Rattlesnakes are the natural predator of many rodents and actually are a beautiful part of the local ecosystem. While they are feared because of their well-known venom and potentially deadly bite, taking a few precautions can decrease your chance of an encounter with them.
Reduction of a snake’s prey is one measure to take to reduce their numbers within the community. We currently offer monthly inspections and treatments of the common areas of communities to reduce rodent populations. Even with this service being performed however, snakes of all types have the potential to migrate into communities from the vast surrounding native areas.
When dealing with such a wide vast space such as the native area and community common areas, it may be impossible to stop rattlesnakes from moving into your area. When native areas become residential areas, the wild life is pushed back due to construction and a lack of food, water, and habitat. Once the community is built or has areas that are completed, landscape is planted and regular watering begins. This will attract rodents and all types of animals because it provides relief that the wild area does not.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce a possible encounter with rattlesnakes.
1. Never reach somewhere you cannot see (i.e. under or around a potted plant)
2. Check before reaching under any items lying down on your lawn or in your garden
3. Always look where you are walking or going, especially on a trail or in a native area
4. Inspect any area where children will be playing
5. If you do encounter a rattlesnake, avoid it and call a pest control specialist immediately
There are products available that are deterrents that can be used, but the success of these products may be limited or ineffective altogether, so vigilance and precaution are the best means to reduce interactions with rattlesnakes.
REMEMBER RATTLESNAKES MAY NOT WARN YOU! They do not always sound off that famous tail rattle, especially if they do not see you coming! So do not depend on getting an early warning, use your eyes and scan the area you are in especially if it is in brush or community landscaping.
Rattlesnakes are very good for the environment and are not as aggressive as they are made to seem. This though may not be the case for young snakes that are inexperienced and fearful of any animal or person that approaches it. They want to get away from you as much as you do from them. It’s a cliche but one that is very true. If you do happen to see one, stay away! Do not taunt them or play with them as they will become agitated.
Report it right away so that they can be removed and taken away from your home and the community. And in the worst-case scenario, if you are bitten do not panic! The less panicked you are the slower the venom will move throughout your body. Call 911 or get to a hospital as fast and calmly as possible.
As we grow in population, homes are put up and we encroach into native areas more and more, our communities provide everything animals and snakes need. However, we can still live together in peace, enjoying their natural beauty and benefiting from their ability to help control rodents.
Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer)
Gopher and King snakes
These two species are likely the other species residents in southern California will encounter. Both of these snakes are non-venomous and beneficial and in fact king snake will hunt and feed on rattlesnakes.
The gopher snake especially can be mistaken for a rattlesnake because of its markings. King snakes however are often mistaken for Coral snakes which are a venomous species. Both of these species’ lack the heart shape or diamond shaped head which is an indicator of the venom glands of rattlesnakes.
These snakes feed on a host of rodents and are great to keep around. During the spring they can be seen in larger numbers as they begin mating and are often seen at a much higher rate.
In areas of the U.S. where coral snakes are present there is a simple way people remember which species which is in making a quick identification.
Red next to yellow, kill a fellow
Red next to black, venom lack
King snakes can come in different colors though, white and brown or white and black but are easily identifiable by the ringed pattern these colors are present on their bodies.
King Snake (Lampropeltis) Coral Snake (Micrurus)
As for now, those of us in California can enjoy this without having to commit it to memory to aid in a life or death situation.