A reminder from the East Bay Regional Park District that Spring and Summer are active snake seasons in parks and open spaces. As the weather heats up, rattlesnakes especially become more active. They, like humans, like to explore when the weather gets warm. Snakes are able to regulate their body temperature by moving in and out of shade. A warmer body allows a snake to move faster when trying to catch prey. Depending upon the kind of snake, they eat insects, slugs, frogs, birds, bird eggs, small mammals, and other reptiles.
Several kinds of snakes live in the Bay Area. Most snakes are harmless to humans and pets, but any snake will bite in self-defense. Because a rattlesnake bite is poisonous, it is considered a medical emergency: call 9-1-1.
Within the past week, the Park District staff has received six reports of rattlesnake sightings, including today when a 47 year old male who was bitten by a rattlesnake this afternoon near the top of Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont. The victim was taken by helicopter to the hospital and is recovering. Over the weekend a pet dog was bitten by a rattlesnake at Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore on the Arroyo side along the trail. A park ranger assisted the owner to his car so the dog could be taken to his vet. Additional rattlesnake sightings were reported at Castlerock Regional Recreation Area in Walnut Creek in a picnic area, on the Delta DeAnza Regional Trail in Pittsburg as well as in the parking lot outside of EBRPD Police Headquarters at Lake Chabot Regional Park. No snake bites were reported with those incidents.
Park staff urges taking snake safety precautions when visiting regional parks especially at this time of year. A Common Snakes brochure is available and may be downloaded from the Park District’s website, www.ebparks.org. Search for “common snakes.”
Learn to recognize a rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes have a triangular head, much wider than the neck, thick body with dull skin, black and white bands on tail, blunt rattle at tip. May or may not shake rattle in warning. Rattle sounds like bacon sizzling. A gopher snake’s head is narrow, and only slightly larger than the neck.
If bitten by a rattlesnake, stay calm and send someone to Call 911. The victim should remain calm by lying down with the affected limb lower than the heart. If alone, walk calmly to the nearest source of help: another person, a park employee, or a phone to Dial 911. Do Not Run.
If bitten by any other kind of snake, leave the snake alone. Wash the wound with soap and water or an antiseptic and seek medical attention.