Rattlesnake Season: What you need to know

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - We might all know the sound, but most of us have probably never seen a rattlesnake in person.  

This year there's a better chance you might. 

"You really have to be careful especially when you're going through tall grass," said Lana Fain, Zoo Manager at CALM. 

The reason?  Rain.  

Grass is growing well thanks to the much needed rain this year and a big piece of advice this rattlesnake season is to stay away from tall grass. 

But that's not the only place. 

"They don't stay in one area.  They will go where there is a food source so they could be in downtown Bakersfield, especially if you're by the riverbed," Fain said. 

So what if you see a rattlesnake? 

"Remove yourself from the area.  They'll go one way and you'll go the other way," Fain said. 

Snakes don't want to be around you anymore than you want to be around them. 

"Most wild animals and snakes are included, if they hear you coming, they know you're there, if they have a way to get out or escape then they will," said Dr. Paul Ulrich, Veterinarian at Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital.

Do not attempt to pick up a snake or try to scare it away. 

"If you back them into a situation where they feel there is no other recourse then they are going to become aggressive and then they will bite," Ulrich said. 

If you are bitten call 911. 

"You do need to remain calm.  I know that's a tall order to ask for here but the more that you get excited and the adrenalin in your heart starts pumping, you're moving that venom through your system," Fain said. 

The same goes for your pets. 

"A rattlesnake bite is a true veterinary emergency," Ulrich said. 

There is a rattlesnake vaccine for dogs and horses, made from the venom of the western diamondback, but it is not a solve all. 

"They still go through some of the swelling and some of the pain and some of the signs associated with a rattlesnake bite," Ulrich said. 

However the vaccine will likely shorten your pet's recovery time and could save it's life.  

The vaccine is offered around town for less than $100.

It does not protect against all types of rattlesnake in our area, such as the Mojave green found in the desert.

If interested in the vaccine for your dog or horse, talk to your veterinarian.

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