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Rattlesnakes in Arizona

by Rattlesnake Joe
(Unknown canyon in AZ)

Q. Howdy, My wife and I are snowbirds roaming around central Arizona in our 17' Casita travel trailer. The high axle wheels on the trailer and the 9" ground clearance of the SUV allow us to go off-road to most places down here and we love the freedom of camping in out-of-the-way places.

Only problem is the Mohave Green Rattlesnakes. Once bitten, you only have about 20 minutes to live. By the time the helicopter or ambulance gets to you, you are dead. What do you suggest we do?

Marianne's Reply: Have you actually seen many rattlesnakes? We've only encountered two in all our years of desert camping. Neither encounter was while we were hiking or at risk. We saw one on the road while driving, another docilely wandered into our campsite. Of course, they do exist, so here are a few precautions you can take:

Since rattlesnakes are mainly nocturnal, don't go out at night. They hibernate in winter, so avoid the warmer months. Check into buying snake gaiters (available at most outfitters for around $60.00).

Use common sense: make noise and vibrations as you hike so you won't surprise them - hiking poles are good for this, never put your hands or feet where you can't see, and always listen for the warning rattle.

Some statistics: Of approximately 7000 to 8000 bites annually by venomous snakes in the USA, only 15 are lethal. Apparently, 85% of all bites are below the knee so, with gaiters on, you could beat these odds.

Finally, of course, every type of adventure has some risk, so keep your last will and testament up to date :-)

Comments for Rattlesnakes in Arizona

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Jul 01, 2012
Rare, Rare and Most Of All, Rare
by: Bud Corwin

I've lived in Arizona since 1978 and have only seen maybe 2 or 3 rattle snakes. I've been in just about every part of the state and hiked many places here. As stated in other comments, winter time is best for hiking the southern deserts and also, make noise as you hike. If there is a rattler in the area and you make noise as you walk, they won't be surprised and will retreat from your path. Enjoy your time here and hope to see you on one of our many trails.

Jul 29, 2010
20 minutes???
by: Snake Buddies

First of all, check your facts. Where did you hear that you only had 20 minutes to live? That information is pessimistic, if not outright ridiculous. Mojaves bite several people a year, and very few of them die. If you seek medical help immediately, your odds of surviving are extremely high. Obviously your odds start to diminish the longer it takes you to get to a hospital, so plan ahead and be safe. For more information on Arizona rattlesnakes, feel free to visit this blog.

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All tips and advice on this web site are purely the personal opinion of the author who assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences resulting from following said advice.