The return of drought conditions across California has forced many animals to seek refuge closer to where humans live. While bears have been spotted recently in urban areas, an even more dangerous predator — rattlesnakes — are moving in closer to people's homes.
There’s been an uptick in calls from residents throughout the Central Coast reporting snakes slithering their way into peoples yards.
Dr. Emily Taylor with Central Coast Snake Services said it’s because the snakes are desperate for water.
“So they are moving into peoples yards at higher rates than they normally are to try to drink from bird baths, leaky faucets, pools," Taylor said. "Anything they can find.”
Central Coast Snake Services is an organization that clears snakes from properties and public areas and relocates them to uninhabited areas.
Taylor said people tend to get bitten by a rattlesnake when they try to kill one they come across.
“If you encounter a rattlesnake anywhere," Taylor said. "Whether on a trail or at your home, you should back away, give it space.”
Taylor said it's more common for dogs to get bitten, and advocates to never let your dog off leash on a hiking trail. She saidif your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake, don’t try to get the venom out or put any tourniquet around the wound.
“The only things you should do is immediately remove any constrictive jewelry, including a dog's collar and go straight to an emergency medical attention," Taylor said. "Don’t put any ice or heat on it.”
While there are pest control companies that can exterminate rattlesnakes found in your yard, Taylor encourages people to not kill them, since rattlesnakes play an important role in the ecosystem.
“Rattlesnakes are pretty good neighbors for a couple reasons," Taylor said. "They eat rodents that carry diseases. They also act as food for a lot of animals we like, owls and hawks and so on.”
For more information on how to deal with rattlesnakes if you see one, visit SLO County’s Animal Services website.