The height of rattlesnake season typically begins in April or May, but animal experts say the severe drought and heat waves on the Central Coast are making the snakes come out earlier.
“The drought is very severe. The snakes that we found are very thin and dehydrated, and I think they are looking for water in people’s yards," said Emily Taylor, owner of Central Coast Snake Services.
Taylor has been studying snakes for a long time and now operates her own snake services. One service she offers is free relocation for snakes found in people's backyards.
“Around your home, the way to prevent rattlesnakes moving into your yard is to keep rodents under control, including ground squirrel burrows, and to limit any sources of water like birdbaths or dripping irrigation," said Taylor.
If you do see a snake in your yard, Taylor recommends taking a picture from far away and texting it to their snake hotline: 805-401-0811. From there, she will be able to tell you what type of snake it is and what to do.
Those who live closer to open areas are most likely to see snakes in their yard. This was the case for San Luis Obispo resident Mike Sanders.
“I happen to be out here looking for black widow nests, and I ran across a rattle sticking out of the bushes and noticed it was a rattlesnake," Sanders said.
When Taylor arrived, she found a second snake in the bushes. Still, she says, snakes intend no harm and are just looking for water.
“We should not be afraid of rattlesnakes, but we should give them our respect. Rattlesnakes do not want to bite people," said Taylor.
“Obviously this is an environment for snakes, and they belong here just as much as we do," said Sanders.
This season could bring more rattlesnakes to homes than last year, Taylor says.
“I have to admit, I am a little worried about this season. Last year we had a bad drought, and there [were] a lot of rattlesnakes in people’s yards, and it’s much worse this year," she said.
Hot spots to see rattlesnakes include western Paso Robles, San Miguel, Pismo Preserve, the Irish Hills in San Luis Obispo and parts of northern Santa Barbara County including Lompoc and Santa Ynez.
Central Coast Snake Services are looking for volunteers to help with the high demand expected this season. For more information, you can visit their website.