Are baby rattlesnakes more venomous than adults?
No. They are not more venomous, but they do have a different venom composition than adults, which can be potentially more dangerous for a child, the elderly, somebody with a compromised immune system or a pet.
Are there typically other rattlesnakes if one is found? If a baby rattlesnake is found, does that mean there's a protective mother nearby?
No. Snakes are not social creatures and shortly after birth, (usually a week or two) they're on their own.
Do rattlesnakes nest?
No. Rattlesnakes, members of the Crotalus genus all incubate their eggs internally. Once they 'hatch' inside their mother, they arrive into their new world live and ready to go.
What's the best way to keep rattlesnakes out of my yard?
Keep the things they're looking for out of your yard, or at least, off the ground. Avoid bird feeders, sources of water, piled up debris. (boards, trash, brush/palm fronds, etc.) If you've got brick, flagstone, etc. for construction, keep it off the ground and on pallets if possible.
Do snakes travel in pairs?
No. That's an old myth. Generally the only time you'll find snakes in pairs is during spring during mating season.
Does the number of digits on a rattle indicate the age of a rattlesnake?
No. The number of rattles on a rattlesnake indicates the number of times the rattlesnake has shed it's skin. That can vary depending on how much food the snake is eating. Early in a young snakes life, it can shed it's skin as often as once a month if food is plentiful.
Are rattlesnakes territorial?
No. Snakes found here in Steiner, including rattlesnakes will not defend their territory. If a snake has made itself comfortable in your yard, garage, etc., it's because there is something there it needs to survive. (A nice cool place to hide, water, rodents/birds to eat, etc.)
What do I do in the event of a venomous bite?
Call 911- every time. Lots of reasons for this.
1. The bite victim needs to remain calm.
2. The paramedics will be able to stabilize the victim while en route to the ER.
3. The paramedics can call ahead to the ER to begin the process of reconstituting the antivenom, which usually takes around 30-45 minutes.
If possible, try to get a picture of the snake for identification.
What do I do in the event of a non-venomous bite?
Simply washing the area with soap and water is sufficient.
Can dead snakes still bite?
Yes! There are numerous, reliable reports of people decapitating snakes, picking up the heads, and being bitten. Once the head is separated from the spine, the brain continues to send nerve impulses, resulting in muscle spasms. One of these muscle spasms can easily manifest itself in the snake's mouth, resulting in a bite for the unsuspecting person holding it. Thses spasms have been recorded to continue for up to one hour after the snake has been killed.
What can I do to make my yard/surroundings unappealing to snakes?
We live in their habitat, so there's nothing you can do to make your yard/surroundings 100% snake free. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow to keep their numbers down.
1. Water sources. Ponds, puddles, pools, etc. can be a great resource for snakes and other creatures, especially during droughts. If the creeks down in the canyons are dry, creatures are going to forage for water.
2. Keep debris off the ground in your yard and the surrounding area. Piles of plywood, rocks, leaves, etc. are great spots to hide and beat the heat. Often times, these spots will house mice and other rodents which will attract snakes.
3. Seed bird feeders will attract snakes. Many snakes, including the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, LOVE birds. Birds eat from the bird feeders and spill seed onto the ground. Rattlesnakes will curl up underneath those feeders and wait for birds/other rodents to come by for a ground level snack.
4. Check your garage for mouse/rodent droppings. Often times when I get called out to pick up a rattlesnake in a garage, there are boards stacked up and leaning against one of the garage walls. If this sounds like your garage, look behind them once in a while and check for droppings- if you see them, you *will* end up with snakes in your garage.
What can I do to protect my dog?
The absolute best thing you can do for your dog is snake aversion training. I am considering offering this training at a substantial discount to Steiner Ranch residents.
There is also a vaccine you can get for your dog, but it is *not* 100% effective. At best, it will buy your dog time while you get it to the vet in the event of a bite.
A combination of the two is ideal.