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By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

Snakes' eyes – they’re watching!

April 10, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) -- We know all about those snakes at work that slither around trying to work their way into promotions, office social circles and politics, or even belly up to the boss. They’ll do anything (even bite you in the back) as long as it benefits them.  But the snake I’m talking about is actually more fearful of you, however just as dangerous and you need to exercise caution around them: rattlesnakes!

Recent rains have provided snakes the opportunity to mate a little longer. Generally, rattlesnakes emerge from hibernation in March or April, or when the average daytime temperatures reach and remain about 60 degrees Fahrenheit and higher.

Rattlesnakes are not confined to rural areas reminds Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. They have been found in urban areas, in lakesides, parks, and at golf courses. There are several safety measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of startling a rattlesnake: 

  • Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.  Wear hiking boots. 
  • When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants
  • Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day
  • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark
  • Rattlesnakes can swim. Use caution in rivers, lakes and flood basins.
  • Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side
  • Never hike alone.  Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency
  • Do not handle a freshly killed snake, it can still inject venom
  • Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone

Some people are like snakes. When they move their mouth, you can’t tell for sure whether they are trying to smile at you or getting ready to bite you.” Use caution!

For additional rattlesnake safety tips visit:

*Note: The information in this article was compiled from various sources. These suggestions are not a complete list of every preventative or loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace additional safety manuals or the advice of another qualified professional(s). We make no guarantee of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.


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protection from bites

Good point on protecting your feet and legs when hiking. I wear heavy leather high top boots and denim Levis outside the boots. I have stepped on rattlesnakes twice when I could not look down while walking and they did not bite, but were very loud after I took my foot off of them. So far I've seen gopher snakes and don't be fooled when a gopher snake coils, rattles it's tail in the brush and flattens its head immitating a rattlesnake. No rattles on a gopher snake.

I hike regularly in the hills and haven't seen one recently

but I don't discount them. I now wear ant-snake gaiters, "turtle skins," because I can't always count on seeing them and if you're bit out there forget about getting to a medical facility that just happens to have the correct antibodies.

watch out for rattlesnakes

I miss the large rattlesnakes we used to have before they were killid by fearful neighbors who go out of their way to kill all rattlesnakes they see. Rattlesnakes are attracted to piles of wood, abandoned buildings and cars where packrats and squirrels nest. By removing wood piles, brush and low branches rattlesnakes are less likely to come around. Keep your walking areas wide and clear of debris. Be clumsy and watch where you step or put your hands and they will let you know when you are too close. Three beautiful kinds in southeast County west of the desert. Check them out here: