[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Cloudy
Cloudy
63°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
May 22
1865 - Discoverer Ramon Perea and partner sell Pico Canyon oil claim to Edward Beale & Robert Baker for $300 [story]


Take a Hike | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Jun 1, 2014

DianneErskineHellrigelIt’s the time of year when rattlesnakes start coming out and scaring the uninitiated hikers on the trail.

If you know what to do, there’s no need to be nervous. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be on the trail, and the less likely you’ll end up with a bite.

All of the local rattlesnakes you see will be Southern Pacific rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes are part of a group of venomous snakes. They are predators that hunt small prey such as birds, mice, small rabbits and rats.

No matter what you’ve heard about rattlesnakes coming after someone and pursuing them, it’s not true. A rattlesnake would rather not tangle with a human. They become nasty, threatening and defensive when they feel threatened by one of us. If you poke them with a stick or throw a rock at them, they will coil and defend themselves. If you get close enough, they will strike at you.

And no matter how much beer you’ve had and how fast you think you are, the rattlesnake is faster. The largest group of people reporting to hospitals with rattlesnake bites are men aged 18-40 who have been drinking beer … and most of those bites are on or near the hand or wrist.

I repeat: You are not smart enough or fast enough to grab a rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes rarely bite unless they are provoked or feel threatened.

deh_rattlesnake-cmkudijaMy best advice is to stay clear of the snake. Don’t throw anything at it. Don’t dilly-dally. Just get out of there and away from it as soon as possible, and put as much distance as you can between yourself and the snake. You’ll see that the snake was also happy to avoid confrontation and will be gone when you are on your way back. And if you’re out on a hike, please refrain from drinking before you go. The beer will make you think you are smarter than you are. Save the beer for a post-hike treat when there are no snakes around.

Rattlesnakes are known for the titular noise they make. It comes from the “rattle” at the end of the tail. However, not all rattlesnakes will rattle. The rattle itself is brittle and can break off. Baby rattlesnakes have only a little button on the end of their tail and no rattles.

Rattlesnakes are also beginning to evolve away from making a rattling sound as a warning because too many of them die at the hands of humans when they rattle. So you might not always hear that familiar rattle.

The other way to make a quick identification is the triangular shape of the head. If the head is oval, it’s not a rattlesnake. Gopher snakes and rattlesnakes have similar markings to most people who do not know the snakes well.

Even though you might not like snakes, they play an important role in the ecosystem. They eat rodents … lots of them. You don’t want mice and rats running rampant all over the place, so just put up with a few snakes. Please don’t kill them. Not even the rattlers. If one is in your shed or backyard, call someone to come get it and make sure your children and animals are secure and far away. All snakes are an important link in the ecosystem, and you’ll probably be more in danger of the diseases that rodents carry than from getting a snake bite. And compared to cobras, rattlesnakes are considered demure.

If you happen to get bitten, get treated at the local hospital as soon as possible. Do NOT slit it open, do NOT suck out the venom, and do NOT apply a tourniquet. What you DO need to do is call 911 immediately for transport. Take a Sharpie pen and mark the time of the bite on the skin, and then mark the progression of the swelling and redness every 15 minutes. This will help the medical personnel determine how quickly the venom is traveling and the amount of venom that was in the bite.

Rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal. The most important thing is to get to a hospital quickly. You will need to be given the antivenom preferably within two hours after the bite. Recovery with quick antivenom therapy is 99 percent. Some rattlesnakes might deliver a lot of venom, some might deliver none, and in the case of juveniles, they will not be able to control how much they deliver.

If you or a friend are bitten by a rattlesnake, remain calm, retreat away from the snake, and arrange for transportation to a hospital as soon as possible. Call 911 as soon as you can. Loosen all clothing and remove anything that might restrict blood flow such as rings, watches and headbands. Keep the bitten area below the heart, if at all possible. Keep the victim warm. Use a blanket or jackets if it is cold. Do not throw blankets or jackets on someone if it’s 105 degrees out. You don’t want them also to suffer from heat exhaustion.

Keep your friend calm and quiet. Talk to him or her in a soft, reassuring voice. Don’t get the bite victim excited. If you happen to have a camera with you, take a photo of the offending snake. This will make species identification easier for the professionals.

