RATTLESNAKE SOLUTIONS for intelligent Co-existence

By Philip Bonafede

Philip Bonafede’s pet Mojave Rattlesnake
“Hollywood” Photo by Alexandra Hicks

Philip Bonafede has been growing desert gardens for over 45 years and has been doubling as one of the greater Joshua Tree area’s snake wranglers and snake-aversion dog trainers since 1998. You can contact him at 760-401-4488 or email at pbdesert@earthlink.net

We are about 2-6 weeks away from rattlesnake season, depending on the weather. Warmer temperatures bring them out of hibernation (all the pedagogues will say, “brumation”, but layman’s terms are what folks relate to).

Rattlesnakes are active April through November. They awaken, fully active, in early spring with two things on their minds: food and sex. Yes, they are very hungry. (I have frozen rats for my snakes.) They are not lethargic when they ‘wake’ (become active again) since they never actually go to sleep, but into a deep meditation, and slow their pulmonary and respiratory systems to survival mode.

People can expect to see a lot of rattlesnakes during early spring due to mating season and their quest for food. They are mostly visible mornings and early evenings since they are diurnal. This occurs until temperatures are 80+ degrees in the evenings and over 100 by day when rattlesnakes become nocturnal due to high summer heat. During the summer, most encounters are early evening and early mornings before they hide from the heat underground or under a water faucet on a north facing wall at your house. In order to safely co-exist with rattlesnakes, it is very important to understand their behavior. Rattlesnakes are trying to survive, just like humans. If you take the time to educate yourself, then future issues can be avoided.

The majority of the time a rattlesnake is there because it was invited. Boxes, trash, wood piles, debris piles, tall shrubs, untrimmed weeds, gaps under the door to your water heater, and pack rat nests all invite rattlesnakes inside your property as if you put up a Motel 6 sign! The conditions listed above create the ideal habitat for rodents, which rattlesnakes track, ambush, and dine on.

You can determine whether you have rodents by looking for droppings at the base of external wall perimeters and shed entries. Can you smell animal urine in storage sheds?

Poisons kill rodents, which then kill the owls, coyotes, red tailed hawks, neighbor ’s cat, coopers hawks, roadrunners, gopher snakes, bobcats, rattlesnakes and other wildlife that consumes the poisoned rodent. If the dying rodent gets into your attic, then you will have a very unpleasant odor to contend with! (Avoid glue traps also!) DON’T USE POISONS!

1. Clean up your property.
2. Haul away all the clutter that is attracting rodents. 3. Trap the remaining rodents in no-kill traps, like Havahart, that will capture but will not harm. Traps should be monitored so that ‘friendly’ critters can be released before the sun kills them! Please take an active role in protecting our wildlife. It is illegal to relocate rodents (and other mammals) in California.

If your dog has not gone through a K9 Rattlesnake Aversion Class, then the most intelligent thing you can do is keep your dog on a leash during hikes to avoid coyotes, bobcats, other dogs, and rattlesnakes. Most dogs have never seen a rattlesnake, so use a leash and contact me regarding Rattlesnake Aversion Classes.

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The link below claims that it does not work on the Mojave Rattlesnake venom. Bite severity depends on a number of variables. Do your own research and make sure the information comes from a reputable source. Quote: “UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital does not recommend the vaccine.” https://www. eastcountymagazine.org/do-rattlesnake-vaccines- dogs-really-work

No matter where you live in southwest you will encounter rattlesnakes.

1. Call a responsible rattlesnake wrangler and keep your eyes on the snake, from 12 feet away, until the snake is safely removed and relocated. Rattlesnakes are very intelligent and know you have seen them! They will wait until you leave for a few seconds to quietly relocate themselves out of sight.

2. If you have a sense of adventure, sign up for one of my professional rattlesnake wrangler classes. Then you can relocate all your neighbors’ snakes and provide a valuable service to our community! I have been handling rattlesnakes since 1966 and spent the past 33+ years expanding my knowledge base.

3. Have a professional install rattlesnake fencing. There are specific criteria which must be met in order for this type of fencing to be effective. Contact Bryan Hughes of Rattlesnake Solutions in Cave Creek, AZ, for details.

4. Never try to handle or kill a rattlesnake! This is where bites occur. Even though a rattlesnake bite is seldom fatal to humans, it is still a medical emergency and can have long term medical consequences. There are only 5 reported deaths annually in the USA from rattlesnake bites compared to tens of thousands of vehicle related traffic deaths annually, yet no one ever takes a shotgun to a car!

5. Garden hose with a spray nozzle.

6. Best solution? Just leave the rattlesnake alone and always look where you place your hands and feet!

Kind regards,
Phil Bonafede
Phil’s K9 Rattlesnake Aversion Classes https://www.facebook.com/ groups/147504670529874

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