The sun is shining, the temperature is climbing, and it’s the perfect day on the trail. Rattlesnakes think so, too. It’s that time of year again, when rattlesnakes emerge from their hiding places in search of food. It’s not uncommon to find them stretched out across the trail.
“We are seeing a lot of them right now,” said Senior County Park Ranger Patty Heyden.
“When you get rain and a lot of grasses and seeds, you’re going to get a lot of rodents and rabbits and things the rattlesnakes like to eat. The more prey there is, the more predators.”
It’s also the time of year when rattlesnake babies are born, and the young ones are less sophisticated about their use of venom. Adults will save it for prey; babies will splurge on a bite.
Hikers and park visitors are more likely to see rattlesnakes when the day is getting warmer. But when it gets too hot, snakes retreat into cool spots. Avoiding an encounter with a rattlesnake simply requires using common sense and keeping in mind these tips:
- If you see a rattlesnake on the trail, back away from it.
- Be sure to see where you’re putting your hands and feet. Don’t reach into shaded crevices or step in between rocks. Walk in the center of the trail if there is brush or grasses hanging over the sides.
- Wear boots or gators to protect your lower legs.
- If bitten, stay calm and seek medical attention. Try to remember the type of snake that bit you so doctors can treat you accordingly.
While rattlesnakes can be frightening, they should not be harmed. They are an important part of the ecosystem and control the population of rodents.