Jul 17, 2012 10:10 AM

Beware of the bite, rattlesnake season slithers in

TUCSON- If you're planning any outdoor fun over the next couple of months, beware of the bite. We're now entering the peak time for rattlesnake activity and you may not always hear that warning rattle before a bite.

Keith Boesen of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center says there is always an increase in the number of bites in July and August because it's the time baby snakes are being born. "This is the time of year when baby snakes are becoming more active and they don't have the traditional rattle," Boesen says.

Despite its small size, a baby's bite could be even more dangerous than an adult rattlesnake. "Baby snakes have a different aspect to their venom and it's potentially more dangerous to humans early in their life," Boesen says.

He says to avoid the bite, the best thing you can do is be aware of your surroundings. "Don't put your hands where your eyes can't see, always look around and don't go prancing through the desert."

Boesen says Arizona averages 150 to 200 rattlesnake bites every year. Most happen during the breeding season, between July and September. "Often times bites can happen during normal activities," Boesen says. "Gardening in your backyard, taking the garbage out, even playing golf."

Just remember, if it happens to you, head straight to the hospital. "There's really no first aid you can do in the field," Boesen says. "The only treatment you can receive is at a hospital and that's where everyone needs to be."

If you're outside and you feel a weird pinch, sting, or bite, you should call the Poison Center just to be safe.

The number is 1-800-222-1222.


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