Remaining safe while recreating near rattlesnakes

Apr 10, 2024, 3:00 PM

A rattlesnake coils up in a rock crevice in San Juan County on Monday, April 26, 2021....

A rattlesnake coils up in a rock crevice in San Juan County on Monday, April 26, 2021. (Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – As temperatures begin to warm, rattlesnakes emerge from their dens. People are also heading outside for activities such as hiking and climbing, increasing the chances of encounters. 

Five rattlesnake species live in Utah. The most common is the Great Basin rattlesnake, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Characterized by their brownish, blotchy earth-toned bodies, thick and sturdy bodies, and rattle-tipped tails, the venomous snakes are most active during late spring and early summer. 

While sightings are most common at dawn and dusk, the characteristic rattle can be heard at any time during the day. 

The DWR said that they are most common on dry, rocky benches and slopes, however, they can also be sighted in wide open areas. 

How can I remain safe if I see rattlesnakes? 

As the likelihood of rattlesnake encounters increases, the DWR said there are a few things people can do to avoid injury. 

Firstly, if you see a rattlesnake, do not harass or kill it. Doing so is illegal, as rattlesnakes are protected under Utah law. Remain far away from the snake, especially if it is acting aggressively. 

Rattlesnakes will not strike unless they feel threatened. Like many animals, they are scared of humans and do their best to avoid us. 

Secondly, remain at least 10 feet away from rattlesnakes. Keep children and pets away. Per the DWR, keeping a good distance from the animal will prevent it from feeling threatened. It will also reduce the likelihood of receiving a venomous bite. 

The DWR website said that dogs can be trained to avoid rattlesnakes. 

Thirdly, the DWR said that it is not uncommon for a rattlesnake to move toward someone as it leaves. Remain calm and do not throw anything at the snake. 

Rattlesnakes do not chase humans.

Always keep your eyes on the trail ahead of you. Check your surroundings before you reach onto a ledge, sit, or step over a rock. Visually verify that there are no snakes before reaching or stepping into dense brush. 

If you hear the characteristic rattle produced by the snakes, attempt to locate the source of the sound before you move any closer. Should a rattlesnake be on the trail you are hiking, step off the trail and go around it. 

Alert others in the area to the location of the rattlesnake. Tell them to stay away from it. 

Finally, the DWR said that rattlesnakes should be reported if they are repeatedly seen in an area. Additionally, sightings should be reported if a rattlesnake is in a public park, play area, or in your yard. 

In the event of a rattlesnake bite…

If you are bitten, the DWR called the situation a “serious medical emergency.” Victims must be transported to the hospital immediately. With proper medical treatment, bites are rarely deadly. 

Do not try to suck the venom out of the wound. According to the DWR, attempting to do so could introduce bacteria from your mouth into the wound, increasing the chances of infection. 

Additionally, the National Park Service said that in the event you are bitten, you should not consume alcohol or caffeine. Both liquids act as stimulants, increasing your heart rate and the rate at which the venom can circulate through your body. 

Finally, the DWR recommended that those who regularly travel outside of cellular service consider purchasing a satellite phone. 

Related: Rattlesnakes are appearing on Utah trails, around homes later than normal




We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Outdoors + Recreation

Search and rescue crews braced Friday for a potentially busy Memorial Day weekend as they urged peo...

Andrew Adams, KSL TV

Rescuers prepare for what could be a busy Memorial Day weekend

Search and rescue crews braced Friday for a potentially busy Memorial Day weekend as they urged people to prepare for the elements.

2 days ago

The KSL Greenhouse show host Taun Beddes shares why lawns might turn brown and how to treat those l...

Taun Beddes, The KSL Greenhouse Show

Taun Beddes: Reasons why your lawn is suddenly turning brown

The KSL Greenhouse show host Taun Beddes shares why some lawns turn brown and how to treat the problem if that happens to you.

2 days ago

The Department of Public Safety helicopter was called to support Lone Peak avalanche rescue operati...

Esme Sanchez Estevez

Update: Lone Peak Canyon avalanche search and rescue information

With possible exposure to possible avalanches, rescuers worked hard on complicated mission. Here are more in detail information of the research and rescue.

3 days ago

A lake seen in Utah with beachgoers ahead of the time to learn about Memorial Day safety....

Kennedy Camarena

How to stay safe on the water during Memorial Day weekend

This weekend is considered to be the unofficial start of summer and boating season. When's a better time to learn about water safety?

3 days ago

Multi-directional sprinkler system (canva)...

Mitchell von Puttkammer

Water conservation in your Utah garden

Water conservation in a Utah garden can include installing smart sprinkler systems. And the state can help defray the cost!

3 days ago

Suicide Rock in Parley's Canyon in 2023, before the myrtle spurge was sprayed with treatment....

Lindsay Aerts, KSL TV

Roundup sprayed via drone in Millcreek, Parley’s canyons to kill invasive weed. DWR says it’s needed

In an attempt to kill weeds, the Department of Wildlife Resources sprayed pesticides in the foothills of Millcreek and Parley’s canyons.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Remaining safe while recreating near rattlesnakes