Experts advise to be extra careful of rattlesnakes this summer

FRESNO, Calif. - The warm weather is bringing animals out for the summer, especially rattlesnakes. Experts say this year we'll likely see more of these snakes all around the Central Valley.

Mark Halvorsen, Fresno Chaffee Zoo's curator of herpetology, said the warm weather is bringing out some rattlesnakes early from hibernation. He said it's expected there will be even more rattlesnakes because there will be more rodents around, thanks to our very wet winter.

When there's an increase of an animal, they tend to move outside of native habitats, according to Halvorsen.

"You might see some of them in the agricultural fields, and some of the orchards and groves just outside of town in the north," said Halvorsen.

One area likely to see an increased presence of rattlesnakes is the northern area of Woodward Park. To avoid them, Halvorsen advises people to buddy up when going on a run or hike. Also, to stay on the marked or manmade paths.

If you do get bit by a rattlesnake, it's important to get yourself to an emergency room as soon as possible. Also, most importantly, don't panic. Rais Vohra, the associate medical director at the California Poison Control System, said the bite's damage often is superficial.

"It's not really getting deep into the muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments," said Vohra. "The things we actually need to use our limbs."

You can find Dennis Duffy running with his friends in the northern part of Woodward Park. He follows rattlesnake safety whenever he's out there, to the point it's become second nature to do.

"It's instinct now. I'm careful if I see something that's just coiled," Duffy said.

For pets, it's important owners make sure they follow the same safety advice. If you have a dog, for example, make sure they stay on the marked or manmade paths with you. Be careful not to take off their leash and let them roam free where the snakes might be.

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