Rattlesnake Season


Hi all, living in Southern California certainly has its perks. But we aren’t the only ones who take advantage of this wonderful climate and beautiful terrain. Who am I speaking of? Well, rattlesnakes, of course! Yes our slithering friends that love to sunbathe in the middle of our favorite hiking trails or rest in the tall grass along the side,  where our dogs love to hunt for lizards. I’m going to give you some pointers on avoiding these nope ropes and info on how to identify if your dog has indeed been bitten by Mr. Slithers.

While getting my certification in animal behavior we had a small but mighty informative class on snakes. I even worked with one on set! A snake actor?? Get outta town! Venomous snakes take about 2 weeks to produce enough venom to take out their prey. Evolution has it so that evolved snakes will not release venom into something it can’t eat, so if threatened by something larger than it can swallow it my just do a dry bite. HOWEVER, it’s not to say it will never happen, Rumplesnakeskin may be feeling a little ambitious or he may not be the highly evolved creature we hope he is. If you suspect your dog has been bitten you must get it to the vet right away.


Immediate symptoms almost always include:

  • puncture wounds (can be bleeding)

  • severe pain

  • swelling

  • restlessness, panting, or drooling

Depending on how much venom the bite injected into your dog, and the size of your dog, any of these more severe symptoms may appear quickly or within a few hours:

  • lethargy, weakness, sometimes collapse

  • muscle tremors

  • diarrhea

  • seizures

  • neurological signs including depressed respiration


  • Keep dogs leashed at all times

  • Avoid tall grass

  • Listen for warning signs

  • Scan the trail ahead

  • Communicate with other hikers

While walking your dog during snake season always use a 6 foot leash, walk without headphones so you can hear any warning sounds. It’ll sound almost like a yard sprinkler and it’ll be a few seconds before you make the connection. Keep your dog on the path and out of the tall grass. If you see a rattlesnake calmly and slowly walk away from it. Its striking distance is about the length of its body. It doesn't want to bother you but will strike if it feels threatened. Communicate with other hikers. Lots of times I am made aware of a snake on a path by other hikers. I once had a dog that found herself nose to nose with a rattlesnake. In that situation, I calmly grabbed her by her hindquarters and pulled her to safety. Had I grabbed her collar the snake could have startled and bitten either of us. There is no need to kill or harm the snake in anyway. Snakes are very important to the ecosystem. So give it some space and continue on your way.