- Prairie Rattlesnakes were found within and using nearly all habitat types at NTM.
- We identified three main overwintering Prairie Rattlesnake denning areas next to and near trails.
- Ten species of reptiles and amphibians were recorded in the park.
- Park visitors would benefit from clear tips on Prairie Rattlesnake bite first aid.
- 73% of those surveyed indicated they have seen a Prairie Rattlesnake, yet only 4.2% reported any conflict.
- Our project had a profound effect on Colorado residents and beyond via coverage from news media, social media and online sources. This effect will continue to relay its impact well into 2018 as we discuss results with media, provide more presentations, and publish popular articles.
So, what should you do if you encounter a rattlesnake on the trail? Give them time and space to leave the trail on their own. Our project partners at Jefferson County Open Space suggest using their “30/30 rule” – and we support this! Give the snake at least 30 seconds (or more) to leave the area, and about 30 feet (i.e. a lot of space) to get away. Why this works: Rattlesnakes, when startled, may hold their ground rather than quickly darting away. Their defensive posture is like a coiled spring ready to defend itself from potential predators, of which you may look like one to a rattlesnake.
Why shouldn’t you use a venom extractor? – They don’t really work. Why shouldn’t you apply a tourniquet or cool with ice? - That concentrates the locality of the venom and causes more problems in area of the bite. Why shouldn’t you use marijuana or drink alcohol? – C’mon, you’re smarter than that.
How should you protect your dog? Keep your dog on a leash when in rattlesnake habitat; it’s an easy way to control your dog by keeping it in areas where you can see (i.e. away from under rocks, bases of shrubs, or clumps of grasses). If your dog gets bitten, pick it up if possible and rush it to a veterinarian. NOTE: Not all vets carry anti-venom, so call ahead to know where to take your furry loved one.
2018 Rattlesnake research in Jefferson County
North Table Mountain – We are wrapping up our project on North Table right now! We’re in the process of collecting all of our research snakes and removing their transmitters before their batteries stop working. It’s been fun recapturing and visiting with our former project partners! Thank you for following our 2017 work and asking so many great questions! The questions help us structure our public presentations and educational materials, so please keep them coming.
Jefferson County Open Space is working hard to provide more recreation opportunities. We will be surveying proposed trail routes and parking areas to look for and track rattlesnakes using these habitats. Our partners at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory also want to make their campus as safe as possible, and so we’ll be tracking snakes near this area too. Ideally, we all want to maximize safe recreation and protect wildlife at this Open Space.
We want to hear from you and your rattlesnake questions! Along with our JCOS partners, we will continue to ask trailside questions and offer various opportunities in the field. We want everyone to be rattlesnake experts and be safe in the field!
Have a question now? Please leave a comment for us, or visit us on the social medias!
Joe, Bryon, Ryan, and Kelly – AES Rattlesnake Research Leaders
*Photos by NoCoastPhotography