Avoiding Snakebites

Wildlife experts are advising locals–especially dog owners–to take precautions against snakes during snake season and training dogs to stay away from danger.

Animal Expert, Ted Martinez, said that this time of year, before hibernation, snakes hunt during the day rather than at night, which increases the chances of an encounter.

According to Martinez, rattlesnakes can strike at a speed of seven-miles per hour without warning and they respond to movement.

Dog trainers are stressing the importance of ‘snake proofing’ your dog by holding classes that teach safety to both pet owners and dogs.

In these sessions, the dog is exposed to a muzzled snake and is trained to avoid the smell.

Experts say without snake training, a dog’s natural inclination is to sniff out the snake, which could be dangerous both for the dog and for its owner—especially this time of year.

“Dogs—they’ll see the movement, the flicking of the tongue, or they’ll smell the snake in a bush and they’ll go to investigate. So they’re going to get hit, typically in the face,” Martinez said.

Snakes are expected to be active until mid-December, so if you do encounter a rattlesnake, experts suggest remaining still then slowly backing away from the snake to avoid a potentially fatal bite.

Shannon Lilly is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News Service, a service from the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach her at smlilly@email.arizona.edu.

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