I live in the wild untamed desert. My yard is full of a wide range of desert creatures including scorpions, horny toads, snakes, and sometimes even javelina and coyotes. We once had a visit by a mountain lion several years ago. The desert is beautiful but it can also be dangerous. Our biggest concern this time of year is running into snakes in the yard, parks, and hiking trails. Here is a sneaky bull snake that was in my driveway today.
After living in this desert my whole life I had to learn how to capture and remove snakes once I had children (although I will not attempt that with a rattlesnake). The first snake I caught was on my screened-in porch and my husband (snake wrangler extraordinaire) was not at home. I felt like Steve Irwin catching that snake but I do not advise you to do the same if you have not been trained. Even if you have been trained, here are a few tips to help you keep safe during the snake months.
- Do not attempt to remove a snake if you are not trained to do so. I do not advise hand-catching snakes even if you are trained. I use a very long snake stick or yell for my husband.
- Stay on trails while you are hiking.
- Do not sit on a rock or bench without checking to make sure it is snake-free on all sides.
- Watch where you put your hands and feet.
- Rattlesnakes do NOT always give a warning rattle before striking. Be alert.
- Bull snakes will often imitate rattlesnakes when they feel threatened. While they are not poisonous they will bite and it will hurt. Stay back.
- If you see a snake and you are outside of its striking distance, move away from the snake quickly. If you are in striking distance stay still and let the snake move away. Try not to make sudden movements. If you must move way, try to move very slowly. Striking distance is about 1/2 to 3/4 of the snake’s length.
Even if you are careful, you may still experience a bite. If you are bitten by a rattlesnake or are not sure what kind of snake bit you, seek emergency medical attention right way. Do NOT try to capture the snake. Do NOT apply a tourniquet. Do NOT suck the venom out. Do NOT apply ice.
This post is not intended to substitute for medical advice or treatment and I am not a herpetologist. Please exercise caution in the desert wilderness and in areas near the open desert. Teach your kids to watch for snakes and make sure they know what to do to avoid a tragic situation.