If you have been bitten and injected with venom, you will probably experience swelling, severe pain, tingling, weakness, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, hemorrhaging, profuse sweating – and if you don’t go into a hospital for treatment, you’ll eventually have heart failure. The localized pain by the bite is usually intense, and that pain increases as the area begins to swell. Symptoms can be more excruciating in children.

deh_Rattlesnake1Knowing the types of habitats where you can expect to find a rattlesnake will help you to avoid them. They come out when it warms up in spring. Because they are cold blooded, they rely on the warmth of the sun to get them going. They will not be found on a trail when it is cold. Once they are sufficiently warm, they don’t hang around to bake. At this time of day, usually the afternoon, they will be in the tall grasses.

Snakes do not have ears. They depend upon vibrations to tell them someone is approaching. So, don’t tip-toe around. You’re better off stomping around so they can feel you coming and take off before you get there. They have more fear of you than you do of them.

Stay on the trail, and don’t walk through thick brush. Don’t walk on the edge of the trail. You’re better off in the middle. Keep your eyes open and make sure you check the trail, the sides of the trail, and the nearby brush for snakes. A hiking stick is a great snake locator. Rustle the stick around, and if there is a rattler with an intact tail, it will rattle back. Don’t climb around rocks or logs in the spring and summer without looking first. Snakes love to hide in rocks, woodpiles, and under bushes. Look where you step.

Finally, never try to handle, jump over or move a snake. Just leave it alone, and it will leave you alone. Go around it and have a nice, safe hike.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. If you’d like to be part of the solution, join the Community Hiking Club’s Stewardship Committee. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

39 Comments

  1. Bill Boyd says:

    Back in the 70’s, I was a victim of that terrible disease; “Young Man on Alcohol Catching Rattlesnakes”.
    And as fate would have it, I was bitten. When I was at the hospital, the nurse asked me how did this happen? When I told her she yelled out at the top of her lungs “HE JUST FLUNKED THE INTELLIGENCE TEST”.

    I immediately wanted one of those machines that the coyote used in the old roadrunner cartoons that kicked you in the butt real hard when you make a stupid mistake.

    After three days in the hospital and two weeks of a reaction to the antivenom, life got back to normal. My friends had a lot of fun making prank phone calls to me while I was in the hospital which added to my embarrassment.

    To this day I still have a deformed thumbnail. I will never forget lifting up the rattlesnake (of which I had pressed real hard into the sand with a pole) and realized that instead of holding him by the head, I was about two inches behind the head. It was like a slow motion replay I was powerless to move and he just turned around and bit me.

    My immediate thoughts were: “you Dummy. You are not only a Dummy, you are a Big Dummy”.

    Anyway, it is a funny story for another day. When I finish it, I will share it with you

    • So glad the bite was only on your thumb. It could have been much worse! And it’s great that you’re willing to share your story with others who might think about trying to pick one up!

      • Bill Boyd says:

        Hi Dianne
        It was one of those lessons in life that I had to learn the hard way. But I learned it well. I have trouble even saying “Rattlesnakes” and “Alcohol” in the same sentence.

        What most people do not realize is that the venom affects your nervous system. I was at the hospital in about an hour and a half from when I was bitten. My mind told me that I could just walk in to the hospital but my body could not walk.

        Imagine if your were way out in the woods and you could not walk

  2. The writer of this post is ill informed.

    • Bill Boyd says:

      As the writer of the above post, how could I be ill informed about a true story that happened to me and my humorous thoughts of my experience.

  3. Omar Vargas Omar Vargas says:

    What are they ill informed about Zachary Daniel White?

  4. Dwayne Pine Dwayne Pine says:

    They have no intentions of scaring anyone…they are just as afraid of you as we are of them….that little rattle will warn you

  5. There is also a dark-green variety of rattle-snake that is migrating from the Antelope Valley west into the Santa Clarita area. The brown and green ones can be encountered north of town from Castaic through the Frazier area and west of Palmdale towards Canyon Country….

