Recently, I was watching the local morning news program as I made coffee and tried to wake up.  A piece came on about the dangers of living in rattlesnake country.  At the conclusion of the segment, the reporter stated that the best way to avoid being bitten was ‘.. stay indoors and stay away from wildlife.’

I’m not kidding.  I wanted to scream!  That is like saying there’s no use in getting on a plane because it’s just going to crash.  I was furious.

I have spent countless hours in the field in southern Arizona over the years and have never been bitten by a rattlesnake (or any other snake for that matter).  I have seen dozens of these remarkable serpents.  A few of them have rattled and assumed a defensive posture.  The vast majority have either completely ignored me or have remained calm.  Either way, not one of them has struck at me.

Are rattlesnakes a potential hazard?  Sure.  But driving your car everyday is infinitely more dangerous than being bitten by a rattlesnake.  (Funny how all of these hazards exist in the U.S. (rattlesnakes, alligators, whooping cough, etc., etc.,) that everyone freaks out about but nobody hesitates for a second to get into a car, which is by far the most dangerous thing we do everyday).

If you live in Arizona, anywhere in Arizona, you are in rattlesnake country.  When you are outside, whether in your yard or in the wilderness, be alert.  Watch where you place your hands and feet.  If you hear a rattle, look around and locate the snake and move away from it.  Don’t panic and blindly run in a random direction, as you may step right on the snake.

It’s not a hard concept to understand.  Most of the rattlesnake bites in the U.S. are the result of what Harry Greene calls ‘testosterone tyranny’- young males (up to age of around 30), disregard or do not appreciate the dangers of interacting with these snakes.  Oh, and consumption of alcohol is often involved (big surprise there).

So get over this rattlesnake fear.  There are much more important things to worry about while you are driving to the store, texting your friends while behind the wheel.



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