With the death of William Price, a man experienced with the outdoors and nature, from a rattlesnake bite, it might be time to remind people about the dangers of rattlesnakes in the San Diego area. While Price was bitten in the water while wearing water sandals, most snakes are encountered on land, frequently in areas around people.
There are four types of rattlesnakes found in San Diego County: Southern Pacific, Southwest Speckled, Red Diamond, and, in the desert, Colorado Desert Sidewinder. All rattlesnakes have triangular heads and a rattle on the tail. They can be very small, very long or very long and fat. All have the characteristic rattle at the end of their tails.
Rattlesnakes actually do not want to be around people and will often depart an area if they sense that people are around. However, if a person or animal runs up and surprises a snake, it might strike out defensively. Many snakes will freeze and play dead if approached by human beings. Even though it may appear that the snake is dead, chances should not be taken. If a snake does this, one should walk around the snake with a wide enough distance from it as, at least, its body length. They can strike out about 2/3 their body length at lightning fast speed. Never step over a rattlesnake as they can flinch back or upward and bite.
Rattlesnakes like to live near the base of bushes, under rocks, in holes or, sometimes, on trees (rarely) or logs. One should always look where they are placing their hands and feet as all time. Also, high-top hiking boots or shoes with tough material and long pants should be warn when hiking through snake country. If rocks are to be overturned, they should be overturned towards the body. Edges of ponds should be checked for snakes before wading and if there’s any doubt, boots should be worn in the water. And, of course, snakes should be treated with respect and not be harassed, chased, or thrown objects at.
Rattlesnakes cannot regulate their own body temperature and rely on the sun and/or shelter for warmth and temperature regulation. In cooler weather, rattlesnakes will not be as active, but may be sunning themselves in an open area. In warmer weather, they may be hiding behind rocks or in holes to get away from the heat. Rattlesnakes often hunt at night because their prey, mostly rodents, are most active at that time.
Rattlesnakes are interesting creatures and should be respected as the rodent-controlling predators that they are. Taking precautions will, hopefully, lessen the dangerous interactions between these snakes and human beings.