If you hear what sounds like a million angry locusts near you on an early morning hike, scan the area and get out of range, stat. You may have made the acquaintance of a rattlesnake, one of the more deadly #OnlyInSedona critters.
While you might feel understandably frightened, most rattlers will leave you alone if you show them the same respect. Still, if you plan on spending time around these parts, it pays to learn about this creature. Here are eight facts you should know about the rattlesnake, a fascinating Sedona critter.
1. Discover 13 Lucky Varieties
They don’t call this the wild, wild west for nothing. Arizona boasts 13 lucky varieties of rattlesnake, and many of them make Sedona their home.
Most species don’t grow larger than three feet in length, although their venom packs a far larger punch. The western diamondback is the lengthiest, heftiest species you’ll find in these woods. While five feet may not sound like very much, you probably wouldn’t relish sharing your fishing boat with one of these critters.
2. Tap Your Fingers
Fortunately, like many snakes, rattlers only want to live their lives in peace. They don’t stalk the dusty trail, searching for humans to bite. The majority of run-ins occur when a careless foot treads where it shouldn’t.
Rattlesnakes are so considerate that they will warn you away with their signature sound if they see you before you spot them. How do they produce their rattle? As they shed, the last bits harden into keratin, which is the stuff that also makes up your fingernails. It’s like Mr. Burns tapping his fingernails and saying “excellent” — only several decibels louder.
3. Keep Yourself Out of Range
If a rattlesnake decides to strike, they have some mad hops. While they usually only extend a third of the length of their bodies, you can’t accurately judge how long they are when they lie curled.
Therefore, if you see a snake, stay at least three to six feet away — the further, the better. Don’t try to creep closer for a selfie. You won’t look right purdy with your face swollen up from venom.
4. Shake Out Yer Boots
If you remember Biology 101, you’ll recall that snakes are cold-blooded critters. As such, they rely on external means to keep warm.
That hiking shoe you left outside your tent looks like an inviting B&B to a chilly rattler, and his friends on the arachnid crew, too. It’s adorable when Woody from “Toy Story” cries, “there’s a snake in my boots.” It’s far less hilarious and endearing when you scream it in the wild..
5. Watch Your Step on Morning HIkes
Rattlesnakes don’t have feet, and they haven’t yet invented a belly-slipper. Therefore, when they wake up in the morning, they feel cold.
Since they don’t sip coffee, either, rattlers warm up by seeking out the sun. Therefore, mind where you step on early morning hikes during warm weather when they are most active.
6. Clean Up Your Yard
If you’re thinking of calling Sedona your home, howdy, neighbor! Welcome to the neighborhood. If you don’t want any rattlesnakes waiting to give you a surprise homecoming, one of your first orders of business should involve clearing the brush around your home.
Other ways to deter these critters from calling your house their home include the following:
- Fence it in: A concrete block fence sunk into the ground can prevent outside ratters from coming in and saying hi.
- Lift it up: If you have a wood-burning fireplace, keep your woodpile elevated off the ground to deter snakes from building nests.
- Keep it trim: Overgrown bushes — especially around Cheryl’s she-shed — can hide snakes. To a rattler, there are few better dens than one under an exterior building guarded by briars.
- Light it up: You don’t want to tread on a rattler soaking up the last of the warmth from your concrete walkway as the sun sets. Install lighting along walkways.
7. Learn Snakebite First Aid
Snakebite fatalities can result as much from improper first aid techniques as the toxin. Please forget the silly notion that you should try to suck out the venom. If your partner got bit, and you tried this trick, you could become poisoned through tiny cuts in your mouth. Now you have two hikers in distress.
According to the Aussie Red Cross — because if anyone knows dangerous critters better than Arizonans, it’s the folks down under — first get out of further harm’s way. Move slowly and keep the bite above your heart if possible. Cover the wound with a sterile wrap, and if bitten on a limb, work from the extremity upward to slow the venom’s spread.
8. Respect Rattlers and Admire Them From Afar
Finally, please admire rattlers from afar. If you find one on the trail, leave it be. If one wanders onto your property, call a professional exterminator — save the shovel.
While not endangered, rattlesnakes play a vital role in the ecosystem. Mother Nature had her reason for giving this desert fellow a robust defense system. Respect it.
Don’t Tread on that Rattler: All About Rattlesnakes, a Deadly #OnlyInSedona Critter
You will never mistake a rattler’s distinctive sound once you hear it. When out on your hikes, please watch out for the rattlesnake, a fascinating Sedona critter.