Southern California environment news and trends

Rattlesnake season arrives early in the Southland

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Now that spring is in full swing and the unofficial arrival of summer is upon us with Memorial Day weekend, outdoor enthusiasts aren’t the only ones getting an early start on sun-kissed activities. According to the L.A. Zoo and California Poison Control System, the local rattlesnake population is coming out of hibernation early this year, with the potential of a larger snake infestation than usual.

“Fatality, loss of limb, some really severe injuries, medical procedures are necessary to save limbs and life,” said Fish & Game biologist Kevin Brennan about the grisly results of a rattlesnake bite to CBS Local. Officials estimate that California sees one or two fatal rattlesnake bites annually.

Hikers and anyone spending extended time roaming through brush areas are encouraged to wear long pants that cover shoe tops, and to bypass areas where the ground is not fully visible. With a “bumper crop” of baby rattlesnake births expected this season, don’t think the little ones are any less dangerous. Their venom is just as poisonous.

“Simply avoiding the snakes is the number one thing you can do to try to avoid having a snake bite you in the first place,” adds Dr. Cyrus Rangan to CBS Local. “But once a snake bit does occur, we want to make sure that people exercise the appropriate first aid in order to make sure you get to the hospital and get the appropriate care.”

People are the only ones susceptible to rattlesnake bites. NBC San Diego reports that pets being bitten by the snakes are on the rise, and that pet owners in heavily infested areas should consider getting their animals the rattlesnake vaccine. The vaccine reduces the venom's effects, and potentially saves time and money in the recovery process in case of a rattlesnake bite.

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