A rattlesnake like this one. Photo via San Diego County News Center.
Rattlesnake image via San Diego County News Center.

Rattlesnake season in Southern California typically peaks during the hot summer months, yet sightings of the venomous serpents are up this spring in the San Diego area, according to media and county reports.

San Diego County’s Department of Animal Services has answered more than 275 rattlesnake-related call since January, a roughly 40 percent increase over the same period last year, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

More than 155 rattlesnakes have been removed from homes and public spaces by county officials this year, the U-T report continued.

The rattlesnake is San Diego’s only venomous serpent, and to protect against them the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends that residents encourage and protect natural competitors like gopher snakes, kingsnakes and racers.

“Kingsnakes actually kill and eat rattlesnakes,” the department states.

“Generally not aggressive, rattlesnakes will likely retreat if given room or not deliberately provoked or threatened. Most bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing,” according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Rattlesnake bites have caused severe injury – even death. However, the California Poison Control System reminds that the chances of being bitten are small compared to the risk of other environmental injuries. Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors.