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Rattlesnake sightings increasing in San Luis Obispo County, expert says

Posted at 1:51 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 23:51:55-04

Emily Taylor has been fascinated by rattlesnakes her whole life and now it is a full-time job.

She is a biology professor at Cal Poly and helps people who may have a surprise guest show up at their home with her business, Central Coast Snake Services.

"We want to protect people and their pets and livestock from snakes. And we want to protect the snakes from people," Taylor said.

Rattlesnakes are the only dangerous snake to call the Central Coast home and they have increasingly found their way onto properties.

Taylor and crew provide free snake identification online, over the phone or by text.

If it is a rattlesnake, Central Coast Snakes Services will catch and relocate it to an appropriate place, which usually is a half-mile away for it to recognize its surroundings without becoming disoriented and potentially dying from the environmental shift.

Unlike the Midwest, where rattlesnakes can move several miles, rattlesnakes along the Central Coast mostly stay put, waiting for prey to come to them.

"They move around a little bit more right now in the spring because males are looking for females. So that's a big part of what's going on. Interestingly this spring, we found a lot of baby rattlesnakes, just way more than in previous years."

Hotspots, she says, include Paso Robles and the Lake Nacimiento area as well as the Heritage Ranch area.

"We've had a lot of calls recently."

Avila Beach, Pismo Beach, and Arroyo Grande have all noted several rattlesnake sightings in neighborhoods, away from natural areas, Taylor said.

She went on to say that their research shows climate change will likely have a positive impact on rattlesnakes, allowing them to be active longer throughout the year, including the winter season.

"People should be cognizant that rattlesnakes will become more common as they have more and more babies and we're here to help manage that on their properties."

Bites from baby or adult rattlesnakes are both dangerous and medical emergencies, Taylor warned. She dispelled the myth that baby rattlesnake bites are more dangerous with the thought they cannot control their venom.

"That is absolutely not true," she said. "Bites from adults are far worse than babies. However, all bites have to be treated with anti-venom. The only thing to do is to go to the emergency room right away."

But before you become too afraid, Taylor noted rattlesnakes aren't aggressive toward larger animals like humans, pets, or livestock.

"They want to bite things they can eat. Anytime they bite [anything larger than a rodent], it's in defense."

Tips to keep them away from your home including keeping your grass cut low and not having large woodpiles or crawlspaces they can hide in.

"Basically, they like to hide, so if you reduce that, you reduce the chances of them staying as they pass through."

Taylor says the only way to ensure rattlesnakes avoid passing through is to install snake-proof fencing that her company provides.

"My goal is to preserve the rattlesnakes, to make sure they are not in conflict with people because that is the best way we can ensure that rattlesnakes can continue to do the rattlesnake thing and not hurt people."

To contact Central Coast Snake Services, you can call or text them at (805) 401-0811 or email