Hiking

SoCal Wil See More Rattlesnakes This Year. Here's What to Do to Stay Safe

Sam DiGiovana of the Verdugo Fire Academy says each year, between 7,000 and 8,000 people are bitten by rattlesnakes.

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This year’s rattlesnake season is already ramping up thanks to all the rain Southern California received in the past few months.

As mice and other rodents flourish in rainy weather, there are more food sources for rattlesnakes to hunt. It also means there’s heavier vegetation that will make it harder for humans to spot the venomous reptiles slithering around local hiking trails as well as backyards.

“I don’t think you can avoid [rattlesnakes] but you can take precautionary steps to eliminate that chance,” explained Chief Sam DiGiovana of the Verdugo Fire Academy.

The safety expert offers tips on how to stay safe during rattlesnake season.

How to reduce the likelihood of encountering a rattlesnake

  • When walking, biking, or golfing, stay on the path and avoid thick vegetation.
  • When walking or running along hiking trails, do not have earbuds in or listen to music. Rattlesnakes may rattle as a warning. Hikers should be ready to look out for the rattling sound.

How to keep rattlesnakes off homes and properties

  • Keep properties clear of wood, rock, and debris piles where snakes love to make dens.
  • Seal all gaps and openings to prevent snakes from gaining access.
  • Trim tree shrubs up to 6 inches off the ground
  • In foothill areas, keep garage doors closed, so snakes do not sneak in!

What to do when you come across a rattlesnake

  • Freeze! Hold still and slowly back up. Giving space is crucial as snakes are likely just passing through.
  • Be sure not to startle them. Rattlesnakes will strike if agitated. They can strike one foot per second, which means a 4-feet snake can lunge at objects within 2 feet.

What if you get bitten by a rattlesnake?

  • Stay calm. The more your panic, the faster your heart beats, which would make the venom move faster through your body.
  • If your pet gets bitten, take your animal to the vet ASAP.
  • For humans, it’s rare for the rattlesnake venom to cause death. But they can cause nerve damage, so it’s important to seek medical care as soon as possible.
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