Wednesday, 11 July 2012 13:08
Rattlesnakes are found throughout Utah
Seeing a rattlesnake in your yard or in the wild can be a frightening experience.
If you see a rattlesnake, give it plenty of space. And don't harass it.
Photo by Lynn Chamberlain
But it doesn't have to be. If you respect the snake and give it some space, the chance you'll have a negative encounter with the snake is almost zero. And Jason Jones says if you can find a safe place to observe the snake, "you'll have a chance to observe the behavior of one of the most unique critters in the world."
"Rattlesnakes are neat and novel members of our native reptile community," Jones says. "They control pests. They're very important to Utah's ecosystems."
Jones, a native aquatic species biologist with the Division of Wildlife Resources, says summer is the time of year when you'll most likely encounter rattlesnakes in Utah.
Eight rattlesnake subspecies live in Utah. The most common is the Great Basin rattlesnake, which is found across the state.
Rocky, talus slopes are the places in Utah where you'll most likely encounter rattlesnakes. "Because many snake species are camouflaged," Jones says, "there's a chance you've been close to a snake and never knew it."
If you encounter a rattlesnake, the way you act will likely determine the experience you have. "Like most animals," Jones says, "rattlesnakes fear humans and avoid us whenever possible."
Jones says respecting the snake, and giving it plenty of space, are the keys to avoiding problems.
"I can't overemphasize how important it is to give snakes space, to watch where you step, to watch where you place your hands when you sit down, and above all, to resist the urge to harass or kill a snake," he says. "Approaching the snake will ultimately lead to a negative interaction."
Jones also reminds you that rattlesnakes are fully protected by Utah law; it's illegal to harass or kill one.
Tips to keep you safe are available in a free brochure titled "Living with Venomous Reptiles." The brochure is available at www.swparc.org.
Wild Aware Utah also provides free rattlesnake safety information. WAU's information is available online.
If you encounter a rattlesnake while hiking, Jones says you should do the following:
Keeping snakes out of your yard
Rocky, talus slopes aren't the only place in Utah where you might encounter a rattlesnake. Depending on where you live, you could find a snake in your yard.
Aside from building a fence that rattlesnakes can't penetrate, Jones says the following are the best ways to keep rattlesnakes out of your yard:
For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at 801-538-4700.
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