Arizona is home to tremendous natural beauty. From the stunning desert landscapes of Phoenix and Tuscon, to the incredible views of the Grand Canyon, Arizona is a hot spot for tourists and folks looking to permanently relocate alike!
But it’s also home to 15 different species of rattlesnakes.
One of the main things I hear from tourists and folks looking to relocate to the state, are questions about rattlesnakes. Will they see one? Will they get bitten by one?
Now I won’t sit here and write this article as if I’m some kind of rattlesnake lover, because I’m definitely not. But what I am is someone who has conquered their fears of rattlesnakes by educating myself about them. There are in fact a lot of misconceptions about these creatures and it’s about time we clear them up!
So in short, if you’re looking for a quick and easy answer to the question of “how likely am I to get bitten by a rattlesnake in Arizona?”, the answer is – it’s not likely if you use common sense, but it is possible.
So what can you do to reduce the risk of getting bitten by a rattlesnake?
It’s important to know that rattlesnakes are defensive in nature, and don’t actively seek out humans to eat or attack. In fact, rattlesnakes are more scared of you than you are of them. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to charge after them and try and scare them off. They will hold their ground and they will strike if they feel threatened enough.
So what should you do if you’re hiking in Arizona, or working in your own backyard and you come across a rattlesnake?
Thankfully for us and other large mammals, nature gave rattlesnakes a rattle, so in theory if you have walked up on a rattlesnake and agitated it, it should rattle at you. Whether it coils up and starts rattling or not, the best thing you can do in a situation like this is to simply back up far away from the snake and leave it be.
If it’s in your backyard simply back away to a safe distance and call a snake removal company to come pick up the snake. If you’re out hiking on a trail and come across a rattlesnake, try to find an alternate route around the snake or simply head back towards your car and call it a day. No hike or photo for Instagram is worth a trip to the ER for a rattlesnake bite.
Under no circumstances, (unless you are a trained snake handler) should you ever approach the animal or try to touch it, pick it up, or intimidate it. The snake more often than not WILL hold it’s ground if you continue to threaten it. Actions such as kicking dirt at it, throwing rocks, getting up in its face with a camera can all be seen as threats by the snake, and it could be liable to strike at any moment if it is being provoked in such a manner. The rattlesnake will defend itself, but it will not actively attack you.
That leads us into the most common misconception people have about rattlesnakes – that they will chase you down and bite you. This has never happened, and likely never will.
These creatures are simply defensive animals and don’t like be stepped on or threatened. There’s a reason one of the first flags of our nation is a coiled up rattler with text saying “Don’t Tread On Me”.
Still believing your crazy old uncles story about the time a rattler chased him down a mountain?
Then check out this clip from Rattlesnake Solutions LLC, in which they put these rumors and misconceptions to the test and approach 50 wild rattlesnakes to see if they attack. Spoiler alert – they don’t.
Despite there being plenty of information and facts about Rattlesnakes and staying safe around them, people still get bit.
I’ll come right out and say it, the majority of people who get bit by rattlesnakes are simply idiots.
Now of course it is entirely possible to be out hiking in the desert or around the rim of the Grand Canyon and accidentally step on one of these snakes and get bit, but most of the time bites occur when people who are not trained try to handle or even kill these snakes. There’s also the crowd of people who think that rattlesnakes are props for their instagram photos and get juuust a little bit too close when they’re taking a selfie with one.
If you’re out hiking, or in any other rural part of Arizona its always a good idea to simply watch where you put your feet. While yes accidents can happen because of the rattlesnakes brilliant camouflage, watching where you walk and staying on trail is really the best way to avoid rattlesnakes.
So how likely are you to get bitten by a rattlesnake in Arizona?
While it is absolutely possible, as long as you are using common sense it’s pretty unlikely.
If you do find yourself bitten by a rattler, as crazy as it sounds the most important thing to do is remain calm. If you start to panic and freak out, it’s going to cause your blood to pump faster and the venom to circulate more quickly.
It’s important to remember that your chances of dying from a rattlesnake bite are very very low, so long as you receive medical attention as quickly as possible. Anti-venom in the United States, and especially Arizona is aplenty so long as you get to a hospital as quickly as you can you will survive. It will hurt like hell, but you will live to enjoy another beautiful day in the desert, hopefully one without rattlesnakes!Thumbnail photo credit – karlibri Other photo credits – emmemma