It’s that time of year: Rattlesnake season.

Officials are reminding residents that warmer weather across the San Diego region is bringing out these venomous creatures.

A crew from the Lakeside Fire Protection District removed and relocated a 3-foot long Southern Pacific rattlesnake from a backyard home Wednesday.

If you’re concerned about rattlesnakes in your yard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the best protection is a “rattlesnake proof” fence.

“The fence should either be solid or with mesh no larger than one-quarter inch. It should be at least three feet high with the bottom buried a few inches in the ground. Slanting your snake fence outward about a 30-degree angle will help. Keep vegetation away from the fence and remove piles of boards or rocks around the home,” according to the agency.

The CDFW also advises residents to encourage and protect natural competitors like gopher snakes, kingsnakes and racers.

“Kingsnakes actually kill and eat rattlesnakes,” according to the agency.

What if you do spot a rattlesnake?

“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,” the CDFW advises.

Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors, according to the CDFW.

Besides building a fence and encouraging competitors, the CDFW offers the following safety precautions to reduce the likelihood of a rattlesnake encounter:

  • Be alert. Like all reptiles, rattlesnakes are sensitive to the ambient temperature and will adjust their behavior accordingly. After a cold or cool night, they will attempt to raise their body temperature by basking in the sun midmorning. To prevent overheating during hot days of spring and summer, they will become more active at dawn, dusk or night.
  • Wear sturdy boots and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through brushy, wild areas. Startled rattlesnakes may not rattle before striking defensively.
  • Children should not wear flip-flops while playing outdoors in snake country.
  • When hiking, stick to well-used trails. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
  • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see. Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
  • Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
  • Be careful when stepping over doorsteps as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.
  • Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
  • Do not handle a freshly killed snake, as it can still inject venom.
  • Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone.
  • Leash your dog when hiking in snake country. Dogs are at increased risk of being bitten due to holding their nose to the ground while investigating the outdoors. Speak to your veterinarian about canine rattlesnake vaccines and what to do if your pet is bitten.


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