You know spring is really here when the rattlesnakes start sunning themselves on the trails.
CRONAN RANCH -
Two hikers with their off-leash dogs reported a 30" rattlesnake today while walking on the trail in the wooded area close to the equestrian parking lot at Cronan Ranch. The snake was about one to two feet off the trail and was coiled and rattling. After the hikers threw a rock at him, the snake quit rattling, uncoiled and left.
It was very lucky that the dogs happened to be following the hikers in this situation. Had they been running in front, most likely they would have been bitten.
KEEP YOUR DOGS LEASHED TO BE SAFE FROM RATTLESNAKES! And, there is an effective rattlesnake vaccine at your vets, as well as snake avoidance clinics for your dogs.
Our local native rattlesnake for this area is the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus or Crotalus viridis oreganus). All sizes of rattlesnakes are poisonous, even the babies just born. They are normally not aggressive, but are very defensive. Rattlesnakes can strike up to half of their own body length, so be careful! 1,000 to 2,000 people per year are bitten by rattlesnakes and fewer than 12 victims die as a result. Approximately 1/3rd of bites from rattlesnakes do not contain venom.
To see what these Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes look like CLICK HERE To quickly tell if it is a rattlesnake: rattlesnakes are thick bodied, can grow up to five feet long, their heads are larger than their bodies, and look for the rattle.
Rattlesnakes are part of the California King Snake's diet because they are highly tolerant to the venom of rattlesnakes. If you are lucky enough to see a shy California King, LEAVE IT ALONE! The more California Kings we have, the fewer rattlesnakes! Go here to see pictures and more information on the beautiful California King Snake CLICK HERE
When temperatures begin to warm, they remain near their hibernation den entrance for a few days, sunning themselves, then make their way to where they will spend the summer. They rarely go more than a mile from their dens. Consequently, more snakes are seen in the spring and fall migrations to and from their winter dens.
Some helpful hints in avoiding rattlesnake bites:
Strikes against humans, dogs or horses are universally defensive, so awareness and staying out of the snake's way are the best defense. The commonly accepted striking distance for rattlesnakes is from 1/3 to 1/2 of their body length. It is best to stay much farther away from them whenever possible. A good resource for snakebite may be found at the CALIFORNIA POISON ACTION LINE website. You also can call them (and program into your cell phone) at 1-800-222-1222.
Rattlesnakes are more active when temperatures are between 65 and 90 degrees, when colder or hotter, they tend to be more quiet. Some rattlesnakes don't rattle!
Stay in the center of the trail. Rattlesnakes frequently like to be in the grass or brush at the side of trails after they have sunned themselves on the trail.
If you are hiking, wear high thick leather boots.
Keep your dogs close. This is especially a good time to leash your pets (a law in the State and County Parks). There is a canine snake vaccine - ask your vet.
Mt. bikers beware. No matter how fast or slow you are going, rattlesnakes can strike faster than the human eye can follow.
Equestrians have a saying - the second horse in the string gets the strike - the first horse just gets it mad. Some horses have no inkling that snakes are dangerous, other horses are very snake adverse. Regardless, wait for the snake to leave the trail. Then wait for a few more minutes before continuing down the trail so your horse isn't within striking distance.
If you or your pet are bitten, seek immediate medical attention.