Sonora,CA — According to Tuolumne County Health Officer, Dr. Todd Stolp, rattlesnake season has already begun. Rattlesnakes come out of hibernation when the weather gets warm in spring. The mild winter could also mean more snakes survived their winter hibernation.
Calaveras County Health Officer Dean Kelaita noted that an individual was recently treated for a rattlesnake bite in Calaveras County. Hospitals have anti-venom on hand, and can order more if needed, but it is expensive. A single person can require 6, 12, or even 18 vials.
Dr. Kelaita says the most at risk group are intoxicated young men who have been known to seek out and provoke the animal.
Dr. Stolp noted that encounters also happen when the weather quickly changes from cool to warm as the cold-blooded animals seek to warm up in the sun. He also says that last spring was particularly bad for people being bitten. In 2011, there was one rattlesnake bite in May and two in June.
Stolp recommends using caution and listening for the rattle as the creatures are shy, and don’t like to be stepped on, or bothered. He recommends looking when you are reaching or stepping into tall grass and to stay on trails.
If you see a rattlesnake, notify animal control at 694-2970 or 984-1338.
You can also call Reptile Rescue at 209-588-0650. Be sure to wear hiking boots, never hike alone, and carry a cell phone.
If a person is bitten it is important to seek medical attention immediately, do not try to remove the venom yourself, and keep the bite at or below the level of your heart.