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By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

May 14, 2018 (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 snakes I’m talking about are actually more fearful of you, however they are 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. 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, visit

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They can strike about 2/3 of their body length, and do not need to be coiled to do so. In fact, I had one strike at me when it was fully stretched out and moving as I was driving past it on a 4-wheeler! Also, they don't always 'rattle' before striking. For more on these often misunderstood snakes, follow the web link here: