Village News - Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

By Tracy DeFore
County of San Diego Communications Office 

Rattlers come out of hiding for spring


Last updated 4/16/2018 at 8:44pm

It might seem like it’s too early for prime rattlesnake season, but San Diego County residents should watch their step now. Dozens have already been sighted this year, and the numbers have spiked in April for the last two years.

“We always say that every season is rattlesnake season because of the moderate climate in San Diego County,” county Animal Services Director Daniel DeSousa said. “But when the temperatures start rising in the spring, so do rattlesnake sightings, and calls come in from the coast to the mountains.”

So far, county Animal Services has responded to 82 rattlesnake calls between Jan. 1 and March 31. Those numbers are low compared to the same time frame in 2017 when calls rose to 188. In 2016, the first three months showed 165 calls.

DeSousa said he can’t account for why the number is low for this year, but he said that April has seen the highest number of rattlesnake calls in 2016 and 2017.

If a resident sees a rattlesnake on their property, county Animal Services recommended keeping an eye on it from a safe distance and giving them a call. Animal control officers will impound the snake and remove it to an area where it doesn’t pose a risk to the public.

Mary Ramsey, supervising park ranger for the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, warned visitors to be aware of their surroundings, especially of where they’re placing their hands or feet or where they sit.

Typically, Ramsey said the snakes are either sunning themselves or on their way somewhere.

“People think they’re going to chase you - that isn’t so,” she said. “They don’t want anything to do with us.”

If someone encounters one of the five varieties of rattlesnakes found in the county, give it space. Calmly back away from it, leave it alone and let it go on its way, Ramsey said.

If bitten, call 911 and remove any constricting clothing or accessories like rings or watch bands.

To avoid encounters with rattlesnakes, the Department of Animal Services suggested the public wear sturdy hiking boots with ankle support so that feet are protected and stay on paths and trails and avoid tall grass, weeds and brush where snakes may hide.

Also, keep dogs on leash while hiking and be aware of what the dog is doing at all times. Make sure to look carefully for concealed snakes before picking up rocks, sticks or wood and consider bringing a walking stick along while hiking, so that if an encounter with a snake occurs it may strike the stick instead of a person or pet. Always give rattlesnakes the right of way.

Those living in an area where rattlesnakes have been found should check their yard before letting pets and children out to play.

The county encourages people to remove potential food or shelter for rattlesnakes from their properties. Deal with mice or rat infestations and get rid of wood piles or garbage heaps that can make excellent hiding spots for snakes.

Residents of the county’s unincorporated areas can call Animal Services for help removing rattlesnakes if they pose an immediate threat. The number is (619) 236-2341.


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