Rattlesnakes slithering into Chico

Sep 10, 2014 12:50 AM by Jason Atcho

Emergency rooms across the North State see snake bite victims every summer. With snakes being born in the next few months, we're not out of the woods just yet.

At Enloe Medical Center in Chico, they see an average of 7 to 10 rattlesnake bites each year. "We tend to see most of our bites coming from the edge of the foothills. So the golf courses seem to be a major problem for us," explained Travis Anderson, Clinical Service Pharmacist for Enloe Medical Center.

This is the time of year rattlesnakes are giving birth, which is just before they go back into hibernation next month. "Mornings tend to be the worst problem starting in April. We peak around May to June. Usually by October it's starting to taper off. We're not seeing as many bites that late in the year," said Anderson.

Ron Greenberg, owner of Ron's Reptiles, says he gets lots of calls every year. "I probably get anywhere from a dozen to 36 calls a season. People call me and ask me to remove them. Everything from hatchlings, babies that were just born, all the way up to 4 footers," explains Greenberg.

There are things you can do to keep the snakes away. Keeping grass and weeds low and away from your home is a good start. That way you can see what's lurking around. "Anything that you stack or store that would be adequate habitat for mice or rats would also be a great beckoning call for any of the rattlesnakes," said Greenberg. He also says this year he got a call about a snake in a neighborhood behind Safeway on East Ave. "That's the closest into town that I've actually had to go to get them. I don't know if it has to do with the drought. I don't know if it has to do with previous year's fire but they seem to be more adventurous."

In the event that a snake bites you, Anderson say to stay calm and get to the emergency room right away. "We don't suck it out. We don't put tourniquets on. We don't ice it. Anything like that. If you're going to do anything, you can note the time of the bite and get yourself to an emergency room as soon as possible."

To avoid rattlesnake in the wild, experts say to stay on well-marked paths. If you encounter a rattlesnake, give it some space. If you see one at home, call an expert and don't try to handle it yourself.

If you'd like to learn more about all the different snakes we have in our area, the 2nd annual Chico Reptile Show is taking place this Saturday, September 13 at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds from 10 am to 5 pm.


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