As temperatures rise, experts warn of increased rattlesnake encounters
PHOENIX — As temperatures rise and rattlesnakes come out of hibernation, experts warn of an increased possibility to have a run-in with one of these venomous snakes across Arizona.
“We want people to know that there is a higher than average chance that they might encounter a rattlesnake when they are out recreating,” Thomas Jones, amphibians and reptiles program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said in a press release.
Rattlesnakes are most active from March through October in warm desert areas and it isn’t uncommon for them to be out during daylight hours in the springtime, according to the release.
The Arizona Poison and Drug Information center received 264 bite calls last year across the state.
Meghan Spyres, a toxicologist with Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, says a bite from one of these snakes can cause a great deal of pain.
While the bites can also be fatal, less than 1% result in death, according to Arizona Poison Centers.
“It’s uncommon to die from a rattlesnake bite, but it certainly can occur,” Spyres said in the release. “They (severe bites) can cause your whole body to kind of have a reaction. Your blood pressure can go low. And that’s one of the reasons it’s important to seek immediate medical care, especially in the cases that might be more severe.”
People who encounter a snake on a hike should keep their distance and walk around it while also remaining aware of other snakes that may be in the area, Spyres said in the release.
If you are bitten, call 911 immediately, remove any tight jewelry and elevate the bite site.
Applying tourniquets and stopping blood flow may work with other types of snake bites but not with rattlesnakes, Spyres said in the release.
Sucking out the venom from the wound is also not effective, Spyres said, adding she’s seen complications from that causing infections in the wound.
Experts advise people not to capture the snake as toxicologists can treat snakebite patients without knowing the type they encountered.
The species that are encountered most in the region are the western diamondback, sidewinder, mojave and black-tailed rattlesnakes, according to the release.
“Arizona has more rattlesnake species than any other state, and we can all celebrate that amazing biodiversity,” Jones said.
The Arizona Poison Centers reports 17 different species, while AZGFD lists 13.