MEEKER | In the last week two verified reports have surfaced of rattlesnakes coming down into town in Meeker, one in Sage Hills subdivision and one behind the visitor bleachers at Starbuck Stadium. Additional anecdotal reports have come in as well, but without photographic evidence.
Of the 30 or so species of snakes in Colorado, only three are venomous, and they’re all rattlesnakes. The Prairie rattler is the most common, and can be found below 9,000 ft. statewide. The midget faded rattlesnake is smaller, and can be found on the extreme western edge of Colorado. The massasauga is only found in southeastern Colorado.
What should you know?
– Be aware of your surroundings.
– Educate children about snakes and supervise them outdoors in snake-prone areas.
– Keep dogs leashed.
– Remove earbuds when hiking or on trails in areas where snakes have been seen so you can listen for a warning rattle.
– Don’t attempt to catch a snake or handle a dead snake. One-third of people who are bitten are trying to handle or kill the snake. The head of a rattlesnake can reflexively bite after death, even if it’s no longer attached to the body.
While it’s not illegal to kill snakes in Colorado if they present a threat, avoidance is preferred.
“When people identify a rattlesnake as being present, if they give them some space, all will be good for both,” said CPW Area 6 Wildlife Manager Bill de Vergie via email.
If you encounter a rattlesnake:
1. If you hear a snake, stop moving until you can determine where the snake is located.
2. Back away slowly. Try to put at least 5 feet between yourself and the snake
3. Leave the snake alone. One-third of people who suffer a snakebite are bitten as a result of trying to handle or kill the snake.
What to do in case of snakebite?
While bites to humans are the exception, the best snakebite kit is a call to 911 and a ride to the hospital. Both area hospitals carry antivenin. If you are frequently out in snake territory, away from cell service and far from emergency medical treatment, familiarize yourself with emergency treatment procedures for humans and animalsoutlined in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife rattlesnake fact sheet found here: http://bit.ly/2L6PV0F.
The fact sheet outlines rattlesnake behavior and identification, how to avoid being bitten, and what to do in case of a bite to a human or animal.