Rattlesnakes are California’s only native venomous snake and play an important role in the ecosystem by eating small rodents and other reptiles and providing food for other predators.
Typically, rattlesnakes are most active during the spring and summer months. If you encounter a rattlesnake DO NOT threaten or harass it. Rattlesnakes strike when threatened or deliberately provoked but will retreat when given the opportunity.
Don’t attempt to move or pick up a snake of any kind. Rattlesnakes could be missing their characteristic rattles, so don’t assume it’s another, non-venomous snake. And even baby rattlesnakes are venomous.
Rattlesnake Safety Tips
- Watch your step and avoid tall grass and heavy underbrush; wear long loose-fitting pants and hiking boots.
- If you see a rattlesnake, back away and give the snake the right of way. Take an alternate route or go back rather than try to go around the snake.
- Stay at least six feet away from a rattlesnake.
- Don’t assume a snake isn’t poisonous if it doesn’t rattle. Rattlesnakes sometimes strike silently.
- Keep dogs on leash and under control.
- Carry a cell phone and hike or bike with a companion when possible.
If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, stay calm and seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
For more information, see the following links:
Marin Independent Journal, July 9, 2012 – “Huge leap in the number of rattlesnake bites in California this spring”
Department of Fish and Game – Rattlesnakes in California
California Poison Control – Northern Pacific Rattlesnake