San Diego hasn't had much of a winter this year, and the warm weather has resulted in more than triple the number of rattlesnake calls to the County’s Department of Animal Services (DAS), according to officials.
DAS says that since Jan. 1, it has received 78 calls reporting rattlesnakes across San Diego County. That’s more than three times the number of rattlesnake calls during this same time period last year, when 24 calls came in.
DAS Director Dawn Danielson said weather like the kind residents have been experiencing this season is enticing to rattlesnakes.
“Our very mild winter and several heat spells are drawing the rattlesnakes out of their dens a little earlier this year,” Danielson explained.
Typically, rattlesnakes wait until spring to come out of hibernation. DAS recommends locals discourage the critters from making themselves at home in yards by getting rid of any possible shelter or food for rattlesnakes, including heaps of trash, wood piles, mice and rats.
Also, if you spot a rattlesnake on your property, calmly back away from the critter and leave it alone. Then, call DAS for assistance in safely removing the snake.
DAS also suggests being aware of your surroundings at all times if you are walking anywhere snakes might be, which means avoiding becoming distracted by your cell phone. If you’re walking your dog,
keep it on a leash, that way you can pull your pet away quickly if you encounter a rattlesnake.
Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes while walking or hiking and stay on paths or trails, and avoid tall grass, weeds and brush where snakes might hide. Also, make sure you can always see the path ahead of you and look for snakes that might blend into the ground before picking up rocks or sticks.
Residents of unincorporated areas of San Diego County or the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee or Solana Beach can call DAS at (619) 236-2341 to report a rattlesnake sighting. All other residents can call the animal control agency for their respective city.
If you’re bitten by a rattlesnake, immediately call 911 and remove any constricting clothing or accessories like rings or watches.