SALT LAKE CITY — They can be dangerous to hikers, children and dogs on Utah trails this time of year, and many Utahns are coming face to face with them.
But experts say, you don’t need to be afraid of rattlesnakes, as long as you know what to do if you come across one.
Hikers are seeing rattlesnakes on trails across the Wasatch Front, like the Living Room Trail near the Natural History Museum.
Even if they don’t see the snake, hikers can hear the familiar rattle emanating from a bush or behind a rock.
Rattlesnakes work off of vibrations. They rattle, experts say, to let you know you are getting too close.
Your reaction to seeing one might be of unease or fear.
“The people in front of us were like, ‘What? He’s joking right?’” One hiker said, recounting a story of alerting other hikers to a rattlesnake. “No, it`s right there!”
Or maybe, your reaction is curiosity.
“Oh, he’s so cute!” Haley Bechard said, watching a video of a rattlesnake along the Living Room Trail. Bechard owns and runs Utah Rattlesnake Avoidance.
Hiker Logan Garrett spotted the snake rattling at her from a bush. She stayed away, but grabbed her phone to take a video from a distance.
“You guys can totally see it,” She said, in her video of the snake. “Oh gosh, you can really see it!”
Garrett said she couldn’t believe how camouflaged the rattlesnake was.
“I’m sure their first reaction is, ‘The snakes coming to get me, it’s on my trail, what am I supposed to do?’” Bechard said, of how some hikers react to seeing rattlesnakes.
Even with a mean noise and venomous bite, Bechard said rattlesnakes won’t bother you—if you don’t bother them.
First, she says, stay calm and keep a distance if you come across a rattlesnake on a trail.
“As long as you’re five feet from them, they’re usually pretty happy to either stay where they, are or kind of go on their way away from you,” Bechard explained.
Keep children away. Make sure your dog has a good recall, or has attended rattlesnake avoidance training. Bechard said that’s especially important if you are in an off-leash area.
Bechard said it’s about respecting their space.
It’s possible that what you are coming across isn’t a rattlesnake, Haley indicated, but the snake’s doppelganger the gopher snake.
She held a gopher snake up, and pointed out how its pattern is similar to a rattlesnake, and the snake will flatten its head out into a diamond shape to mimic a rattlesnake.
“They’ll actually coil up,” Haley said, of the gopher snake. “They’ll create a really loud hissing noise that actually sounds like a rattle. They’ll rattle that tail.”
Either way, she said don’t approach the snakes. Bechard said most people end up bit when they try to mess with or harm snakes.
Plus, she said, messing with or killing rattlesnakes is against the law, because they are a protected species.
“The best thing you can do in the wild, is just leave them be,” Bechard said. “Let them be happy, and move on their way.”
Click here for resources and tips on handling rattlesnakes in the wild, and on your property.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Five Great Dane puppies had to be rushed to a veterinarian after they were bitten by a rattlesnake in their owner’s backyard.
The five pups were severely injured, but a local vet had the anti-venom injection that saved them.
“It’s the gold standard,” said Dana Call, the ICU nursing manager at Neel Veterinary Hospital.
With swollen faces and legs, the 8 week-old Great Danes are getting all the love and attention the veterinary hospital has to offer.
“This is a first for me to have five puppies bitten by the same snake,” Call said.
Three of the pups took a bite to the face. The other two were bitten on their legs.
The owner quickly jumped into action, rushing them to Neel Veterinary Hospital.
“He called us right away and knew to ask if we had the anti-venom, so we were able to help them,” Call said.
Call injected the anti-venom in each pup, something not many veterinary hospitals in Oklahoma City have yet.
“It decreases the amount of tissue damage and organ damage and other symptoms that can occur from the venom,” Call said.
After treating a lot of pets last summer from snake bites, Call hopes, this year, owners are more aware.
“Dogs are curious,” she said. “If they hear something, see something, they’re going to investigate it.”
Your pets can also get a rattlesnake vaccine.
“It’s two injections about a month apart,” Call said. “If you’re an active outdoors person and your pets are with you all the time, it’s a good thing to do.”
Thankfully, Call said all five pups seem to be recovering well. They went home with their owner Tuesday.
“We just give them lots of love and care,” Call said.
Call said, even if a dog receives a rattlesnake vaccine and it is bitten, it still needs to see a vet.