News | June 7, 2018

There's a (rattle)snake in my boot

By Senior Airman Justin Parsons 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Once again summer is here and with it comes a reminder that rattlesnakes have come out of their winter slumber and pose a danger to those who get too close.

However, Chadwick Mccready, 9th Civil Engineer Squadron wildlife biologist, believes with a little knowledge, precaution, and awareness Airmen and their families can have a fun, safe summer.

"The northern pacific rattlesnake that calls Beale home typically becomes active in late March through early May once the temperature hits 80 degrees," Mccready said. "They won't return to brumation until sometime in October."

A rattlesnake is distinguishable from non-venomous snakes living on base, such as the gopher, king or garter snake, look for a triangular-shaped head and rattle at the tip of its tail.

It's also important to know where these snakes are typically found.

According to Mccready, rattlesnakes can't handle extreme temperatures at mid day and you are more likely to encounter them in the morning or evening around places like trails, sidewalks, and your house.

"I always suggest that if you are in rattlesnake country keep an eye on the ground," Mccready said. "Most people get bit because they didn't see the snake and ended up getting too close."

Remembering to do things like checking under your car, keeping an eye on the ground as you walk, and not picking objects outside without getting a visual underneath, are key to ensuring you don't get an unwanted bite.

If you see a rattlesnake in military housing please call Balfour Beatty Community at 788-0241. For snakes on main base, contact the 9th CE customer service desk at 634-2604/2605. For after-hours assistance, please call law enforcement at 634-2131.

In the unfortunate event you do receive a bite, Mccready recommends remaining calm and do your best to keep your heart rate down, place ice on the wound and elevate it and get to a hospital as soon as possible.

The wildlife biologist also addressed that using a tourniquet or trying to suck the poison out are myths and will only exacerbate your situation.
Mccready said, "These methods aren't real and will only make your situation worse."

Having a deep respect and admiration for the wildlife on can mitigate conflicts between the base populace and the local wildlife as much as possible.

"It's always great to be able to educate the public about our local snakes and to inform them on ways to prevent potential conflicts," Mccready said.