How to not get rattled in SCV
With summer heat upon the valley, experts share rattlesnake safety tips for families and their pets
With the summer weather arriving, Santa Clarita Valley residents are increasingly seeing snakes popping back up in backyards, open spaces and parks.
In the last 10 days alone, Fire Station 132 in Canyon Country received eight snake-related calls and anticipate more as temperatures continue to stay high, said Fire Capt. Mike Shepard.
“It’s really hot, and the snakes don’t have a way to regulate their temperature, so when it’s warm they try to get cool,” he said. “They’ll come down to rest in people’s grass, in the brush, in the pool because they get thirsty.”
Many houses are up against undeveloped areas, so snakes can easily slither down.
When face to face with a snake in their vicinities, residents can take certain safety precautions to protect themselves and their pets.
Snakes generally want to stay away from humans, but if residents encounter a snake near their home or in their backyard, they’re encouraged to call Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control or the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and stay as far away as possible.
Gopher snakes are harmless and good for properties because they keep rattlesnakes away, Shepard said.
In addition to the infamous rattle, poisonous rattlesnakes have triangular heads, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Residents should keep pet foods and household garbage inside to keep snakes away, as leaving them outdoors may attract rodents that snakes are interested in eating, said Don Belton, spokeswoman for L.A. County Animal Care and Control.
Removing potential hiding places for snakes or their prey is also a good idea, Belton said. These include piles of rocks, wood or other debris; tall grass and undergrowth; cracks around concrete porches and sidewalks; and storage sheds with space under the floor.
Residents can also install rattlesnake fencing in their yards, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Fences should be solid or with mesh no larger than one-quarter inch and 3 feet high with the bottom a few inches in the ground.
Rattlesnake avoidance training sessions for dogs are held periodically in Santa Clarita, such as one in April hosted by Ma & Paw Kennel in Castaic. Through this training, dogs can learn to recognize snakes through sight, sound and scent, said Gina Gables, a dog trainer and owner at the kennel.
In Acton, 2nd Home Dog Boarding provides a venue for classes through its partnership with Natural Solutions, a nationwide rattlesnake aversion training resource that uses real muzzled rattlesnakes. Their most recent session was earlier this month.
For more information about the training sessions, or to sign up for future training, visit Ma and Pa Kennels’ website or 2nd Home Dog Boarding’s Facebook page.
An artificial snake used to train dogs about rattlesnake avoidance sits on display during a recent class to help teach pet owners, as well as their pets, about safety.