On a recent ride of Fantasy Island, I came upon a rattlesnake eating a rabbit right on the trail. Speaking with the next couple of mountain bikers to come along, I realized that rattlesnake common sense isn’t so common. So here are a few tips.
In most cases the human is the aggressor when a snake bites. Do not poke at a snake or try to catch them. If you are going to photograph them use your zoom. Do not handle any wild animals.
If it is not rattling, from a safe distance, you may want to observe and identify the snake. One major distinguishing factor is the rattle located at the end of the tail on a rattlesnake. By identifying this rattle, you have in turn identified a rattlesnake.
Know what time of year you are most likely to run into a rattlesnake and where. These snakes usually hibernate during the cold months and are extremely active during the spring and summer months.
Dress appropriately. Boots are the best if you will be spending a large amount of time in the desert. Long sleeve shirts and pants are also necessary for a trip into the woods.
Be aware when in an area rattlesnakes may make their home. Stay on trail. Look before stepping over a log or rock. Do not stick your hands anywhere you can’t clearly see, do not sit on a log or stump without checking first, and always hike or enter the woods with a buddy, or let someone know where you’ll be and when you should be back.
Obey warnings. If you hear a rattlesnake’s rattler, you are too close and the snake is attempting to warn you. Immediately retreat from the area.
Stay calm if you encounter a rattlesnake make a quick check of your surroundings, you don’t want to run directly into the snake or a cholla, and move away from the snake slowly. Keep in mind the striking distance of the snake, they can strike nearly the same length as their body. When moving away from a rattlesnake, the safest thing to do is move in the opposite direction the snake is moving in.
Randy Young, Southwest Trekking Guide