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The City Journals

Common Sense Helps Prevent Snake Bites

Aug 06, 2015 09:21AM ● By Bryan Scott


By Rachel Hall

Spotting a snake in the backyard where children and pets play may be a cause for concern, but not for alarm. Snakes come out at different times during the year depending on the species, and summertime is the rattlesnake’s most active period in Utah.

“Snakes don’t pose a threat to us per se, because they’re not out to get us. No snake is dangerous if we leave it alone,” Dave Jensen, owner of Wasatch Snake Removal, said.

There are dozens of snake species in Utah, but it’s only the Great Basin rattlesnake that poses the potential risk of a venomous bite along the Wasatch Front. When it comes to how to react to seeing a snake in the yard, Jensen suggests it’s best to stay calm, keep an eye on the snake and call a professional.

“It is illegal to kill snakes in the state. It’s a non-game animal,” Jensen said.

Professionally relocating a snake not only keeps a homeowner on the right side of the law, but also helps to prevent any type of snake bite.

“Most people are bitten when they try to interact with a snake. That is they try to capture it, kill it or show off with it,” Jensen said.

Using common sense will help individuals enjoy the great outdoors Utah has to offer while minimizing the risk of a snake bite. Jensen suggests people never crawl under a fence in tall grass, or reach into a hole or bush if you can’t see what is inside.

Rock climbers should do their best not to place their hands on a ledge that can’t be seen while climbing. Hikers should inspect any rock or log before stepping over it.

Dogs have the potential to be bitten on the nose, face or front legs if they try to sniff an unfamiliar visitor in the yard. Training dogs to avoid snakes can save money on vet bills and keep a family pet healthy. There is also a canine rattlesnake vaccine available for healthy dogs. Dog owners should consult their pet’s veterinarian to discuss this option. 

“Snakes in Utah are a fact of life. We have 31 species of snakes in the state and your chances of encountering a snake when you’re outdoors are high. Be nice to snakes and they’ll be nice to you,” Jensen said.