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Rattlesnakes emerge as temperatures heighten; Riverside County Department of Animal Services encourages caution


Last updated 4/7/2018 at 4:39pm

Officer Tiffany Fuller, Riverside County Department of Animal Services

Courtesy photo

Temperatures have been warming up in Southern California, enticing people to hike, jog and do yard work, but they've also brought out one pesky critter the Riverside County Department of Animal services says you should be cautious of: The Rattlesnake.

"With warmer weather right around the corner, many species of snakes will be coming out of their burrows, and even though most are harmless, it is important for Californians to be able to identify a venomous rattlesnake," Riverside County Department of Animal Services Spokesman John Welsh said in a news release. "A rattlesnake bite has the potential to cause severe injury, and possibly death, so taking precautions will help reduce the risk of being bitten."

Welsh said there have been several calls to his department from throughout Riverside County after residents have discovered rattlesnakes on their properties. He said one homeowner in the Cabazon area discovered three of the snakes outside his or her home. Homeowners have also encountered snakes near Corona, Indio and Cathedral City.

So what should people keep in mind to keep themselves safe from a rattlesnake bite? The California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends being alert and also having a sense of where a rattlesnake could be at a particular time of day. After a cold night, the snakes will try to raise their body temperatures by laying out in the sun around mid-morning. To prevent overheating during the day, they may be more active at dusk, dawn and nighttime hours.

The news release says it's important to wear sturdy boots and loose-fitting long pants and never walk barefoot or with flip flops in wild, bushy areas. Startled rattlesnakes may not make noise before striking to protect themselves.

When hiking, people should stick to well-used trails; avoid tall grasses, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day; and should always step on objects like logs and rocks and never over them.

People with dogs should keep them leashed while walking through wild areas and should pay close attention to them. Dogs are at increased risk of getting bitten because they hold their nose low to the ground while investigating the outdoors. Officials say dog owners should speak with the their veterinarian about canine rattlesnake vaccines and what to do if their pet is bitten.

Here are some other tips:

-Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.

-Never grab "sticks" or "branches" while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.

-Be careful when stepping over doorsteps as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are --protected on one side.

-Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.

-Do not handle a freshly killed snake, as it can still inject venom.

-Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone.

More information can be found by visiting the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's website at:


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