Protect Yourself from Rattlesnakes in Los Angeles

Updated June 15, 2021
There are several species of rattlesnakes to be aware of. (Photo courtesy of Emily J., of Placitas, New Mexico)

Familiarize yourself with rattlesnakes found in LA and know what to do if you come in contact with one.

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Springtime is when California residents may begin to see rattlesnakes bear their venomous heads. According to The California Department of Fish and Game, the rattlesnake is the only “native venomous” species found in the Golden State.

The California Poison Control System says that 800 snakebites are reported nationwide each year, but only a few of the injuries prove to be fatal.

Residents in the Los Angeles area should be aware of several rattlesnake species that reside in the area: 

Red diamond rattlesnake: This thick-bodied, brick red snake can grow to more than eight feet, but is rather passive if not harassed.

Sidewinder: This small sandy-colored desert dweller is found mostly east of L.A., but can be found in firmer scrub flatlands nearer the city. Sidewinders are likely to be found crossing roads at night.

Southwestern speckled rattlesnake: This snake is found mostly in rocky areas all over California, but you may see them in coastal areas of L.A. They are less than six feet in length and colors are rust to tan or grayish with dark speckles. Encounters are not common; however, these snakes are quick to rattle if disturbed. 

Mojave rattlesnake: This snake is likely to be found in the eastern part of the Basin in scrub and sandy terrain. Also called the Mojave Green, this rattler has extremely toxic venom. Another point is that these rattlesnakes would prefer to remain still and quiet rather than give a warning, but when disturbed, are quite aggressive.

Western diamondback rattlesnake: This snake is easy to identify with its pattern of dark diamonds on a light background often with a black tail tip. This nervous snake will adopt a defensive pose at the slightest disturbance.

Southern pacific rattlesnake: This snake is responsible for the majority of bites reported in the area. Extremely dangerous with a powerful toxin, this snake can be light or dark with large darker colored blotches or even appear solid black.

There are ways you can prevent the risk of seeing one slither across your property. Keep the lawn cut low, hire an exterminator to kill rats and mice in your home, remove wood piles and other debris from your property and seal all small cracks where a snake can go can reduce the chance of snakes in your home. A snake fence can be installed, but it’s expensive and needs constant maintenance.

An encounter with a rattlesnake need not end in a bite. Keep pets on a leash when out hiking and if a snake is encountered, leave it alone. A professional exterminator can help remove rattlesnakes from your property or home. More than 280 highly rated exterminators serving the Los Angeles-area can be found on Angie’s List.

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