I wasn’t going to write about this again this year, my first rattlesnake entry is by far the most read, and most Googled blog entry on the site. I figured I had it covered. That article occasionally gets comments, but this year is a little different.
One recent commenter mentioned seeing more rattlers than usual in Mission Trails Regional Park. I sort of put that down to time of year. A State Parks Interpreter 1 (a naturalist/educator) once told me, early in the season, snakes come out of their hibernation a little discombobulated, and end up, more often, in the path of humans; in people’s garages, on doorsteps and other inconvenient places. He also said they tend to strike indiscriminately. So I thought that maybe this was just some early season chaos, and that the snakes would settle into their routines, away from human activity.
The UT article says not only are bites on the rise, but that venom is becoming more toxic. If you’ve ever seen the advanced stages of a rattlesnake bite, you’ll know you don’t want any part of that.
Always be aware where you are walking. I saw my first three rattlesnakes as a kid in the yards of different houses I lived in. But, as hikers in San Diego we are nearly always in some place or another where we are likely to be in rattlesnake habitat. My last encounter was in Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. Don’t step over rocks and logs you can’t see over, step on top and look where you are stepping. Rattlesnakes don’t always rattle before striking.
Geocaching always managed to creep me out. People always tend to hide caches in perfect snake hides. In fact I was geocaching in Laguna when I came across that last rattlesnake. Be careful where you stick your hands. Use a walking stick or trekking pole if you’re not sure.
Most of all don’t go bushwhacking if you don’t need to, stay on trails, watch where you are walking, and be careful. If you are bit call 911 immediately, remove rings, bracelets, shoes or anything constrictive near the wound. Try to stay calm, no ice, no tourniquet, no sucking venom from the wound. Get to hospital as soon as possible.