    • Bill Boyd says:

      That is the Mojave Green. It is very prevalent in the east side of The Antelope Valley. Their bite is 10 times as potent as other rattlers

    • You are so right, Dwayne Pine. They do not want to engage with you….they would rather just leave, which is what they will do if you don’t throw rocks at them or do other stupid things that will only make them defensive.

  6. Ckay Walker Ckay Walker says:

    I believe the writer intended they scare the uneducated. Which they do. Just leave them alone, don’t poke or throw rocks at them. They eat mice and rats. I personally like rattlers.

  7. Tracy says:

    All my neighbors kill them….Not me, I scoop them up in my long handle pool net, hang them out the back of my truck and drive them back up into the hills and release them. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but i just can’t hurt a living creature. I vaccinate my dogs against them as well.

  8. Cathy says:

    I’m with you Clay. The snakes are a vital link in nature. They take care of all those disease caring rodents.

    • Cathy says:

      I’m with you Clay. The snakes are a vital link in nature. They take care of all those disease caring rodents.

  9. Megan Happ Megan Happ says:

    Shannon Etheridge – for hiking :-)

  10. Jim Lewis Jim Lewis says:

    If I’m out and about and run into a rattler, I slowly back away and let him continue on his course. He is more afraid of me than I am of him. Yet I had one outside my house the other day about to square off with the cat. It was harder to get the cat away from the snake than vise versa. Had to put the snake down tho, don’t have an extra $1300 for anti venom if it bites any of my animals.

  11. Jimmy Grise Jimmy Grise says:

    bash their heads in with a stick.

  12. Alicia Ellen Alicia Ellen says:

    Had one near front door.took head off.scared for my kid and dogs.rattlers are too dangerous to mess with.

  13. I like my Rattler with a nice citricy IPA.

  14. SCV has Pacific Blacks and Western Diamondback. Palmdale and desert u see the Mojave green

  15. Jim Hawkins Jim Hawkins says:

    Working outside in the desert and mountains for 30 years I can tell you that the baby snakes are out as early as the first week in April. And… Most of the time they’ll NOT warn you with a rattle.

  16. Kim Sloan Kim Sloan says:

    Remember to get your dogs vaccinated against snake bites too. I found out there was a preventative vaccine after two of my dogs were bitten about 8 years ago & $3000 in vet bills later.

  17. Kim Sloan Kim Sloan says:

    Remember to get your dogs vaccinated against snake bites too. I found out there was a preventative vaccine after two of my dogs were bitten about 8 years ago & $3000 in vet bills later.

  18. Jeanette White says:

    Important to know… Thanks!

  19. I live in Acton/Agua Dulce and we have so many snakes out right now its crazy

  20. E Liz Abeth E Liz Abeth says:

    Went for a hike by placerita canyon saw about 10 of these my hike only lasted 10 minutes ☺️ be safe !

  21. Alicia Ellen Alicia Ellen says:

    Yes Danielle me too in agua dulce.babies don’t warn..!!

  22. Dina Caddy Dina Caddy says:

    I HATE SNAKES…THEY ARE EVIL. Sorry to all the snake lovers out there….

  23. Dina Caddy Dina Caddy says:

    I HATE SNAKES…THEY ARE EVIL. Sorry to all the snake lovers out there….

  24. Rattlesnakes out here in Texas – a .410 and my dog. Don’t need anything else and Benadryl is all you need for your dog. Even the vets out here will tell you that. Grew up in CA hunting them in the San Jose foothills and mess with them here in my TX backyard – good on the BBQ too. :)

