Rattlesnakes may be unwanted visitors this summer
Due to the dry conditions this summer, rattlesnakes may be making their way to town looking for cool, moist places to wait out the 90-degree heat, according to one local expert.
“We’ve had reports from the west end of town that they’re coming in from the field,” said Tony Stoffle, sportsmen’s information specialist with the Craig Chamber of Commerce. “They like to find a cool place.”
The local animal control officer said she has not had any calls about snakes in town and The Memorial Hospital has not treated any snakebites yet this year, but Stoffle said people should be aware that snakes might be more likely to seek refuge in town this summer.
“People should be aware of snakes especially with the hotter, drier weather right now,” he said. “Just like everything else snakes are looking for moisture.”
There are precautionary steps people can take, he said.
“Train your kids to keep away from snakes and check the ground if you do a lot of watering,” he said. “They like a lot of heavy brush. Trim down below bushes so you can see around them.”
If you do see a snake in the yard or while out hiking, simply stay away, Stoffle said.
“The best thing you can do is back away if you see or hear them,” he said. “Don’t try to kill them. That’s when people usually get bitten.”
Dr. Joy Moritz at the Craig Medical Center said more than 80 percent of snakebites occur on the hand, which means bites usually occur when people try to handle snakes.
“If you see a snake do not try to pick it up or kill it,” she said.
If a person does get bitten there are several things people should and should not do.
“Don’t cut into the bite and never try to suck the venom out,” Stoffle said. “Get treatment and while you’re waiting, keep the person as calm and quiet as possible.”
It can be of some benefit to doctors if the type of snake that made the bite can be identified, but it’s not that important, Moritz said.
“It can be of benefit if you bring it in but it’s not important enough to get bit again,” she said.
Most deaths occur from multiple snakebites, she said.
Moritz said people should put a splint on the part of the body that is bitten and stay as still as possible.
Send someone else to get help and most importantly, avoid panic, she said.
“Rest as much as possible and drink a lot of water,” she said.
Moritz said she didn’t think people would see snakes during the day because it is too warm.
“They’ll probably only be out at night because it’s too hot for them,” she said.
Stoffle said people should remember that snakes aren’t invading human territory if they come to town.
“Snakes were here long before we were,” he said. “This is their natural habitat.”
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