However, Falk advises residents to understand the difference between
rattlesnakes and nonvenomous snakes such as the king snake.
"Nonvenomous snakes should be left where they are," Falk said. "A king
snake not only competes with rattle snakes for food, but also drives them
If a resident finds a rattlesnake, they should call Animal Control or
the police immediately.
"We grab and release snakes far from homes," Falk explained. "However,
an animal will be euthanized if it is injured or if a police officer is
called to a high priority emergency."
Fortunately no one -- neither human nor animal -- has been bitten this
year. But as the days get hotter, rattlesnake sightings may increase.
Typically people encounter a snake when it is sunning itself or
cooling down, said Falk. The subspecies of rattlesnakes seen in Laguna --
the red diamond, west diamond and Pacific green -- are nonaggressive and
will retreat if they sense a human or animal approaching.
"When a snake feels the vibration of someone approaching, it wants to
get away before it gets stepped on or is eaten," she said.
If it feels cornered, it will strike.
When people or animals are bitten, Falk said, it occurs when they
accidentally stumble upon a snake cooling itself off in tall grasses or
under boxes. Avoiding these kinds of accidents is simple.
"Keep your backyard, frontyard, garage and areas around the home clear
of refuse, boxes and leaves," she said.
She also warned pool owners to keep towels and water toys off the
ground, another attraction for warm snakes. For gardeners with thick
ground covers, she advised probing the area with a hoe or shovel to give
a snake a chance to get out of the way.
However if one is bitten, there are simple steps to follow.
"First you want to avoid tight tourniquets," said Sam Sunshine, a
physician with the South Coast Medical Center. "Don't make any incisions
to the wound or suck out the venom."
He advised victims to use a wide, flat constriction band and keep it
tight enough so two fingers could comfortably slip underneath.