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We Live In Rattlesnake Country

Nature in Santa Clarita, it’s not what you look at but what you see.

-Wendy Langhans

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake!  Even the mention of the word can strike terror into the hearts of normally calm people.  Perhaps it’s their unblinking stare or the way they swallow their prey whole.  Or perhaps it’s their poisonous venom.


In our valley, we have the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake and the Northern Mojave Rattlesnake, sometimes known as the Mojave Green.  The venom of the Southern Pacific rattlesnake is a hemotoxin, which means it destroys blood cells and tissue.  The venom of the Mojave Green, on the other hand, is a neurotoxin, which destroys nerve cells and tissue.  It is a much more dangerous snake.


Yes, we have good reason to be cautious of rattlesnakes but we need not panic.  For one thing, your odds of being bitten are small.  According to California Dept. of Fish and Game literature, there are on average about 800 rattlesnake bites a year in the entire US, with 1-2 deaths.


Northern Mojave Rattlesnake – NASA Photo By Carla Thomas

And the trouble with panic is that it makes you react, rather than thinking things through.  There are five common-sense things we can do to minimize the risk of being bitten.


First – wear close-toed shoes, preferably high enough to cover the ankle.  Put some protection between your tootsies and the snake.  Long, loose fitting pants are also recommended.


Second – stay on the trail.  If you are wandering through the thick brush, you will be stepping in places that you can’t see. 


Third – don’t put your hands and feet anywhere you haven’t visually check out first.  Don’t step over a rock or log, step on it first.


Fourth – if you see a snake, back off and give it room to escape.


And fifth – don’t hike alone and know how to contact help before you head off on your hike.


Believe it or not, snakes are useful.  For example, they keep a check on the rodent population.  I challenge people with this thought – if you love to listen to songbirds, you have to thank the snakes.  For without snakes, the rodents would eat many of the songbirds’ eggs.


This weekend, there will be a trash clean-up in Whitney Canyon on Saturday and Sunday from 9-3.  Call Dianne at 661-259-2743 for details.  Whitney Canyon is located at the intersection of Hwy 14 and San Fernando Road.


Our next hike is scheduled at Towsley Canyon on Saturday, June 9, from 7:30-9:30 AM.  Welcome to the Towsley Shopping Mall: Native Americans use plants to support their everyday needs. Towsley Canyon is located on the Old Road, west of I-5 and about 1/4 mile south of the Calgrove exit.


You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to

To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to tune in to AM 1220.

We Live In Rattlesnake Country

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