As Temperatures Increase, Northern California’s Rattlesnakes Awaken

WALNUT CREEK (KCBS)— California’s only native venomous snake can be dangerous if provoked and as temperatures in some northern parts of the state increase, rattlesnakes come out of hibernation.

While most snakes are benign, Wildlife Rehabilitation Director at the Lindsey Museum in Walnut Creek Susan Heckley said enjoying the outdoors in California means learning how to avoid contact with rattlesnakes.

“The best thing to do is stop your approach, back up slowly and go around the area. Rattlesnakes are pretty good about warning us,” Heckley explained.

She offered some other suggestions to reduce the likelihood of startling the creatures and getting hurt. Going barefoot in wild areas is a don’t, wear sandals she said. Step on logs and rocks never over them. Baby rattlers can be harmful too.

“The babies really aren’t more dangerous because they don’t have as much venom, but they can’t control that and aren’t likely to do a dry strike,” Heckley said.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

If you do get bitten she said it’s important to remain calm.

“That’s obviously pretty hard to do when you’ve been bitten by a rattlesnake, but remain calm and call 911,” she said.

Next, you’ll need to get to a place where anti-venom medicine can be administered. The California Poison control center says rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites each year with one or two human deaths.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Margie Shafer

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