Ahhhh San Diego! Home of the endless outdoor activities to enjoy with Fido. Gorgeous beaches, parks and trails, there’s a reason they call this city Dog City USA- truly no better climate to adventure with your best friend. But if you hit the trails, please keep in mind, with hot and dry weather has gone down you still need to be on alert of possible RATTLESNAKES. I know you’re probably asking yourself, in February, really? Yes, really!
Rattlesnake season looks like it has barked upon an early spring this year. Sightings come as soon as late February, and early March.
Fire officials say the snakes are coming out of hibernation ahead of schedule because of our recent warm weather. According to the County Department of Parks and Recreation, most rattlesnake sightings occur in April, May and June!
Just last year I came across one in mid- March during an afternoon run on the lagoon trails off the 5 freeway and Via De La Valle in Del Mar. Jogging along, minding my own business not to mention I had my headset on, when suddenly halfway through the run I noticed a big snake stretched across the center of the trail ahead of me… and instantly I knew it was a rattlesnake because the rattle was facing up! UGH!! What was even more startling was my dog Jack was off the leash, sniffing the ground like usual and could have easily been bit. Luckily, he didn’t notice the snake because just in time I was managed to retrieve him back towards me with a call.
We haven’t had any run ins with any rattlesnakes since-probably because we’ve been avoiding the trails all together until rattlesnake season clears. But, for those of your courageous enough to take on the tails, please take extra precautions.
Below is the picture I managed to snap of the bastard with my shaky hand. I was so scared!
More and more sightings of rattlesnakes are being reported. For those of you still willing to take advantage of the beautiful mountain and lagoon trails, my friend John Van Zante from Rancho Coastal Humane Society put together a “go to” Rattlesnake article with tips to prepare you and your pup in case you come across a snake.
Van Zante Says “Sunset is when you’re most likely to encounter a rattlesnake. People need footwear that gives protection. Keep your dog on a leash and on a well-used trail and carry a stick. Hitting the bushes can scare snakes away.”
Other basic rules and tips can save pets and their owners:
* Don’t go places where there are likely to be snakes
* Don’t put your paws, hands or feet where you can’t see (like under a log or rock)
* Look before you leap. Step on a rock or log instead of jumping over it
* Take your cell phone for emergency (not to talk or text while you hike)
* If you stop to rest, look before you sit
* Be careful around water. Snakes can swim and they look like sticks in the water.
* If you see a snake…leave it alone!
Van Zante says that a rattlesnake’s strike distance can be one third to one half the length of its body and it’s faster than a human eye can see.
What should you do if you or your pet is bitten by a rattler? “Probably most difficult, try to remain calm. If you panic or run, that spreads the venom faster. Call 911 ASAP, because you want that antivenin within two hours of the bite if possible ,” Van Zante advises.
Try to remember what the snake looks like. Your veterinarian, pet hospital, or Emergency Room will want to know how big, what color, shape of head, and anything else you can tell them.
“We’ve also heard of people who pick up what they think is a dead snake, only to find that it’s resting. And even if it’s freshly dead, the bite-reflex can still be there. Leave it alone,” Van Zante added.
“And that old myth about sucking the venom out of a snake bite….That’s a myth. ” – JVZ
Please be careful out there! Not JUST on the trails, but outside in general be aware of fido’s surroundings. Many San Diego county rattlesnake encounters and unfortunately bites are surfacing in household backyards, near swimming pools and inside the homes of families who leave back doors open.. and dogs for the most part are getting the short end of that stick.
See you on the beaches, parks and trails! Stay safe and STAY HYDRATED!!!!