Rattlesnake sightings on the rise in town once again

Sunday, August 18, 2019
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Reports of rattlesnakes in town are increasing and one person received a rattlesnake bite last week.

Over the past few weeks, many Glendive residents have been reporting an increased number of sightings of rattlesnakes within city limits and last week there was one confirmed case of a person bitten by a rattlesnake in town.

While this is normally the time of year rattlesnakes come out, they are not a common sight in people’s yards, however dry conditions in the country side and rain within town may be the driving factors between the rattlesnakes’ migration.

According to Brandy Skone, a nongame biologist for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 7, this is similar to another rattlesnake problem that Glendive had just a couple of years ago.

“Dry conditions out of town are driving some smaller creatures that would be food into town where conditions have been more damp and rainy. They come looking for water in town and the snakes are just following their food source,” Skone said.

Skone added that once snakes are in town, they usually like to find cool, damp areas with lots of vegetation where they can camp and wait for prey. This means they can usually wind up resting in people’s gardens. She noted that keeping lawns clear and cut can be one way to decrease the chances of a snake setting up shop outside your front door.

However, while finding a rattlesnake can be quite a surprise, Skone noted that the chances of actually getting bitten are somewhat low.

“Snakes don’t typically bite because it requires quite of bit of energy on their part, to strike and actually inject the venom,” Skone explained.

Instead, rattlesnakes will attempt to ward off anything they feel is a threat with their signature rattling tail.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that only about 8,000 people per year in the United States receive venomous snake bites and only an average of five people actually die from snake bites annually. If bit, remain calm and seek medical help immediately.

Skone was also interviewed by the Ranger-Review two years ago when another rise in rattlesnake sightings was reported. At the time, she deferred to Bryce Maxell, program coordinator for the Montana Natural Heritage Program, who explained that rattlesnakes can travel up to roughly 17 miles away from their den to hunt. He recommended putting out traps to get rid of rodents so that snakes will not be tempted to follow them onto your property.

Other than keeping conditions on your lawn clear and making sure your property is clear of rodents, Skone noted that she is not aware of any kind of effective snake repellent, so the best course of action to avoid a run in with snakes, is to know where they like to be and avoid those places.

Reach Hunter Herbaugh at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.