also be aware that rattlesnakes can be active after the sun goes down.

They have specialized heat sensing organs which enable them to “see” in pitch black conditions because the signature of their prey is warmer than the surrounding landscape.

"They are territorial," DeSousa told 10 News in an interview. "They have, depending on their food source, a limit of how far they'll go to find food. But if you remove that food source, the snake has no alternative but to move."

If you are bitten The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) says that it is very important that everyone stay calm.

Normally the result of the bite is most damaging to the surrounding tissue area. This effect is more dangerous to children.

If a bite does occur here is what the California Poison Control 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

For more first aid information please visit  California Poison Control.