Like your tulips, rattlesnakes choose spring to re-emerge

Apr 5, 2022, 4:14 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2022, 9:36 am
rattlesnakes in Utah...
Photo credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

SALT LAKE CITY — As temperatures warm up across Utah there are a few things that are certain; crocuses, daffodils, tulips, and rattlesnakes will all come out of hiding.

But the snakes aren’t necessarily hiding, said the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Rather, they have been dormant and existing in a state of brumation— sluggishness or inactivity– throughout the winter months. The sunshine and rising temperatures of spring are their cues to get moving.

Humans are also getting out and getting moving in the spring. And since a rattlesnake will bite when it’s startled, it’s a good idea for humans in Utah to know where rattlesnakes are typically found and what to do if a rattlesnake bites.

Where rattlesnakes are in Utah

Rattlesnakes are most active at dawn and dusk according to Wild Aware Utah. And while they are generally found in the foothills, they may also be encountered in areas as high as 9,000 feet.

Because of Utah’s ongoing drought, the Deseret News reported that rattlesnakes may be seen in areas that are actively watered.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reported that rattlesnakes will most often be encountered on rocky, high-elevation slopes — in some instances, in the same place where someone might be hiking.

It is likely that they’ll stay in areas of dense grass, but due to their markings, rattlesnakes can easily hide on trails. 

How to be safe if you’re sharing space with rattlesnakes

Enjoying the great outdoors is why many people visit and stay in Utah. So avoiding the outdoors may not be the answer.

Other less drastic measures shared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture include:

  • wearing closed-toe shoes, thick socks, and long pants when hiking,
  • don’t step or put your hands where you can’t see,
  • don’t turn over rocks or logs, if you must move them, move them toward you to give anything living underneath a chance to escape in the opposite direction,
  • don’t grab at sticks or branches while swimming outdoors, rattlesnakes can swim,
  • remain aware of your surroundings — rattlesnakes will rattle to warn you of their presence, but not every time,
  • if you hear them, don’t panic, instead, try to find out where the sound is coming from and move away from the area, then warn others,
  • don’t try to kill a snake, it’s illegal and greatly increases the chance that the snake will bite.

What to do if you are bitten by a rattlesnake

A rattlesnake bite is a serious matter and requires immediate medical attention.

Keep the bitten area below the heart. If bitten on the hand, remove jewelry in case of swelling. If possible wash gently. Keep the bite area immobilized. And get to a medical facility.

According to the USDA, do not:

  • make an incision over the bite wound,
  • apply a tourniquet,
  • ice the wound, or
  • attempt to suck the poison out with your mouth.

Find more information about precautions, snake safety, and first aid here.

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Like your tulips, rattlesnakes choose spring to re-emerge