GOLDEN, Colo. (KDVR) — Park rangers in Jefferson County are gathering reports of rattlesnake sightings, the first of the season, as temperatures across the state warm up.
Bonnell said Sunday a rattlesnake was spotted on a trail at North Table Mountain Park. She said multiple hikers on the trail saw the snake earlier in the morning. She said while the evenings are still colder in April and May, snakes depend on the early morning sunshine to warm up and often a trail heats up faster than patches of grass.
“A rattlesnake has bright white stripes, one goes above the eye and the other goes below the eye to the chin area. Those are visible from far away,” Bonnell said.
With snakes now back out, Bonnell said it can leave dogs vulnerable to bites. She said a great preventative measure is to keep dogs on a leash and on the trail.
“Trust me as a ranger, I have seen straight up tragedies for dogs off leash, straight up tragedies,” Bonnell said.
Annually, Bonnell said in Jefferson County Open Spaces there are an average of four to six dog versus rattlesnake bites reported. She said bites aren’t always lethal, but they are difficult and expensive in the long run.
“Usually, we see people running around $200,000 in costs for the hospital for a rattlesnake bite and pets are around $2,500 to treat a rattlesnake bite,” Bonnell said.
If your dog were to be bitten, Bonnell said the best thing to do is keep calm and keep your dog immobile. She said if you can, carry your dog back down to the trailhead. If you aren’t able to do that, call the non-emergency number or 911 for help.
Bonnell said your dog will need immediate veterinarian care. She said call your vet while you are on your way there, so the anti-venom can be warmed up. She also stated not all vet offices carry anti-venom.
“Most dogs get bitten on their neck or face because they like to explore,” Bonnell said.
Even though rattlesnake bites for humans are less likely than bites on dogs, Bonnell said it’s important for people to know what to do if they are bitten.
She said the best thing for people to do is remain calm and to call 911 and if possible, make your way to the trailhead.
“The more hyper you are, you are moving that venom through your body,” Bonnell said.
She said people also follow the myths they may have heard. She said do NOT suck out the venom, don’t wrap or cut the wound and don’t put ice on the wound. The best thing to do is stay calm and prepare for swelling, so take off rings and other tight jewelry.
“Bites are generally not lethal,” Bonnell said.
As Colorado transitions into hotter months, rattlesnakes can be hiding under rocks and in the shade to try and stay cool. Bonnell said it’s good for both humans and dogs to not explore areas where they can’t clearly see the ground.