How to protect your family and pets during rattlesnake season

HERRIMAN, Utah — Rattlesnakes are beginning to emerge from their dens and some are making their way into neighborhoods.

A family in Herriman encountered a snake in their yard and it bit a dog.

“He started drooling and his face looked swollen and he started acting kind of lethargic,” said Trisha Rodriguez when describing how her dog acted after it suffered the bite.

She took the pet to the veterinarian where it was given anti-venom medicine.  The dog survived the bite, but this experience demonstrates a lesson in what not to do if you encounter a venomous snake.

“If you see a snake, the best thing to do is give them space,” said Chuck Becker, a reptile keeper at Utah’s Hogle Zoo.  “Stay away.”

Rodriguez posted about her encounter with the rattler on Facebook.  Many other residents of Herriman responded and described their own experiences.

This is the time of year when snakes begin to show up across Utah.

“They’ve been in their dens all winter and when it gets warmer, right around mid-May, folks seem to see a lot of rattlesnakes out and about,” said Mark Hadley of the Division of Wildlife Resources.

Areas near the foothills, like the Rodriguez’s neighborhood in Herriman are susceptible to seeing venomous snakes.

“Those are areas where you’d want to be especially careful,” Hadley said.

Hadley also warns people who go on hikes in dry, rocky areas -- like the Mt. Olympus trail in Salt Lake City -- to be aware of their surroundings.

“Do the best that you can to watch the area around you as you’re hiking,” Hadley said.  “Make sure that there isn’t a snake coiled up next to the rock.”

Laws in Utah protect rattlesnakes, making it illegal to kill one.

“They feed on rodents so they help control the rodent population,” Hadley said.  “They are an important part of the ecosystem here in the state.”

Hadley says his best advice if you see a snake on your property is to leave it alone, and call animal control to have it removed.

Much like Trisha’s dog learned, snakes will attack if they feel threatened.

“Rattlesnakes are scared of people and will typically do anything they can to avoid us,” Hadley said.