Here, the first snakes of the season are called Striped Racers. They startle the winterized and drowsy cabin dweller as they dart through tall grass. When snake sightings occur on two consecutive days, the snake season has officially begun. California Mountain Kingsnakes also come out, slowly crawling up canyon walls or deck chairs to warm up (see above.) These two non-venomous friends remind us that the Western Rattlesnake is next to wake up.
The best policy for safe cohabitation with the rattlesnake is at the junction of deterrence and respect. Corners are swept; stagnant piles of debris are moved, shaken out, pushed back so hands and feet have a defensible perimeter. Quiet corners of the toolshed and woodpile are not absentmindedly engaged. Fleshy human parts are not blindly stuffed in.
On dark warm nights when the rattlesnakes hunt mice, it’s wise to break out the flashlight on trips to the outhouse.
But it’s reassuring to know that the rattlesnake doesn’t want to bite, and only does when given a reason. Statistically speaking, bite victims are incredibly specific: 90% are male and their average age is 20-25. The vast majority of bites are to the hands of people (sorry: young men) attempting to catch or handle the snakes. Nearly half of victims are drunk at the time of the bite. Conclusion: if you’re not simultaneously young, drunk and in possession of a penis, you’ll probably be fine.