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SD Residents Urged to Look Out for Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnake season has arrived, and California residents should take steps to avoid getting bitten as severe reactions are becoming more common, a UC San Diego doctor cautioned today.

Most rattlesnake bites occur between April and October, with the greatest number in May, according to the California Poison Control System.

"Over the past couple of years we have seen an increase in powerful snake bites and patient reactions to the bites have become more severe," said Dr. Richard Clark, executive medical director for the CPCS and director of UCSD's Division of Medical Toxicology.

"It is important for Californians to take extra precautions as they start to head outside, particularly with children and pets as their natural curiosity could create a deadly encounter with a rattlesnake," he said.

A rattlesnake bite can produce swelling and bruising and can be fatal, especially in children and pets, according to the CPCS.

The CPCS receives nearly 300 calls each year about rattlesnake bites. There were 41 snake bites in San Diego reported to the CPCS last year.

To avoid rattlesnake bites, the CPCS recommends:

-- keeping children and pets close by when outdoors;

-- wearing boots or covered footwear when walking through wild areas;

-- staying on trails when hiking, and looking where you step;

-- not picking up or disturbing snakes, even if it appears dead; and

-- not reaching into holes, bushes or anywhere that is hidden.

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Avatar for user 'Skot Norton'

Skot Norton, KPBS Staff | May 7, 2009 at 2:47 p.m. ― 7 years, 7 months ago

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Avatar for user 'wings42'

wings42 | May 11, 2009 at 3:53 p.m. ― 7 years, 7 months ago

Rattlers can bite through most boots and shoes. The rest is common sense. I read somewhere that 80% of rattlesnake bite happen to people trying to handle the snakes.

In Sierra Club training, we also learned to stay on trails and look where we step or reach. In thousands of hours hiking and running in the chaparral, usually with our dogs, the only time I was warned by a frightened rattlesnake was when I stupidly walked over dried grass to cut over to another trail. Otherwise, I've seen rattlesnakes but they never threatened me or my dogs. I hope this article doesn't discourage anybody from getting out and enjoying our beautiful canyons and back country.

Dog snake aversion training is now available each spring, for about $75. We did it with our precious dog, and figured it's cheap insurance.


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Avatar for user 'Mom2Two'

Mom2Two | May 11, 2009 at 8:26 p.m. ― 7 years, 7 months ago

I have only had one run-in with a rattle snake. I was hiking alone (a poor choice, I know...) and I came across a snake curled up on the path. It wouldn't have been a problem, but I wasn't paying close attention. I nearly stepped on it. I was so surprised that I turned and ran the other way. I think my experience was a good example of what not to do. Don't hike alone. Watch where you are stepping. Don't make sudden movements or run.

I was lucky that nothing bad happened.

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Avatar for user 'ReptileRemover'

ReptileRemover | March 12, 2011 at 12:07 a.m. ― 5 years, 9 months ago

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