Feel like you have seen more snakes on the move lately? Well you’re not alone. Lyons area residents have been reporting an increase in snake sightings which has likely been exacerbated by the heat wave we have been experiencing for the last several weeks.
Snakes do enjoy basking in the sun in order to gain their energy for the day, and typically they can do this throughout the day, but intense heat (above 85 degrees Fahrenheit) typically forces them into shelter. This makes it so that all of the snakes in a community can only sunbathe
during the morning and evening hours; the same time frame that people are usually commuting or recreating outdoors.
Snakes typically enjoy sheltering in quiet, shaded cavities which is why many residents may be finding more snakes in their wood piles or under sheds. Sealing the cracks in foundations, removing or raising wood piles, keeping grasses at short lengths, and installing quality snake
fencing are some possible humane solutions to prevent snakes from denning on or around your property.
Contrary to popular belief, killing or relocating the snake without implementing any humane solutions is typically futile and can create even more headaches for a property owner. This is because a niche vacancy on your property is created when you kill the snake, much like turning on a hotel vacancy sign. This niche vacancy will likely lead to even more snakes turning up on the property as they all try to absorb it as part of their own territories. An even more likely option is that your property will become infested with mice and other rodents which the snake was keeping at bay for the property owner. These mice infestations can then lead to public health threats as rodents carry many more zoonotic diseases that are dangerous to people than snakes do.
NOTE: it is illegal to kill or relocate snakes without a permit from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
WALKING and DOGS
While snakes can be found on a home owner’s property, the vast majority of snake encounters happen on trails in natural areas and parks while people are hiking or walking their dogs. If you come up on a rattlesnake crossing a trail, it is important to stay calm, stop, and give the snake plenty of space. The snake will finish crossing and then you can safely proceed once it is away from the trail. It is also important to keep all dogs on a short leash and on the trail so that you can easily ensure that your dog will not encounter any snakes or other wildlife. This is important for keeping wildlife safe from dog attacks too which Northern Colorado Wildlife Center sees dozens of each year.
Prairie Rattlesnakes are the only venomous snake species in the Lyons area, which can be easily identified by a rattle at the end of the tail. If you or your pet are bitten by a prairie rattlesnake (which is very rare) stay calm and do not place a tourniquet or try to suck out the venom (it is very possible you wouldn’t be injected with any in the first place).
Do not attempt to capture or kill the snake.
It is illegal to kill or relocate snakes without a permit from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Car keys and a charged cell phone can be some of the most useful tools after being bitten by a rattlesnake because it allows you to get yourself or your pet to medical attention while also calling 911 or your emergency veterinarian’s office.
If you find a snake that is sick or injured, we recommend you contact the wildlife rehabilitation nonprofit, Northern Colorado Wildlife Center via a facebook message so that they can provide the animal with medical attention and trained staff. (Or, Phone: 970-283-7822)
You can also contact Boulder County Animal Control for assistance with uninjured snakes that are stuck in window wells, basements, or garages.