Southern California Rattlesnake Bites on the Rise

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Southern California Rattlesnake Bites on the Rise

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Since April 1st, the Poison Control Hotline has received 20 calls about people either being bitten by rattlesnakes or having a friend or family member who has been bit, according to the OC Register.

This figure did not reflect on all of those who sought medical attention after being bitten, rather than calling the hotline, this number was so high that the Poison Control Center put out a statewide warning for any California resident that frequently hikes, camps, or does outdoor recreational activities, according to the OC Register.

Most bites occur between the months of April and October, according to Certified Provider Credentialing Specialist (CPCS).

Jason Magee, owner of OC Snake Removal, said, “As far as I can see, I believe the numbers will continue to grow throughout the year, to this point it’s roughly a 15 percent increase. With the decent rainfall we had last year, more snakes reproduced and because of that, we are seeing more yearlings this year.”

If bitten, the victim can expect to experience extreme pain, swelling at the location of the bite, excessive bleeding, nausea, swelling in the mouth and throat. In cases where medical attention wasn’t sought right away, patients have gone into shock and died, according to the OC Register.

Dr. Rais Vohra, Medical Director for the Fresno/Madera Division of CPCS said, “If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, immediate medical attention is critical. Severe or even life-threatening symptoms may occur within minutes after the bite, or in other cases may begin after couple of hours. In either event, your best bet is to get to a hospital as soon as you can.”

If bit, follow these instructions:

  • Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Do not apply ice, do not use a tourniquet or constricting band, do not try to suck out the venom, and do not use any device to cut or slice the bite site.
  • Keep calm, do not run and keep the affected extremity elevated during transport to a medical facility.

Poison Control offered this advice for hikers.

  • Wear boots and long pants when hiking.
  • Stay on trails when hiking, away from underbrush and tall weeds.
  • Do not touch or disturb a snake, even if it appears dead.
  • Carefully inspect logs or rocks before sitting on them.
  • Never hike alone in remote areas. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
  • Teach children to respect snakes and to leave them alone.

Many hikers have shared their experiences with the bites at theguardian.com; Usually, the snake isn’t hostile and people wind up stepping on it or getting too close by accident. You should always check before you step, before you step over that log in the trail, step on top of it, and check under the other side for a rattlesnake.


Call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 for questions about poison encounters. Trained pharmacists, nurses and other providers are available to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free and confidential, and interpreters are available.

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