She added that younger rattlesnakes can be more dangerous than older ones but that the snakes do not look to strike.
“They are usually just defending themselves,” she said.
Strapazon said it’s more common in the foothills for dogs to be struck by rattlers than people.
“The best way to protect your dog is to keep [him or her] on a leash,” she said.
Rattlesnakes come in 16 distinct varieties but are all identified by the jointed rattles on the tail and their triangular shaped head. Their mouths are like a hinges and are usually around three- to four-feet long. Adults have blunt tails with jointed rattles; baby rattlesnakes do not have rattles and some adults may break or lose theirs. Rattlesnakes do not stray far from their den. Their main diet consists of small rodents.
The California Poison Control Center advises rattlesnake bite victims to go to the nearest emergency facility for treatment. It does not recommend traditional first aid like cutting into the wound, dunking the injured area in ice, using a tourniquet or attempting to suck out the venom with one’s mouth.
According to the center, when a snake is sighted, “stop or move away from it. Do not attempt to kill or frighten it. Snakes can strike rapidly at a distance approximately equal to their body length.”
The best advice from the center is to use common sense when hiking or walking in an area that is known for rattlesnakes. Wear the appropriate hiking clothing, including ankle-height boots and keep a watchful eye.
Strapazon agreed that staying aware is the best way to avoid a snake encounter.
“Keep your dogs and children close,” she said. “Talk to your children before you go [out for a walk].”
As the day heats up, rattlesnakes soak up the sun along rocks and trails. It is not uncommon for day hikers to come across them like they did here in La Cañada Flintridge.