  25. The vaccines only give you more time to actually get to the vet. You’ll still require antivenom but the effects will be less lethal than usual. Just an FYI. Still looking at a large vet bill but upping the chance of your dog living through it.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Every year, more Americans are diagnosed with osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to weaken and become more likely to break. You mgiht not know that you have this “silent” disease until your bones are so weak that a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes your wrist to break or your hip to fracture.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Instead of rushing forward to implement a new formula by July 1, ample time should be given to study what has been proposed, and already identified flaws in the formula should be changed.
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Traffic is one of the most common concerns raised by residents throughout Southern California. Here in the city of Santa Clarita, we utilize a sophisticated, extensive, state-of-the-art Intelligent Transportation System to manage traffic circulation on our streets, to keep you safe.
Monday, Apr 16, 2018
The best way to fight kidney disease is to find it before trouble starts. But if you’ve already been diagnosed, Medicare can help you make informed decisions about your care.
Thursday, Apr 12, 2018
In 2016, California voters went to the polls and made it clear they wanted elected state officials to spend more money on school construction and passed Proposition 51 to invest $9 billion to upgrade aging buildings, build new schools where needed and build Career Technical Education (CTE) facilities to support better CTE programs.
Wednesday, Apr 11, 2018
Despite voter approval of construction funds in 2016, school districts are struggling to explain to their communities why the state is refusing to release the majority of the money.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Board of Director's Regular Meeting will take place Friday, May 25, at 11:30 a.m.
May 25: Sanitation District Regular Meeting
The Santa Clarita Artists Association (SCAA) presented scholarship awards on Monday totaling $2,250 to three high school graduating seniors who are majoring in art in the SCV community.
Local Graduating Seniors Awarded with Art Scholarships
1865 - Discoverer Ramon Perea and partner sell Pico Canyon oil claim to Edward Beale & Robert Baker for $300 [story]
Santa Clarita Valley condominiums that changed owners during April 2018 yielded a median price of $410,000, which set a record high and for the first time broke the $400,000 benchmark, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Monday.
SCV Condo Median Prices at Record High as April Sales Jump
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold special and regular meetings at City Hall on Tuesday, May 22, starting at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively.
May 22: Santa Clarita City Council Special, Regular Meetings
“Fresh Meat,” a play by CSUN graduate student Karen Casady set to open next month as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, is the tale of a dalliance with cannibals and furries, and what happens when one small algorithm goes awry.
CSUN Grad Student Play About Cannibalism Set for Fringe Festival
The Santa Clarita Community College District’s Board of Trustees will hold its next business meeting at College of the Canyons’ Valencia campus on Wednesday, May 23, starting at 3 p.m.
May 23: COC Board of Trustees Business Meeting
With the goal of contributing to coral reef research, California State University, Northridge biology alumna Jessica L. Bergman has submitted her graduate thesis project, “Behavior of Brooded Coral Larvae in Response to Elevated pCO2,” to the National Science Foundation East Asia Pacific Summer Institute.
CSUN Grad Adds to Research on Acidification of Coral Larvae
College of the Canyons brought home three All-American designations and set a new school record during the two-day California Community College Athletic Association Track & Field State Championships hosted by Bakersfield College May 18-19.
Cougars Earn Three All-American Nods at CCCAA State Championships
College of the Canyons had 13 players recognized with All-Western State Conference East Division honors including sophomore slugger Calvin Estrada who was named Player of the Year, and sophomore southpaw Jacob Lopez who tossed a season worthy of Pitcher of the Year Honors.
Thirteen Cougars Named All-WSC; Lopez, Estrada Take Top Honors
College of the Canyons all-conference soccer goalkeeper Jordan Burrow will transfer to Ottawa University in the fall after committing to continue her playing career as a member of the Braves.
Canyons Goalkeeper Jordan Burrow Signs With Ottawa University
The Lancaster JetHawks are excited to announce that Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar will appear at The Hangar in the festivities for the 2018 California League All-Star Game, to be presented by the city of Lancaster on Tuesday, June 19.
Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar Added to JetHawks’ All-Star Game Festivities
Michel Moore, the Los Angeles Police Department's First Assistant Chief and a Santa Clarita resident, is one of three finalists in the search for a new LAPD chief.
Santa Clarita Resident Michel Moore in Running for LAPD Chief
