With this year’s dry weather and early spring, rattlesnakes have been spotted by Park Disrict staff and visitors along the park’s trails that make up their natural habitat. When the weather gets warm, snakes come out to explore their environment, which can lead to encounters with humans and dogs.
Although most snakes found in California are harmless, the Northern Pacific rattlesnake can deliver a venomous bite if provoked. Its coloration allows it to blend in with the soil, providing excellent camouflage. Rattlesnakes and gopher snakes have similar coloration, therefore rattlesnakes are often mistaken for its harmless cousin. Therefore, use caution and avoid any snake you see in the wild.
Brochure: Common Snakes of the East Bay Regional Parks [PDF]
What to Do If You See a Rattlesnake
Leave it alone - do not try to capture or harm it. All park wildlife is protected by law. If you see a snake on a trail, wait for it to cross and do not approach. Then move carefully and slowly away.
What to do if bitten by a snake
1. If bitten by a rattlesnake, stay calm and have someone call 911. The victim should remain calm by lying down with the affected limb lower than the heart. Wash the wound, if possible. (Rattlesnake bites are typically associated with intense, burning pain.) If you are by yourself, walk calmly to the nearest source of help. Do not run.
2. If bitten by another kind of snake, wash the wound with soap and water or an antiseptic and seek medical attention.
3. If you are not sure what kind of snake bit you, check the bite for two puncture marks (in rare cases one puncture mark) associated with intense, burning pain. This is typical of a rattlesnake bite. Other snakebites may leave multiple teeth marks without associated burning pain.
Snake Safety Tips in Regional Parks
1. Always hike with a friend so that you can help each other in case of emergency.
2. Look at the ground ahead of you as you are walking.
3. Look carefully around and under logs and rocks before sitting down.
4. Avoid placing your hands or feet where you can’t see clearly.
5. Check the area around picnic tables, campsites, and barbecues before using them. If you encounter a rattlesnake in these areas, notify park staff.
6. Keep pets on designated trails and away from snakes if they see one.