Experts warn warmer temperatures bring out rattlesnakes

LAS VEGAS - It's Spring, but the temps in the Las Vegas valley are getting warmer and warmer, so that means there will be more and more snakes coming from underground to roam the area.

Snakes, in particular, rattlesnakes, like to soak up the sun, and while they can help cut down the rodent population, they pose a risk to humans and dogs.

According to exports, rattlesnakes strike when they feel threatened.

"Any desert country will have rattlesnakes; it's part of the environment," said Doug Nielsen, a public affairs supervisor for the Department of Wildlife.

Nielsen says all species of rattlesnakes are venomous. 

"The five species of rattlesnakes we have here in southern Nevada are the Panamint which is kind of a pink color, the Mojave rattlesnake, some people call it the Mojave green, the Speckled rattlesnake and the Western Diamond Back," said Nielsen. 

In the Las Vegas valley, people can start seeing rattlesnakes as early as late March.  They will be noticed by the public up until October, and they can be seen during all hours of the day.

However, the type of snake you see depends on where you are located. 

"In the mountains and things you're around town it's probably real possible tha t you'll see the Speckle," said Nielsen.  "If your down on the washes or on valley floor you probably see Sidewinder or the Mojave green." 

People hiking should definitely be careful and watch for rattlesnakes, but it's the pets that are a higher risk. 

Veterinarian Debbie White with the Lone Mountain Animal Hospital says every year she sees a handful of cases.  Her most recent case was just two days ago.

 "A lot of dogs, especially if they are hiking or out at the desert, they are going to be exploring areas where snakes may already be especially if they are putting their noses into holes under rocks and looking around," said White.

Veterinarians say a tell-tale sign this has happened to your dog is if that pet cries, limps or has swelling.

"We can see pets that will start to have vomiting, diarhea; they become weak, some can have seizures and develop bloody urine," said White.

Regardless, if it's a pet or human, you want to have that bite checked right away.

"About 20-25 percent of the time the snake doesn't release the venom that's what we call a dry bite," White said.

Experts recommend a rattlesnake aversion training for dogs.  It's a program designed to fear the sight, smell and sound of a snake and a rattlesnake vaccination for pets at high-risk exposure. 

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