By Fiona de Young

As of this writing this, the Rincon Valley Fire District responded to 32 snake calls in one week.

That’s not unusual for this time of year, when our reptilian neighbors venture out to greet the warmer temperatures. Arizona is home to a huge variety of snakes, some venomous and some not. Of the 17 rattlesnake species in our state, known for their eponymous rattle and cat-like eyes, all are venomous. Knowing how to spot, react, and respond to snakes is an important part of staying safe:

Prevent Snake Bites

  • Leave wild animals alone. 50 to 70% of reptile bites managed by the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center were provoked by the person who was bitten–that is, someone was trying to kill, capture, or harass the animal.
  • Keep your eyes open: watch where you put your hands and feet, snakes may be small. Try to keep your hands and feet out of crevices in rocks, wood piles and deep grass.
  • Always carry a flashlight and wear shoes or boots when walking after dark.
  • Dead snakes can bite and inject venom.
  • Install outdoor lighting for yards, porches and sidewalks.

Bite Safety 

  • Call 911 and remain as calm as possible.
  • Don’t wait to see if you get symptoms.
  • Don’t ice the bite.
  • Don’t use constricting bands or suction. Using “extractors” does not remove a significant amount of venom and the process can increase tissue damage. 
  • Don’t administer alcohol or medication.
  • Don’t try to catch the snake, it may bite again.
  • Do keep bite below heart level if possible.
  • Do immobilize the affected area and limit activity.
  • Do remove tight clothing, shoes or jewelry from the bitten limb.
  • Do wash with soap and water.
  • Do go to the nearest medical facility immediately.

Source: Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center

When RVFD responds, we relocate and release the animal per the Tucson Herpetological Society guidelines. Check-out these and other resources available on our Web site at, or call us at 520-647-3760 to discuss any safety concerns. 

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