Warmer temperatures bring increased rattlesnake presence

By Taylor Chartrand
May 9, 2019 - 4:38pm Updated: May 9, 2019 - 7:25pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB - With double digit temperatures now controlling the forecast, rattlesnakes in southern Alberta are coming out of hibernation. 

With that, Cypress View Veterinary Clinic recently had their first snake-bite case of 2019.

"Well, we probably get a couple each year," explained Director of Administration, Tammy Duggan. "Maybe as many as 5? It's not hugely common, but certainly something to be aware of."

Earlier this week, an eight-year-old dog by the name of Breeze was bit while out walking near Redcliff.

Duggan says Breeze suffered only minor injuries and believes the dog will be just fine, thanks to her owners quick actions.

"The sooner they can get the pet to us for treatment, the better. Death isn't a given, for sure, but infection and the pain is severe, so we want to get to treating the pets as soon as possible.

Park Interpreter Marty Drut says this unfortunate incident didn't surprise him, as snakes are making their way out of their dens to mate, as well as find food and warmth.

"Typically, what we'll find, is they'll be on an open trail or some asphalt and they're trying to get warm to do their activities," explained Drut. "So, you just want to avoid stepping on them if you can." 

If you happen to get bit by a rattler, Drut says the best thing you can do is remain calm.

"A typical, healthy adult would have time to get medical attention and be taken care of. So, you don't need to panic. Just stay calm and try to get seen by a medical-professional as soon as possible."

And one particular rattler you don't want to get bit by are the baby-rattlers.

"The adult snakes have a little bit more control of how much venom they can inject into someone, where with the young snakes, they haven't learned that as well and so they may give you a full dose."

To avoid being bit, Drut has one piece of information that may help you out on your adventures.

"If you do stumble upon one and it's getting angry towards you, just leave it alone, go in the other direction or go around it."

Drut added you'll have a better chance at avoiding snakes if you stay out of the tall grass and away from holes that look like snake dens.

For more info on the prairie rattler, click here.


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