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April and May are peak mating season for rattlesnakes on the Central Coast

Posted at 6:48 PM, Apr 10, 2023

April and May are peak mating season for rattlesnakes on the Central Coast.

“Here on the Central Coast, we have eight different species of snakes, but only one venomous species and that's our Northern Pacific Rattlesnake," said California State Parks Senior Environmental Scientist Katie Drexhage.

Central Coast Snake Services owner and Cal Poly biology professor Emily Taylor told KSBY because of the cold spring, the rattlesnake population boom has been late to start.

“Rattlesnake distribution in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties is very heterogeneous. There'll be rattlesnakes here and not here. So some of the many hot spots there include Los Osos, like along the beach and up in the hills, the foothills near San Luis Obispo High School, the area all around like Lake Nacimiento, and then kind of the eastern Highway 41 corridor in Templeton and Atascadero," said Taylor.

Taylor founded Central Coast Snake Services back in 2019 to help people safely relocate rattlesnakes. She said the calls for service are starting to pick up.

“We got a couple of baby rattlesnakes in Los Osos yesterday. We've had rattlesnakes popping up in Santa Barbara. It's a little warmer there, so it precedes us by a couple of weeks," said Taylor.

“In Montana de Oro, they seem to like it when it's overcast, about 55 degrees, because the ground is warm. So we're starting to see some now," added Drexhage.

So what should you do if you come face to face with one?

“If you encounter a snake near your property, you're not sure what it is, you can take a photo and text it to the Central Coast Snake hotline and we'll identify it for you. If it is a rattlesnake, we can come and humanely relocate that for free. Otherwise, we can tell you all about the snake and what you should do with it," said Taylor.

If you are out hiking or near open spaces keep your eyes peeled, be aware of your surroundings, and listen for the rattle.

“Rattlesnakes are always just going to be trying to mind their own business. The problems arise if you accidentally step too close to one like you're hiking, and you don't see it. So rattlesnake buzzes and warns you or if you happen to see one crossing a trail, you want to stay about ten feet away and just make a big loop around it," explained Taylor.

“It’s really important for visitors to stay on trails and respect all wildlife, including snakes. Give them their space," said Drexhage.

When in doubt don’t touch the snake, take a photo and give Central Coast Snake Services a call at  (805) 401-0811.