Rattlesnake advice if you’re spending time in the great outdoors

State wildlife officials are offering some advice to Utahns who may encounter a rattlesnake this summer. Photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service

With all there is to do in our surrounding mountains — camping, hiking, mountain biking and fishing — there also might be an occasional encounter with a rattlesnake.

KJ Pollock of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest said understanding a little about rattlesnakes is an important first step.

“The whole Uinta-Wasatch-Cache is rattlesnake country. You have to be aware they are out there.

“You always want to make sure where you are putting your hands and feet,” said Pollock. “Take a careful look, they do hide under rocks. They are camouflaged in the grasses and under bushes.

`”Watch any animals you have with you. If they are sniffing around an area, you might want to hang on to them in case there is something in those bushes.”

She said you cannot count on a rattlesnake to rattle before it strikes.

“That’s rights. You have to be really cautious. They are most likely to rattle when they are frightened and feel they are in danger.”

The best advice when hiking is to stay on paths or in clearings.

“We ask that individuals stay on trails, don’t cut the switchbacks. Be very careful walking in tall grass, make sure you are wearing high boots and not low cut shoes or sandals.”

Pollock’s advice if you come across a rattlesnake is maintain a safe distance.

“Stay at least a body-length away from a snake. They can normally strike about half of their body length. Just back away.”

Snakes avoid the heat just like humans.

“They are cold-blooded. They will try to find shade and cover. Again, be very cautious where you are sitting and where you are sticking your fingers. They are as much afraid of you as you are of them.”

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