The San Diego heat is notorious for bringing out rattlesnakes and this year, rattlesnake sightings and calls are on the rise, according to Animal Services.
Daniel E. DeSousa, deputy director for the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, told NBC 7 that as of Thursday morning, Animal Service has received 385 calls reporting rattlesnakes throughout the county.
That’s compared to 356 calls at this same time last year. Animal Services’ numbers show that the highest number of rattlesnake calls came in March 2015 – with a total of 174 calls compared to 130 in March 2014.
DeSousa said the top zip code for rattlesnake calls is 92124 – the Tierrasanta area near Mission Trails Regional Park. So far, 32 calls have come from that zip code alone.
Other top zip codes for rattlesnake calls in 2015 include: 92131 (Scripps Ranch, with 27 calls so far); 92127 (4S Ranch, with 24 calls); 92129 (Rancho Penasquitos, with 23 calls); and 92130 (Carmel Valley, with 21 calls).
Last year’s popular rattlesnake zip codes included 92129, 92126, 92127, 92131 and 92123.
According to Animal Services, residents can discourage rattlers from making themselves at home by getting rid of wood piles, fallen fruit, garbage heaps and outdoor dog food bowls around homes and properties.
They attract mice and rats, which in turn attract snakes, the department said.
It’s important to remain alert and aware of your surroundings during rattlesnake season, as the critters tend to hide in tall grass, weeds and brush alongside paths.
Those who encounter a rattler should give the animal space and calmly back away from it.
The Department of Animal Services said the following rattlesnake precautions should be taken:
- Wear sturdy hiking boots with ankle support so that your feet are protected.
- Stay on paths and trails. Avoid tall grass, weeds and brush where snakes may hide.
- Make sure you can see where you are reaching and that you can see ahead of you. Look for concealed snakes before picking up rocks, sticks or wood.
- Consider bringing a walking stick while hiking. If you encounter a snake it may strike the stick instead of you or your pet.
- If you live in an area where rattlesnakes have been found, check your yard before letting your pets and children out to play.
There are five varieties of rattlesnakes found in San Diego County. If bitten, you should immediately call 911 and remove any constricting clothing or accessories from your body, like rings or watches.
If you spot a rattlesnake on your property and you live in unincorporated areas or Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee or Solana Beach, call County Animal Services at (619) 236-2341. Other residents should contact their local animal control departments for help.