FEBRUARY 12, 2014

Warmer temperatures mean snakes are active

Phoenix Herpetological Society provides advice on snake safety
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rattlesnakeSCOTTSDALE – As the weather warms, the Phoenix Herpetological Society has begun receiving calls to remove snakes from backyards and others areas, and wants to remind people about living safely with these wildlife.

Most important is to look where you are stepping or reaching outdoors, and avoid sticking your hands in areas where you can’t see what you may be touching, says Debbie Gibson, Vice President of the Phoenix Herpetological Society.

“When it’s hot during the day, snakes hide in shady or damp areas,” she says. “Under a bush with a drip system is heaven to them. When people go out in the morning and start trimming bushes or working in the yard, they need to check before putting their hands or feet where they can’t see.”

And, she warns: “Snakes don’t have ears, so they can’t hear you coming.”

Other tips for living with snakes safely include carrying a flashlight after dark and walking away if you encounter a snake.

Homeowners often put themselves at risk when trying to deal with a snake on their property – an estimated 80 to 90 percent of rattlesnake bites happen when homeowners take matters into their own hands.

What to do if bitten by a rattlesnake:
• Call 911 and stay calm.
• Keep the bitten area still. You can immobilize the area with an improvised splint made from a board, magazines, or other stiff material tied to the limb (but don't tie it too tight because you don't want to reduce blood flow). Remove any jewelry or constricting items near the affected area in case of swelling.
• Elevate the extremity that’s bitten.

• Drive yourself to the hospital.
• Use ice to cool the bite.
• Cut open the wound and try to suck out the venom.
• Use a tourniquet. This will cut off blood flow and the limb may be lost.  

At least 13 species of rattlesnake and a few other types of venomous snakes make their home in Arizona. However, far more non-venous snakes are found in the state.

Phoenix Herpetological Society also wants people to understand that killing a snake or other reptile isn’t the best way of dealing with these creatures. “We teach the public that wildlife plays a major role in our world, and that we are encroaching on their homes,” adds Gibson. “We can co-exist if we understand how.”

For more information about the Phoenix Herpetological Society, call 602-550-1090 or go to www.phoenixherp.com.

About the Phoenix Herpetological Society
Phoenix Herpetological Society (PHS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of rescued reptiles and educating the public about living with these amazing creatures of the desert. PHS was founded in 2001, and operates a reptile sanctuary on two acres of privately owned land in north Scottsdale. It works with state wildlife officials to care for and house reptiles, and serves as a resource for humane societies across the country. It also provides education to Arizona youth, teaching co-existence, respect, understanding and responsible reptile ownership through public and private schools.

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