This push, along with cooler nights, means that snakes will begin moving more during daylight, increasing the number of snake sightings.
- Choosing to attempt to move or harm a snake instead of just leaving it alone increases risk of a bite greatly.
- A snake that has been harassed and is agitated will almost certainly release more venom than a snake that has simply been surprised. More venom = more negative impact to the patient.
- A snake that has been left for dead can still have a bite reflex hours after death. That means any pet, child or curious adult could be envenomated when they attempt investigate or handle the deceased snake.
This is why killing snakes is not only inhumane, it is also exceptionally dangerous not only to the person killing the snake but also to the hundreds of pets, kids and people that will pass the dead snake after the visitor who killed the snake is long gone.
- Finally, it is against Park Regulations to kill wildlife, including snakes:
C.9. Wildlife Protection: It shall be unlawful for any person, or any pet under their custody, control or ownership, to harass, chase, harm, capture, kill, maim or possess any wildlife including, but not limited to, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish on Open Space Lands. Fine: $300.00
- Meanwhile, venomous snakes are contributing to saving our lives by being alive.
- Snakes provide valuable ecosystem services by eating wildlife we consider pests, like spiders, crickets, voles, and mice.
- Venomous animals, including rattlesnakes, also contribute our health and survival by providing us with medicine. Here’s a recent article about Colorado’s very own venom researcher, Dr. Stephen Mackessy.
What should you do if you encounter a rattlesnake on a trail?
- Use the Jefferson County 30/30 rule:
- Walk 30 feet away from the snake and give it 30 seconds to leave the trail. NEVER attempt to move or harm a rattlesnake. Give snakes space and time to move away from you.
- If it does not move, carefully walk around it, giving the snake at least four feet of clearance.
What should you do if you are bitten by a rattlesnake?
- Call 911
- Remain calm
- Sit down and keep the bitten area at or below the level of your heart
- Do not attempt to drive yourself to a medical facility
- Remove rings, bracelets or other items that could restrict blood flow with severe swelling
- Record the time the bite occurred and monitor for severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing.
- DO NOT: cut skin, suck puncture wounds, apply a tourniquet, apply ice or water or use a venom extraction kit
How should you protect your dog?
- Keep your dog on a leash
- Keep them on the trail
- If your dog is bitten by a Rattlesnake:
- Immediately transport to a veterinary medical facility
- Call ahead and ensure the veterinarian is prepared for a snake bite emergency
- If possible, carry your pet to reduce activity and the overall effect of venom