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce a donation to the Margaret Herrick Library and the Academy Film Archive from George Stevens, Jr., the award-winning filmmaker and founder of the American Film Institute.
AFI Founder George Stevens Jr. Donates Archive to AMPAS
The LA County Arts Commission and the Homeless Initiative Second Dwelling Units Pilot Program recently announced the winners of the Yes to ADU Design Competition, which invited artists, architects and engineers to submit concept designs for Accessory Dwelling Units — also known as “granny flats” or ADUs — as possible solutions to LA County’s homelessness crisis.
County Yes to ADU Design Winners Offer Homelessness Solutions
The Santa Clarita City Council hosted a dedication ceremony on Friday morning to celebrate a public art addition to one of the city’s busiest trails: the Santa Clarita Cycling Bear by local artist Frank Rock.
Santa Clarita Cycling Bear Dedicated During National Bike Week
The city of Santa Clarita has updated the list of productions shooting in the city and the Santa Clarita Valley for the week of May 21-27, 2018.
‘Mayans MC,’ ‘Missing Time,’ ‘Unbound’ Now Filming in Santa Clarita
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean C. Logan reminds eligible voters that the registration deadline to vote in the June 5 Statewide Primary Election is Monday night at 11:59 p.m.
Monday Last Day to Register to Vote in June Primary
The California Retail Survey, which compares retail sales activity for each of California’s 58 counties and 482 cities, ranked the city of Santa Clarita 22nd in retail sales in its most recent report.
Santa Clarita Ranks No. 22 in California Retail Survey
A bipartisan coalition of 39 state and territory Attorneys-General including California AG Xavier Becerra Monday urged Congress to combat the opioid epidemic by passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 and the Comprehensive Addiction Reform, Education and Safety (CARES) Act.
State AG’s Press Congress to Fight Opioid Epidemic
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency, or SCV Water, and Los Angeles County Waterworks District #36 have released their Annual Water Quality Report for 2018.
SCV Water Releases Annual Water Quality Report
The JetHawks allowed 10 extra-base hits, and 19 hits overall, in a 12-2 rubber-game loss to the Inland Empire 66ers on Sunday afternoon at San Manuel Stadium.
JetHawks Lose Rubber Game in 66ers Rout
The JetHawks issued a season-high 11 walks, allowed three unearned runs and saw their season-long five-game win streak end in a 9-6 loss to the Inland Empire 66ers on Saturday night at San Manuel Stadium.
Free Passes Spell End of JetHawks Win Streak
Reid Humphreys helped the JetHawks escape a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning and pitched a perfect ninth to secure a 5-3 win over the Inland Empire 66ers on Friday night at San Manuel Stadium.
JetHawks Hold On to Take Opener 5-3 at I.E.
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, May 22, starting at 9:30 a.m.
May 22: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station has released its crime information and public safety report for Newhall (Zone 6) for crimes reported from April 30-May 13.
Crime Blotter: Grand Theft, Assault, Burglary in Newhall
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested a man suspected of stealing a bicycle in Canyon Country Wednesday, station officials reported Friday.
Deputies Arrest Suspected Bike Thief in Canyon Country
1978 - St. Francis Dam site becomes a State Landmark [story]
1946 - Cher, great-granddaughter of Placerita Canyon homesteader Frank Walker, born in El Centro, Calif. [story]
1851 - San Fernando-San Francisquito-Eliz. Lake Roads become public highways [story]
The Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center 2nd Career Center presents, "Finding your Inner Skills and On-the-Job Training Opportunities for Seniors," Wednesday, May 23, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., in Rooms A1 and A2.
May 23: Senior Center Presentation to Discuss Re-Entering Workforce
The Summer Trolley offers service from several premier hotel properties to Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Westfield Valencia Town Center and Old Town Newhall.
Summer Trolley to Magic Mountain Now Running
The Polka Dot Road Show, a mercantile and art fair, will take place Saturday, May 19, from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., at 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway, Santa Clarita.
May 19: Polka Dot Road Show
Stewart Liff, former chief of the U.S. Veterans Benefits Administration’s Human Resources Division, will be presenting, 'Navigating the VA System,' at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center.
June 6: Navigating the VA System
The city of Santa Clarita is in line to receive $8.9 million from Caltrans toward the $28.2 million cost of building a new Metrolink station at Vista Canyon Ranch, the mixed-use development project that's under construction at Lost Canyon Road in Canyon Country. The new station will replace the Via Princessa Metrolink platform.
State Kicking in $8.9 Mil. for New Metrolink Station at Vista Canyon Ranch
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner - Coroner's Office has officially identified and ruled on the cause of death of the woman struck by a Metrolink train in Saugus last Friday.
Coroner: Woman Struck by Train in Saugus a Suicide