Warmer weather brings out snakes earlier this year - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Warmer weather brings out snakes earlier this year

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Spring weather has arrived early this year and while that's good news for us, these guys seem a bit confused. 

Rattlesnakes are already beginning to make their presence felt.

We don't typically see these guys come out until the temperatures reach the 70s and 80s, but since we've hit those highs already, snake experts at the Phoenix Herpetological Society say these slithery critters have begun to get curious and venture out of their holes -- and that's leading to more and more snake calls.

"Everything in the reptile world is based on temperature and rattlesnakes are no different and neither are the gopher snakes or the other things that we have in the valley here that are cruising around and trying to see what's going on, so as the temperature rises, the snakes are going to come out," said PHS' Nate Deason.

Their best advice is if you hear a rattlesnake or happen to stumble upon one, call a professional.  They say most people end up getting bit when they try to remove the snakes themselves.

But that doesn't scare a group of local snake hunters.  These guys spend a lot of time looking for snake nests and say this warmer weather -- this early-- is bringing out even more snakes.

These guys have been searching for rattlesnakes in the Arizona desert for 15 years, but they recently ran into an aggressive rattlesnake in January -- a time they've never seen them out before.

WARNING: Don't try this at home.

David Fairchild and John Campbell with Arizona Bushman found the feisty rattlesnake near Bumblebee in January.

"He was a bitty bitty rattlesnake," said Campbell. 

Fairchild added, "He was definitely the most angriest Western Diamondback we ever found."

The two have been hunting for rattlesnakes since they were teenagers.

"We catch them, take their photos, let them go," said Campbell.

But they say they've never seen rattlers out this early in the year.

"They don't really hibernate, so you get a few days of warmth, they're going to come out," said Campbell.

On Tuesday, we met them just miles from where they spotted the giant rattler in January.

"It's one of the areas that we found a lot of speckled rattlers," said Campbell.  "I don't really like sticking my face over ledges where I can't see."

While we let Dave and John search up there for snakes, we stayed on the path.

"Like the worst thing you could do is like, boom boom, it's the worst thing you can do," said Fairchild.  "That's why rules of hiking is don't step over, go around and all else don't even go off the trail."

"Whenever it's a little bit warmer, more people are out when it's a little bit warmer, more snakes are out when both are out.. that's when people get bitten," said Dr. Aaron Skolnik, Assistant Medical Director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.

Skolnik says they've already seen rattlesnake bites this year.  He says if you are bitten, call 911.

"The vast majority of hospitals carry at least a loading dose of anti-venom," he said.

"Used to handle them with my bare hands, but I had to promise my family I wouldn't do it anymore," said Campbell.

John and David now carry their homemade snake hooks everywhere they go.

"You can use the hook to move rocks out of the way and expose any rattlers," said Fairchild.  "I don't recommend people looking for snakes, you know I've been doing it since I was 14."

Well, I was okay with us not seeing any rattlesnakes this day.

In case you're wondering, John says he was bitten once in the hand.  David says he has never been bitten.

Dr. Skolnik says make sure if you're hiking to have a cell phone with you to call for help.


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