Watch Your Step – Rattlers are Out and About

Enjoying the warm sunshine? Rattlesnakes are. They’re coming out of hiding to sun themselves, so County Animal Services is giving you a heads up to be careful where you put your foot down.

“Rattlesnake calls are up this year; 332 calls have come in so far compared to 290 during the same time frame last year,” said County Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson.

You can discourage rattlers from taking up residence at your home by getting rid of wood piles, fallen fruit, garbage heaps and outdoor dog food bowls. They attract mice and rats, which in turn attract snakes.

If you happen to see a rattlesnake on your property and you live in the County’s unincorporated areas or the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee or Solana Beach, call County Animal Services at (619) 236-2341. If the snake poses an immediate threat, Animal Control Officers will remove it and move it to an area where it won’t be a danger to the public. Residents in other parts of the County should call their local animal control departments for help.

RELATED: Animal Services Retrieves Boa from Office Bathroom

Animal Services says dog walkers and hikers should also be aware of their surroundings. Dogs need to be kept on a leash so they can be pulled away from danger if they encounter a snake. Hikers should stick to the trail and make sure their dogs stay there too. Snakes like to hide in the tall grass, weeds and brush alongside paths.

If you encounter one of the five varieties of rattlesnakes found in the county, give it space. Calmly back away from it, leave it alone and let it go on its way.

To avoid encounters with rattlesnakes, the Department of Animal Services suggests these additional steps:

  • Wear sturdy hiking boots with ankle support so that your feet are protected.
  • Stay on paths and trails. Avoid tall grass, weeds and brush where snakes may hide.
  • Make sure you can see where you are reaching and that you can see ahead of you. Look for concealed snakes before picking up rocks, sticks or wood.
  • Consider bringing a walking stick while hiking. If you encounter a snake it may strike the stick instead of you or your pet.
  • If you live in an area where rattlesnakes have been found, check your yard before letting your pets and children out to play.

If bitten, call 911 and remove any constricting clothing or accessories like rings or watchbands.


SEE MORE: Animal Services Gets Reptile Handling Training (VIDEO)

Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact