Here are some tips to stay safe in rattlesnake habitat:
Stephanie Winton (TRU), Staying Safe in Snake Country 2018
Rattlesnake safety, WildsafeBC, 2019
What do you do if you meet a rattlesnake?
If you encounter a rattlesnake or any snake, remain calm. Rattlesnakes are more afraid of you than you are of them and will only strike as a last resort. Here are a few tips to help you during a snake encounter:
Adult Western Rattlesnake
If you like to admire snakes or take photographs, be sure to do this at a distance. Having binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens can help you remain a safe distance from the animal. Always leave snakes alone and try to disturb them as little as possible. Even if you are certain you are dealing with a non-venomous snake like a gartersnake, it is best to not handle it and leave it be. Remember that killing, capturing and harming snakes is illegal under the British Columbia Wildlife Act.
What do you do if you are bitten by a rattlesnake?
Reactions to snake bites vary from person to person. It is best to always seek medical attention as soon as possible. Rattlesnake bites often occur when people handle juvenile rattlesnakes mistaking them for juvenile Gopher snakes. It is good practice to always respect any snake you encounter, give it space and avoid handling it.
If your dog has been bitten by a rattlesnake, call your vet immediately, so they can prepare for your dog or direct you to another clinic. Not all rattlesnake bites require anti-venom, your vet will assess your dog and determine if it is necessary. A dog’s reaction to a rattlesnake bite can vary so it is best to always take them to a vet to ensure their safety. Always keep your dog on leash while recreating in rattlesnake country to avoid negative encounters and bites.
1. Locate the snake (and potentially others) and move at least five meters away from it.
2. Remove restricting clothing immediately (i.e. watches, rings, tight clothing, shoes).
3. Carefully get the victim to the hospital. Call 9-1-1 as soon as possible, so the hospital can prepare for treatment of a rattlesnake bite. If you are alone: remain calm, avoid strenuous activity, call 9-1-1 and try to find help.
4. Monitor the swelling around the bite. Every 15-20 minutes circle the reddened/swollen area and write the time beside the circle.
1. Never apply a tourniquet. It can cause more harm to the victim.
2. Never suck out the venom, cut the wound or use a “snake bite kit”.
3. The victim should never drive themselves to the hospital, if you alone call 9-1-1 and be transported via ambulance.
4. Never bring the snake that bit you to the hospital.
How can you tell the difference between a rattlesnake and a gopher snake?
To the novice eye it can be quite challenging to determine the difference between a rattlesnake and a gopher snake. Below are some tips to help you determine which snake species you have found. Rattlesnakes don’t always have intact rattles (and babies have buttons) so it is best to not rely on this feature to identify them, instead, look for their triangular head and blotched pattern on their body. Gophersnakes have a narrow head and thick neck, a pointy tail with no ratttle, and rectangular blotches on their body. Gophersnakes are also good at mimicking rattlesnakes! When threatened, they will hiss, strike, and vibrate their tail to mimic a rattle!
See the video below for an example.
*Remember…before identifying a snake, always keep your distance, take a photograph from afar, or use binoculars to help you get a closer look.
Great Basin Gophersnake
Neonate Snake Identification
Did you know newborn snakes can look very different from adults of the same species? Especially in the southern interior of British Columbia, young snakes of many species can appear similar. Here are some tips to help tell these babies apart!