Jamie Marou is still recovering 10 days after she was bit by a rattlesnake. It’s a scare the 31-year-old will never forget.
“Everything was tingling – like my eyelids, my cheeks, my teeth, my gums – everything, my finger tips.”
She was with her family flying kites on a trail in the coulee near her house in Lethbridge. That’s when she felt a jabbing pain in her ankle.
“I had two puncture wounds… and I looked beyond my foot and there was a rattlesnake,” Marou said.
She was in the hospital for two days and needed 14 vials of anti-venom. Since then, she has had difficulty moving and needs a walker.
“I haven’t been able to work… I haven’t been able to take care of my kids,” she said.
Ryan Heavy Head, an ecological consultant with the city, says if you are bitten, it’s important to stay calm and not run.
“That’s going to move the venom through your blood stream quicker and there is a chance that if you run into one rattlesnake, there might be another one very nearby,” Heavy Head said.
He stressed rattlesnake bites are not common in the city. They only happen once every five or 10 years.
He also recommends being cautious and wearing pants or hiking boots when you are in the coulees or other areas around Lethbridge.
“If you are going to get bit by a rattlesnake, it’s going to be around the ankle, foot. Most of the rattlesnakes here are not strike prone, so you really have to agitate the snake,” Heavy Head said.
The city is using social media to create more awareness about rattlesnakes in the area. It also plans to put up more warning signs.
“There is wildlife around here and some of that wildlife is pretty difficult to see,” Dave Henley, senior bylaw officer with the City of Lethbridge, said.
Marou is not going to venture into the coulees anytime soon, and when she does, she will be more cautious.
“Maybe walk with a stick and have that in front of you,” she said. “You can sort of scare them away… Even little things like that.”
Heavy Head guesses there are 400 rattlesnakes in West Lethbridge alone.