FREMONT (CBS SF) — Any experienced hiker of the Bay Area hills knows that rattlesnakes are like bears — they hibernate in the winter and come back out in the spring.
On Sunday, a hiker on Mt. Tam in Marin County got too close to a rattler and was bitten several times.
The California Highway Patrol said that at approximately 2:15 p.m. one of its helicopters responded to assist with a reported rattlesnake bite. Marin County Fire Department arrived on scene and found a hiker with multiple bites. The CHP H-30 landed and transported the hiker to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek.
The hiker’s condition was not known.
Across the Bay, hikers on Mission Peak in Fremont were also on the lookout for rattlers. Amanda Cortez told KPIX 5 she was warned about a rattlesnake sighting during her hike on Sunday.
“There was a snake coming on down (the hillside),” Cortez said. “We weren’t far from it.”
Worry quickly replaced the tranquility of the day as Cortez feared her dog would try to confront the snake.
“(I was) worried about my dog because she’s never seen one,” she said. “I just thought I’m going to walk up this trail. It should be fine, so yeah, it was a little worrisome.”
The East Bay Regional Park Service has put up signs at the trail heads, warning hikers to beware of rattlers.
“They slither across the trail, but sometimes you hear them just on the side,” said veteran hiker Kim Baggy. “I always worry about the little kids that are on the trail on their bikes because they’re riding along. They’re not going to stop in time.”
Dave Allen owns ‘Got Snakes’ and catches rattlesnakes for a living. He said the only species of rattler in the Bay Area is the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake.
“Rattlesnakes are far more common than people think,” Allen said. “They’re one of the most common snakes that we have in the Bay Area.”
Allen says rattlesnakes will generally try to stay away from people, but when you hear their trademark rattle, it means they feel threatened and may be ready to strike.
“The rattling, that’s just an indication that you’re too close,” he said.
Allen warned hikers that if they do come across a rattler, they should just give it some space.
“It’s all about respect. Respect the snake, the snake will respect you,” he said. “Give each other space, and there shouldn’t be any problems.”