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Arizona rattlesnake season: How to stay safe among rising incidents

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Posted at 5:20 AM, Mar 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-12 08:20:31-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — With temperatures rising in Arizona, residents are getting ready for rattlesnakes coming out from hibernation, causing concerns about safety in outdoor activities.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center has reported a surge in rattlesnake bites, particularly in Pima County. According to Steve Dudley, Director at the Center, there has been a steady increase from 106 bites in 2021 to 123 in 2023. Already this year, one bite has been reported in the county.

Contrary to popular belief, Dudley emphasizes that rattlesnakes are not aggressive creatures and are unlikely to go after humans.

“Rattlesnakes are not aggressive; they're not going to chase you. They’re not this aggressive animal; however, they are extremely defensive, and it’s easy to understand why people get that mixed up. What I mean by that is that we are much larger than snakes. They know they can’t eat us. It’s not worth them, waste their venom on us because they have to use that for their prey, and for their defense mechanisms,” said Dudley.

Encounters with rattlesnakes commonly occur around homes or during outdoor activities such as hiking. Experts advise immediate medical attention if bitten, as anti-venom treatment is essential. Dudley further warned that the average cost to treat a rattlesnake bite in Pima County stands at a staggering $124,000.

“By all means, you have to go to the hospital. The problem with bites is that they cause a couple of different things; one is that you can see pretty extreme swelling and redness. The other problem you have to think about is that snakes don’t have teeth, they have fangs, they don’t shoot their food, they swallow it whole, and so they need to digest their food inside out, and that’s what that does to us. It makes it very hard for us to stop bleeding,” said Dudley.

Staying vigilant and aware of your surroundings can greatly reduce the chances of a dangerous encounter. For more information on rattlesnakes or what to do in case of a bite, individuals can contact the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.