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Serpent sightings: Rattlesnakes out of hibernation in SoCal

Natalie McNear/Flickr Creative Commons

If you can't see the ground, you can't see serpents. Keep this piece of advice in your long pants.

While it's unusual to see so many fangs so early in the year, unseasonably warm temperatures have signaled the end of hibernation for a number of slitherers, resulting in an increase in rattlesnake sightings across Southern California, say experts.

Canyon dwellers are advised to wear pants long that enough to cover the tops of shoes, and to avoid walking in tall brush or grass, or anywhere else you can't see below. Additionally, hikers are urged not trek alone and to bring a phone (even though cell service varies on trails), in case of an emergency, notes KTLA.

During last year's snake awakening, we spoke with park ranger Jackeline Velasquez who explained that rattlesnakes tend to sun themselves on trails and roads during the day, and then move around in early evening as they prepare to hunt.

Facing-off with the fanged does not have to end in venom, however. If you encounter a snake blocking your trail, stand out of striking distance, several feet away, and stomp your feet. Often, the vibrations will cause the coil to shake a tail feather and scoot.

If a rattlesnake does bite you, stay calm, and stay as still as possible. Doing so will help keep the venom from traveling quickly through your body. Don't try to suck out the venom, said Velasquez, instead, wash the bite area and call for medical help.

The California Department of Fish and Game website lists eight different kinds of rattling carnivorous reptiles, and note they are not exclusively found in rural areas.

City snakes happen too.

Wear shoes.