Warmer temperatures mean venomous reptiles leave their underground hide-outs in search of food and to mate. And nicer weather also means more people in parks and on trails. And that leads to more hospitals reporting an increase in rattlesnake bites, especially in California and Arizona. For those of us enduring our state’s shelter-in-place orders, the ability to get outside and get some exercise is crucial. But if that exercise involves going on a hike, or mountain biking on a rugged trail, there's another threat that we all need to aware of — snakes. According to herpetologists, there are four groups of venomous snakes in the United States: rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths/water moccasins and coral snakes. The best piece of advice when enjoying the great outdoors is “don’t be paranoid, be protected!"
If you, too, want to escape the doldrums of the coronavirus "stay home, save lives" orders and get outside for some exercise and to soak up the sun, do it, but just be aware. After all, it is easy to social distance on most hiking trails, especially those in the back country. There are several things hikers can do to avoid danger between now and October when snakes are most active.
To avoid attracting rattlesnakes to your backyard and outbuildings, remove potential snake food and shelter from your property. Make sure you don’t have mice or rats and get rid of wood piles or garbage heaps that can make excellent hiding spots for snakes.
If you are bitten by a snake, the Mayo Clinic advises:
• Call 911 immediately or get yourself to a hospital as quickly as possible.
• While waiting for medical help, stay calm and position the body so that the bite is at or below heart level.
• Remove jewelry or tight clothing before swelling starts.
• Do NOT apply ice or a tourniquet on or near the bite.
• Do NOT cut the wound or attempt to suck out the venom.
• Do NOT drink caffeine or alcohol, which could speed the body's absorption of venom.
As reptiles, a snake’s body temperature mirrors air temperature, so it’s common to see many more snakes this time of year. Don’t avoid outdoor activities, but don’t take a chance either— protect yourself while in snake country by considering Razer Snake Gaiters.