Be aware of snakes to stay safe this summer

This rattlesnake was one of several that has been removed by Animal Services and Enforcement this summer. Remembering we share our space with wildlife can help avoid unwanted contact.

Rattlesnakes strike when threatened or deliberately provoked, but given room they will retreat. Most snake bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing.

In the Rapid City area, Animals Services & Enforcement has been called to remove nearly 50 rattlesnakes this summer. While that number isn’t unusual from past snake seasons, it serves as a reminder on these hot summer days that we share space with rattlesnakes and being aware means being safe.

The majority of snakebites occur on the hands, feet and ankles. Rattlesnakes usually avoid humans, but about 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year, with 10 to 15 deaths, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors. Depending on weather and threatening conditions such wildfires; rattlesnakes may roam at any time of the day or night.

To avoid rattlesnake bites some safety precautions will help:

  • Wear appropriate over-the-ankle hiking boots, thick socks, and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.
  • When hiking, stick to well-used trails if all possible.
  • Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
  • Look at your feet to watch where you step and do not put your foot in or near a crevice where you cannot see.
  • If a fallen tree or large rock is in your path, step up on to it instead of over it, as there might be a snake on the other side.
  • If you hear the warning rattle, move away from the area and do not make sudden or threatening movements in the direction of the snake.
  • Remember rattlesnakes do not always rattle before they strike!
  • Do not handle a freshly killed snake – it can still inject venom.

“Information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture”