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Feb 26, 2014 1:41 PM by John Overall

Warm weather is waking up rattlesnakes early this year

TUCSON - If you're getting outside to enjoy this warm weather watch your step. Rattlesnakes are out early this year.

Rattle snakes usually start coming out of hibernation at the end of March or early April. But they'll search for food whenever it gets above 72 degrees.

Even though there have been many sightings so far, there's only one snake bite reported in Southern Arizona.

Last year in Pima County there were 87 rattle snake bites and 218 statewide.

Keith Boesen, Director of the Arizona Drug and Poison Information Center, says the peak time for snakes is August and September. But he reminds us to be on the lookout for snakes year round. "The first bite, that we're aware of, happened over the weekend. Last year the first bite was on New Year's Day so not necessarily related to temperature. Just somebody, in the wrong place at the wrong time, encountered a rattle snake."

Boesen tells us when a rattle snake bites it's important to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

Tom Debolt has lived in Tucson for 15 years. He's always watching out for rattle snakes but in 2005 a sneaky snake bit him in the calf.

Tom spent 35 hours in the hospital and his bill was outrageous. "The hospital cost $65,823.75 and the majority of that price went to the expense of the anti venom which was basically 140 dollars short of 20 grand each. That I don't understand. Quite expensive."

Tom didn't have insurance but access covered most of his medical costs. As a professional gardner he recommends keeping your plants and bushes trimmed, and keep an eye out out for rodents, a primary food source for snakes.

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