What do I mean?
Lots of animals enjoy warmer weather and like to take advantage of the sun just like we do, and this includes the Prairie Rattlesnake. Reminder, the Prairie Rattlesnake is the only dangerously venomous snake to live along the Colorado Front Range. So while rattlesnakes can seem scary and dangerous, it’s important to remember that they prefer to not be seen and heard…and only make themselves known when they feel threatened.
It may seem like all of a sudden more and more rattlesnakes are being seen everywhere. This is partially true, since Prairie Rattlesnakes are starting to emerge from their winter dens and will be doing so starting now and into the next 4 weeks. They like to hang out on trails and rocks since these surfaces tend to retain more heat compared to other surfaces. Because of this, don’t be alarmed if you see a snake hanging out on a trail. The best thing to do, always, is to leave it alone and allow it to move on. If you need to get around, leave at least four feet between you and the snake and be cautious of other snakes that make be in the area.
With summer comes more research opportunities!
This summer, we are partnering with NREL to provide high quality snake handling training, similar to what a zoo keeper staff would have, so snakes that are found near buildings and walkways can be handled safely.
We are wrapping up our research with JCOS on South Table Mountain (STM) this summer. Last summer and early fall, we captured rattlesnakes and sent them to VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital to surgically implant radio transmitters. This allowed us to track movements and find any winter dens to help preserve and protect those areas. Knowing where rattlesnakes hibernate and prefer to hang out is important information that JCOS can use when planning for potential areas for various park amenities such as parking lots, trail connections and trailheads. We also used these opportunities to educate the public by talking to people we encountered out in the field. This summer we will be recapturing snakes that have transmitters to remove them and after this is done, the snakes will be relocated back to STM. VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital is partnering with us to perform the surgeries.
Thank you to our volunteers and partners who made this project possible!
Here are some tips for avoiding any sort of rattlesnake conflict and what to do if you or your pet gets bit.
Reduce your risk of human/snake conflict
- wearing closed-toe shoes
- watch where you place your hands and feet especially in woody and rocky areas
- stay on trails
- keep your dog on a leash
Prairie Rattlesnake First AID:
- Remain calm and call 911
- Find a safe place and sit down
- Keep bitten area at or below heart level
- Remove any rings, bracelets or other items that may restrict blood flow to the bitten area
- Record time of bite and monitor for any severe symptoms
- DO NOT: suck out the venom, apply a tourniquet cut the wound, apply ice or imerge wound in water, attempt to drive yourself to a medical facility
If your pet is bitten:
- Immediately transfer your dog to a veterinary medical facility
- If possible call ahead to ensure the vet is prepared for a snake bit and if not, where to transport your pet
- If possible, carry your pet to reduce activity and overall effect of venom