The chances are fairly low. Only about 300 cases of rattlesnake bites in California are reported each year, according to the California Poison Control System (CPCS). However, with the prolific rainfall earlier this year and the warm weather now upon us, we can expect a substantial jump in the number of rattlesnakes in the state.
Be sure to take precautions to keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe.
Rattlesnakes are widespread in California and can be found in a variety of habitats—and not just in rural areas. They can be found in urban settings, riverbanks, lakeside parks, golf courses, and around homes in brushy areas or under wood piles, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
Be aware that rattlesnake bites mainly happen between April and October. Here are some tips from CDFW for avoiding getting bitten:
- Wear boots and long pants when hiking.
- Avoid tall grass, weeds, and heavy underbrush where snakes can hide.
- Don’t sit, step, or put your hands where you can’t see. For example, step on logs or rocks and not over them, and check out stumps and logs before sitting on them.
- Don’t grab sticks or branches while swimming in lakes or rivers—rattlesnakes can swim and can easily look like a stick or branch in the water.
- Teach children to leave snakes alone.
- Don’t count on hearing a rattling sound to warn you a rattlesnake is near—a scared rattlesnake can strike without it.
When hiking with your dog, leash your pet. Some veterinarians carry rattlesnake anti-venom and rattlesnake vaccines. Contact your veterinarian for more information, and remember to check their license status by visiting the Veterinary Medical Board’s website.
If bitten by a rattlesnake, you need immediate medical attention; get to a hospital as soon as possible. A rattlesnake bite can cause severe injury or even death. Do not apply ice or a tourniquet, and do not cut out the bite or try to suck out the venom.