Frequently asked questions

  • Q: Will a rattlesnake attack me, my family, or my pets?
  • A: To put it simply, no. “Attack” refers to an offensive action, and snakes only bite things larger than them if they’re defending themselves. This can mean stepping on, touching or grabbing, and/or cornering a snake. A rattlesnake won’t go out of its way to bite you, and requires you to be within half to three-quarters of their body length away.

 

  • Q: Why do snakes chase people?
  • A: They don’t. Stories of snakes chasing people are driven from fear or hatred. If you encounter a snake while out in direct sunlight and you stop and stay still for some time, the snake may begin too loose track of you and begin to think you’re a rock or tree casting a nice, cool shadow. It is also possible to encounter a rattlesnake cruising around, but at a distance where it doesn’t see you despite you seeing it. A rattlesnake on the crawl traveling somewhere, if it doesn’t see you approach, may do the same think mentioned previously and think you’re a strange looking rock or tree.

 

  • Q: I found a baby snake in my yard. Do I have a nest in my yard?
  • A: Generally, no. Birthing season is in the late summer into early fall (August – October). Often times, people find young snakes in the springtime during the first couple months of snake emergence from dens. These snakes, by the time the following Spring arrives, are roughly 10 – 12″ long. These 6 – 7 month old snakes are often the first snakes to leave their over-wintering spots early on in the Spring months of March & April, as they don’t realize it is entirely possible to get stormy and cold again during these month. Put simply, if you find a roughly 1 foot long snake in the spring or summer, it is probably a decent distance from where it was born. That said, if you encounter a tiny rattlesnake (merely 5 – 7″ long), it is possible it isn’t too far from the rest of his or her siblings & perhaps mom.

 

  • Q: Do all rattlesnakes rattle?
  • A: Most of the time, a rattlesnake will hold off on rattling until they’ve been approached to close proximity or touched. Some populations are somewhat used to people or animals walking around, and may in fact remain quiet and still until they’ve been touched or stepped on. Rattlesnakes may be more prone to extra early warning if stumbled upon during a warm/hot day if they are out in the sun trying to get into the shade. Snakes tend to become increasingly nervous as their body temperature increase, and if you get in the way of them trying to get into a cool, shady spot, they’ll likely rattle a good bit more as they try to retreat and keep you at bay.

 

  • Q: Why shouldn’t I just kill the thing?
  • A: What you do in the situation where you or someone at your home comes across a rattlesnake is entirely up to you. It isn’t illegal to kill a rattlesnake in California as of now. However, if you hear me out or read into the lives of these creatures, I do hope it’ll change your mind. They don’t want to hurt you nor want to find themselves in a situation where they even have to defend themselves. If you aren’t a mouse or lizard, they won’t hurt you as long as you don’t try to hurt them. They’re free pest control, put aside the idea that they’re venomous. Plus, they generally move along if you give them space and time to leave without the stress of being followed.

 

  • Q: Does snake repellent work?
  • A: I’ve found rattlesnakes in yards with inches of the stuff piled up around the property line as if a snow plow scraped it all up and pushed it against every inch of the fence line. In short, not so much – at least with current snake repellent. The best, perhaps most effective thing I’d recommend is keep your yard maintained, bushes trimmed, and limit the amount of clutter in your yard or on your property. These steps can go a pretty long way to lower your encounter rate.

 

  • Q: Do baby rattlesnakes have a rattle? Secondly, do all rattlesnakes have a rattle?
  • A: Yes, even newborn rattlesnakes will have a single button. If you find a small snake with blotches, but a pointy tipped tail, it’s likely a gopher snake or juvenile yellow bellied racer. The answer to the second question is a tad bit more complicated. All rattlesnakes are born with a rattle, but they can permanently loose their rattles from an injury at the very tip of their tail just before their rattles start. If clipped by a car or if an animal injuries the very tip of their tail, it can sever off the rattles and the very tip of the snakes tail where the rattles are attached. This can create a rattle-less rattlesnake. A rattlesnake that lost the tip of its tail & rattles will have a blunt-ended tail, though, which helps tell you something is missing.

 

  • Q: Is a juvenile rattlesnake more venomous than an adult?
  • A: In short, no. Juvenile rattlesnake venom glands are a fraction of the size of an adults. Juveniles and adults can control the venom dispensed in a bite, too. While juvenile rattlesnakes may have slightly more toxic of venom, the added toxicity only makes up for the smaller amount of venom they have when they’re small. A bite from an adult can deliver far more venom, making the playing field in regards to venom even. Due to the fact an adult can pack more venom in a bite with equally, if not more toxic venom, bites from adult rattlesnakes generally lead to more severe symptoms and long-term ramifications.

 

  • Q: Where do rattlesnakes like to hide?
  • A: Rattlesnakes are secretive creatures. They don’t care for being out in the open, and are generally seeking a cozy bush, rock, or woodpile to hangout in or setup in ambush near hoping for a mouse. However, if these places are harder to find, they may find shelter against the shady side of a home, in a garage, or under any items near our house that create some cover. Generally, during the summer, snakes will spend most of the daylight hours in or very near shade and become more active in the evening to avoid overheating in the hot sun.

 

  • Q: I get quite a few rattlesnakes in my yard every year. Do I have a den?
  • A: It’s rather uncommon to have a legitimate, cool season den site on a property. They of course exist, but generally in places where there isn’t much human habitat disturbance. Most of the time, in cases where some yards or properties see lots of snake activity, it’s because the location is in-between a possible den (or a few) and areas where snakes spend lots of time in the summer (for example, cooler areas or hunting spots). We’ve noticed some property owners sometimes sit on long-standing routes that snakes seem to utilize every year, and this route likely contains many social places where other rattlesnakes interact with each-other, making them feel safe on their route. Den sites are almost always in sizeable rock outcrops, that have deep underground burrows keeping them dry and warm enough to comfortably survive winters.