Wet weather this season means more rattlesnakes this spring.
Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo is also warning people that changes in topography and habitat from wildfires and flooding could mean more chances for encountering snakes and in unexpected places.
The zoo is getting the word out by providing visitors a crash course on how to stay safe.
Curator of reptiles Mark Halvorsen says this will be an unusual year for rattlesnakes in California, “You have more rain. You have more green grass, more food available for rodents and then that will produce more rattlesnakes in the next year and the years after.”
Now that the snakes are waking from hibernation, the zoo is teaching young and old some life-saving information.
Doctor Rais Vohra researches snake bites and helps teach doctors how to treat them.
He says, “There’s a lot of things we always see in the movies like the tourniquet and sucking on the wounds and cutting on the wounds. Those are things we do not recommend whenever you get bitten by a venomous snake. You just want to do a very light wrapping.”
Wrapping the wounded arm or leg with a stick will help keep it immobile and help support it if there’s swelling.
He says getting treatment right away is critical. “Get the anti-venom in the patient because the anti-venom literally neutralizes the venom and stops the venom from digesting the patient’s tissue.”
Ultrasounds are one way snake bites are studied. “You can actually demonstrate that the damage is actually quite superficial and that’s why it doesn’t take very long to recover from a snake bite. It takes only a few weeks which is on the grand scheme of things a very short amount of time for the amount of damage that you see visible with your eyes.”