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ADELANTO — Local rattlesnake expert Joe Banashek says lower nighttime temperatures in the High Desert are causing rattlesnakes to become more active.
As such, he recommends the public to be aware and take precautions.
“I’m seeing movement with this cooler weather,” Banashek said. “You never know if they’re going to strike or not, and you don’t have to step on them to get them to strike.”
The Adelanto-based snake researcher said he caught three Mojave green rattlesnakes over the weekend that were in and around his yard. He said one was found under his car on Saturday night.
“They’re not active during the day,” Banashek said. “Usually around sundown, 9 p.m., is when you’re going to have them be really active.”
In times of the year when days are warm and nights are cooler, the cold-blooded creatures move around after sundown to search for a warm place.
Banashek said especially with the upcoming Labor Day holiday, more people will be out hiking and enjoying the weather, and residents should be “very vigilant” about their surroundings.
“People assume that if there’s people around, there’s not snakes,” Banashek said. “That’s so untrue; they can be anywhere. (People) think everything is OK because they haven’t seen any snakes, and then all of a sudden ... you drop your keys or something and go to grab them and your hand is right there next to a snake.”
The Mojave green rattlesnake, a common snake in the High Desert, has a neurotoxic venom that makes it one the most deadly snakes in North America. Banashek says “Mojave green” is something of a misnomer because the snake is mostly brown in color.
Banashek said another myth is that young rattlesnakes are more venomous and cannot control their venom glands. He said young rattlesnakes have smaller venom glands and fangs and therefore release less venom, but this does not make them any less dangerous.
If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, Banashek said you should remain calm, rinse the bite area with water only, remove all constricting clothing or jewelry and get to a place where you can be transported or immediately call 9-1-1.
He said do not take any kind of aspirin or NSAID pain reliever, such as Advil or Tylenol.
After being initially treated by local paramedics, bite victims are often transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center, which specializes in treating venomous snake bites.
“Never drive yourself,” he said. “You could pass out going down the pass, down to Loma Linda. That could cause all kinds of accidents and traffic; it’s not a good idea.”
Anneli Fogt can be reached at AFogt@VVDailyPress.com or 760-951-6276. Follow her on Twitter @DP_anneli_fogt.