Banner Health warns of increased rattlesnake activity as temperatures rise
PHOENIX — Rattlesnake activity increases in the Valley as the temperatures climb, causing a crossroads between people and the serpents native to Arizona.
About 200 rattlesnake envenomations occur in the state each year on average, and the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center aided with 80 cases in Maricopa County in 2021, according to a press release.
“As we move into the warmer months of the year, more and more of Arizona’s venomous critters become active,” Bryan Kuhn, Clinical Educator at the Banner Poison Center, said in the release. “If you see a snake in the wild, try to go around the snake and give a wide distance, if possible, or just turn back and find another safer route.”
Rattlesnakes use their rattles as a warning sign of their presence. Banner Health toxicologist Dr. Meghan Spyres suggested to move with caution if rattling is heard.
Bites are rarely fatal, as less than 1% of venomous snake bites prove deadly in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A quarter of bites are dry, meaning no venom was injected.
But, there are protocols on what to do if bitten.
Dr. Spyres said in the release to seek the nearest medical facility or call 9-1-1 without delay. Treatments for rattlesnake bites involve antivenin and elevation of the extremity to prevent swelling.
She also suggested not to perform self-treatment such as tourniquets, ice or sucking out the venom, plus attempting to capture the snake could lead to more bites.
Removing any accessories that could obstruct blood flow like rings if bitten on the hand is also recommended.
Snake encounters don’t only occur on hikes, though.
For cases of a rattlesnake found in the home, the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center advises residents to call a professional pest-control company and not try to remove the serpent oneself.
Banner also advocates to warn children of the dangers of venomous animals.
“We encourage parents to start early with warning their children about rattlesnakes and scorpions, and to stay away and don’t touch,” Maureen Roland, director of the Banner Poison Center, said in the release.
Rattlesnakes are most active when monsoons start in August, although Banner advises extra caution when daytime temperatures stay above 82 degrees. Snakes and scorpions like to hide in brush and under rocks and debris.
For more information, visit Banner Health’s website.