Rattlesnakes are very common in the Los Vaqueros Watershed. A rattlesnake is distinguished by a triangular-shaped head that is noticeably larger than its neck, a dull body and a blunt tail with 1 or more rattles. It is very likely that you would hear a rattler before you see it. When a rattlesnake feels threatened, it will shake the rattles on its tail as a warning before it strikes. It is important to listen for this fast rattling sound (almost a hissing sound) when you are hiking or engaging in other activities in the watershed.
Tips to avoid encounters with rattlesnakes:
- Watch the ground ahead of you.
- Keep a close eye on your children.
- Look carefully around logs and rocks before sitting down.
- Avoid placing hands and feet where you can’t see clearly.
- Avoid climbing or scrambling over rocks and boulders.
- Scan the area around picnic tables before using them.
- If you see a snake, give it plenty of room and leave it alone.
If you hear or see a rattlesnake:
- Stop what you are doing and remain still.
- Visually locate the snake and slowly back away from it.
- Maintain a safe distance from the snake.
- Do not attempt to hassle, relocate or handle the snake
If you are bitten by a rattlesnake:
- Stay calm. Rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal.
- Call 911 and get immediate medical assistance. There are emergency call boxes on some trails, see our Trails Map (PDF) for locations.