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As the weather heats up so do the reports of rattlesnakes

A rattlesnake slithers along the walkway at the Health and Human Services Building near Feather River College. Photos submitted

Rattlesnake sightings are increasing, with a couple reported at Feather River College and the county’s Health and Human Services Building last week. There also have been numerous sightings along Chandler Road in East Quincy.

According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive and usually strike only when threatened or provoked. If possible, they will retreat. Most snakebites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing, and typically occur on hands, feet and ankles. According to the California Poison Control Center, most bites occur between April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors.

There are many snakes, so it is important to be able to determine whether or not it’s a rattler.

Following is a description provided by Fish and Wildlife: A rattlesnake is a heavy-bodied, blunt-tailed snake with one or more rattles on the tail. It has a triangular-shaped head, much broader at the back than at the front, and a distinct “neck” region. The rattlesnake also has openings between the nostrils and eyes, which is a heat-sensing pit. The eyes are hooded with elliptical pupils. Rattlesnakes have a series of dark and light bands near the tail, just before the rattles, which are different from the markings on the rest of the body. Rattles may not always be present, as they are often lost through breakage and are not always developed on the young.

The dos and don’ts in snake country

Look closely. There is a rattlesnake wedged into a retaining wall near Feather River College. It was reported that the snake would strike at passersby.

Look closely. There is a rattlesnake wedged into a retaining wall near Feather River College. It was reported that the snake would strike at passersby. (click to enlarge)

Wear hiking boots and loose-fitting long pants.

Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.

When hiking, stick to well-used trails.

Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.

Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark.

Step on logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood.

Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.

Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.

Be careful when stepping over doorsteps as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.

Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.

Do not handle a freshly killed snake, as it can still inject venom.

Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone.

In the event of a snakebite

Bram DeMartile (out of the picture) picks up a rattlesnake with a snake pole at the Plumas County Health and Human Services Building last week. DeMartile, who provides security for the building, transported the snake away from the campus and released it.

Stay calm.

Wash the bite area gently with soap and water.

Remove watches, rings, etc, which may constrict swelling.

Immobilize the affected area.

Transport safely to the nearest medical facility.

For more first aid information, visit California Poison Control at calpoison.com.

What not to do after a rattlesnake bite:

Don’t apply a tourniquet.

Don’t pack the bite area in ice.

Don’t cut the wound with a knife or razor.

Don’t use your mouth to suck out the venom.

Don’t let the victim drink alcohol.

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