Rattlesnake encounters are always a hazard of desert living, but this year has seen a slight increase in rattlesnake activity, with the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center already recording 146 bites at the end of July. Baby rattlers are notoriously the most dangerous, since they are difficult to see and haven’t yet developed a rattle to warn potential victims. With birth season peaking in July and August, now is the time to exercise heightened caution.
The Western Diamondback, easily recognized by its distinct geometric pattern, is by far the most common Arizona creeper. While it can be thrilling to see these critters in the wild, or even in our own backyards, it is also important to keep in mind some snake safety tips.
Prevention and Precaution
- Always hike with a buddy.
- Avoid wearing open-toed shoes, especially when walking in parks and open spaces.
- Carefully examine anywhere you are about to step, sit, or reach.
- If you see a snake, but are not within striking range, slowly and carefully go in the other direction.
- If you’re within striking range, it is best to freeze and wait for the snake to move away. At all costs, avoid sudden movements.
- Arizona snakes are most active from April through October. During the hottest months, they are most commonly seen at night.
- Immediately seek medical attention at the nearest hospital or call 911.
- Do NOT apply ice, tourniquets, or make incisions around the bite.
- You should NOT try to catch the snake. It is a myth that doctors need the snake in order to provide the antivenom, since all rattlesnake bites receive the same treatment.
For more information on snake safety, visit the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center online or call them at (800) 222-1222.