LETHBRIDGE – A reminder amid the recent warm weather to be mindful of who you’re sharing the outdoors with, as rattlesnakes emerge from a long winter of hibernation.
The reptile is a master of camouflage with their dry, prairie grass color and can often be found in parks in the southwest part of the city.
Coordinator with the Helen Schuler Nature Centre, Coreen Putman, says rattlesnakes would usually rather retreat than strike.
“They’re actually one of the most shy species of snakes, they don’t want to be around people. If given the opportunity they will take the option of trying to get away from you,” she says.
It’s when the snake is surprised, threatened or taunted that it will strike, often releasing its poisonous venom.
“There has never been a recorded death from a rattlesnake bite in southern Alberta, ever. Although venom could make you sick, it could hurt, so it’s important to go seek medical attention,” Putman explains.
The warning is also significant for pet owners.
Veterinarian at Family Pet Hospital, Kate Lupton, says a rattle snake bite is a medical emergency for pets.
“The bite itself, the venom contains a lot of different toxins. So it can do a lot of damage to the tissue, suffocation of the skin, create heart problems, liver problems,” she says.
The best way to avoid an encounter with a rattlesnake is to be aware of your surroundings.
If you come across a snake you are advised to back away slowly and give it space to escape.