It is the time of year to be very careful and watch out for snakes here in Arizona. Reptiles in Arizona are most active in the warmer months of April through October. During the hottest months, they will be most active at night. There are 17 different species or subspecies of rattlesnakes in Arizona, and all are venomous. It is estimated that nearly 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes each year, which results in 8 to 15 deaths. Therefore it is very important to immediately seek medical treatment if you are ever bitten by a venomous snake.
Some precautions about reptiles to help you stay safe:
- Leave wild animals alone. It is estimated that 50 to 70% of reptile bites were provoked by the person who was bitten–that is, someone was trying to kill, capture or harass the animal.
- Be aware of peak movement times. Reptiles in Arizona are most active in the warmer months of April through October. During the hottest months, they will be most active at night. They may be encountered during the day in spring and fall or during a warm day in winter.
- Watch where you put your hands and feet. Try to keep your hands and feet out of crevices in rocks, wood piles and deep grass. Always carry a flashlight and wear shoes or boots when walking after dark.
- Even dead snakes can bite. Never handle a venomous reptile, even after its dead. Reflex strikes with injected venom can occur for several hours after death.
- Install outdoor lighting for yards, porches and sidewalks. If you see a venomous reptile in your yard, it is probably just passing through. However, if you are concerned about a dangerous animal in your yard, seek professional assistance in removing it.
If a snake is spotted you can always call the fire department and ask for assistance.
Whatever you do –whether hiking, outdoor sports, or yard-work — be safe.