NewsLocal News


Cal Poly student bitten by rattlesnake

Posted at 6:06 AM, May 10, 2022

On Sunday, a Cal Poly student sustained injuries from a snake bite on their shin while walking between Cerro Vista and Poly Canyon Village apartments at 2:45 p.m.

Cal Poly Assistant Vice President of Media Relations, Matt Lazier, said in a statement, "When they passed an area of grass, a black and gray snake jumped out and bit the student on the shin. Paramedics were called, and the student was taken to the hospital for treatment."

The student believed it was a rattlesnake because of the rattling sound they heard as it slithered away, but the snake wasn't located after the incident so it has not been confirmed.

"Rattlesnakes never attack unprovoked. They only want to bite to defend themselves," said Emily Taylor, a California Polytechnic State University Professor of Biological Sciences.

Rattlesnakes can blend into the ground making an unintentional encounter possible.

"This person steps on a rattlesnake. The rattlesnake thinks that they're under threat, and they bite to defend themselves," said Taylor.

But it's not just humans having unfortunate run-ins with rattlesnakes.

Gin Butterfield's border collie, Bodie, became ill and had signs of swelling in his nose after being nose to nose with a rattlesnake. Butterfield's other dog Daisy alerted her.

"She was barking at what looked like grasses and after a while, my eyes acclimated and I saw the snake," said homeowner Gin Butterfield.

They took Bodie to the Atascadero Pet Hospital where he is expected to recover after receiving anti-venom.

Butterfield called Taylor to safely remove the rattlesnake from her yard.

"Daisy's a hero because she barked so much to get my attention," said Butterfield.

Taylor says if a snake has a pointed tail it is likely just a harmless gopher snake, but if it has a tail that rattles, or if it's a baby and has a nub at the end of its tail, it is likely a rattlesnake.

Taylor runs a local snake hotline and picks up snakes from people's yards for free. She encourages you to call her at 805-401-0811 before killing a snake.

Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton and Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo each reported having two patients recently with rattlesnake bites. Both hospitals have anti-venom in stock.

Hospital officials say people should take extra care on trails and when walking through grass and wear protective gear such as hiking boots and long pants as opposed to low shoes and bare legs.