Summer is here, and the chance of encountering a snake rises. The summer heat fosters conditions that snakes love. Dry, arid conditions allow snakes to thrive and/or drive them into the comfort of your yard or home. Most snakes that have been found in our populated neighborhoods have been carried in under cars and trucks that may have been in or around their habitat. Arizona is home to over 50 species of native snakes; however, the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is most commonly encountered in the Phoenix area.
The best way to keep your pet safe from snakes is to be aware of your surroundings. If you are hiking in northern Arizona, learn what kind of snakes are common in the area and what times of year they are most active. Also remember that snakes can find their way up trees, so watch out for threats at eye level as well. Most snakes are nocturnal, so be particularly careful about securing things if you are going to be camping out overnight, and make your pet stay in the tent with you.
Keep them on a short leash. If you are concerned about your pup getting bit while on a walk, the best solution is to keep the dog on a short leash, not an extender leash, to keep them from potentially dangerous snake spots.
If hiking, stay on the trail. Do not wander off trail. If you’re just walking through your neighborhood, stay on the sidewalk. Snakes tend to mind their own business as long as you do, too. Avoid big rocks or dense grass areas.
Snake proof your yard. Keep your grass short and if you have firewood, stack it away from your house, as it harbors mice which is bait for the snakes.
If you hear a rattle, leave. The interesting thing about rattlesnakes specifically is that they really don’t want anything to do with you. They have a noisemaker attached to the tail, so you know where they are and to leave them alone.
A snakebite is always an emergency. If you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a snake, take him to the vet or an emergency clinic immediately. Whatever you do, do not cut into the bite. Try to suck out the venom or apply a tourniquet to the area. You should also avoid applying heat or ice to the wound and do your best to keep your pet restrained and calm – this will help to slow the spread of the venom.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is particularly accurate when it comes to snakes. Even if the snake is not venomous, it can still cause your pet a great deal of pain, and the bite could get infected.
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