Rattlers invading Craig area

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Out from the hills they come. And they appear to continue coming.

Rattlesnakes looking for cooler weather have moved into the Ridgeview area. A baby rattlesnake was caught by a young girl in the yard of the Ridgeview Apartments Monday.

"They are coming in where we water the grass," Rick Porter, assistant manager at Ridgeview Apartments, said.

And where there is a baby, there is sure to be a mother.

"We think there is more than one out there," Porter said.

Ann Franklin of the Moffat County Extension Office said the rattlesnakes move toward water and shade. With the summer heat, many yards are being watered. This damp, cool water can prove to be a rattlesnake haven.

Vegetation that has ground-level foliage provides hiding spots for rattlesnakes. This vegetation should be removed or properly pruned.

"The major thing is to keep grass short so you can see (snakes) in it," Franklin said. "But there is not a whole lot you can do."

When known to be abundant, rattlesnakes detract from the enjoyment of outdoor activities. According to the Extension Office, the human fear of rattlesnakes is much greater then the hazard, and many harmless snakes inadvertently get killed as a result.

While keeping all rattlesnakes away may be difficult, there are things people can do to keep them away, according to the Moffat County Extension Office.

n Build a rattlesnake-proof fence. The fencing must be tight and if wire mesh is used, it should be 1/4-inch mesh and about three feet height. Bury the bottom three or four inches or bend outward three or more inches of the base of the wire to discourage other animals from digging under the fence. Put the stakes on the inside and install a gate that is tight fitting at the sides and bottom, equipped with a self-closing spring. Tight-fitting doors will prevent snakes from entering outbuildings.

n Modify habitat to deter vipers. Snakes will not remain in a habitat made less favorable. Hiding places under buildings, piles of debris or dense vegetation should be removed. Hay barns and fed storage areas that encourage rodents will attract rattlers.

n There is a rattlesnake hunting season in Colorado. Other stipulations exist when it comes to shooting rattlers. It is advised to check with the Department of Wildlife or Game and Fish Department.

n Rattlers cannot be frightened away. Sounds will not work because snakes are deaf.

n Repellents and toxins are ineffective. Apparently, digestion in snakes is too slow for toxicants to have an effect.

It may be possible to kill rattlesnakes in burrows and rock dens with toxic gas, although this is not considered a practical method. In the spring and summer, when hibernating snakes are about to emerge, gasoline poured down a or burrow or into a den will drive snakes out.

When the snakes exit they can be clubbed, shot or captured alive with snake tongues. Toxic methods may be effective in reducing rattlesnake numbers, but it may be lethal to non-target animals including non-poisonous and beneficial snakes.

While almost impossible to completely eliminate large snake populations, most people in snake country learn to keep their eyes open and be cautious.

Rattlesnakes would rather avoid human interaction than harm, Franklin said, and they give you a warning call (rattling) before you get too close. Rattlesnakes do bite when threatened.

The best protection for

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