COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT RATTLESNAKES IN UTAH:
The only snakes in Utah that are potentially dangerous to humans are rattlesnakes, and the Great Basin rattler is the only venomous snake along the Wasatch Front. Rattlesnake encounters are common in Utah’s great outdoors, but when you find one in your yard or home, you need to have it removed by a licensed professional.
“How do I know if the snake in my yard is venomous?”
Utah has seven species of rattlesnakes, all of which are small, docile, and essentially non-lethal with treatment. But if a snake has a pointed tail (no rattle) it is completely harmless to humans.
“Do rattlesnakes always rattle to let us know they’re there?”
No. A rattler may me sleeping, its rattle may have broken off, or it may not have a fully developed rattle. Also, many harmless snakes vibrate their tails when they feel threatened. This includes the Great Basin gopher snake, which is often mistaken for a rattlesnake.
“Are there Diamondback rattlesnakes in Utah?”
No. Diamondbacks do not occur in Utah. We don’t have copperheads, cottonmouths or coral snakes either.
“Is it true that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than big ones because they can’t ‘control’ their venom?”
No. A baby rattler may be more likely to strike in self-defense, but smaller snakes have a smaller quantity of venom, making a bite from a small snake less dangerous. Also, a snake that strikes defensively is unlikely to deliver its entire venom yield because it needs venom to subdue its prey, otherwise it can’t eat for a while. This applies to large snakes and small snakes equally.
“What should I do if there are harmless snakes in my yard?”
Leave them alone! Snakes are opportunistic predators, meaning that they’ll go where the food is. If you have snakes in your yard, they are eating insects, mice, gophers, voles, rats, etc. Once the food is gone, they’ll go somewhere else. In the meantime, they’re providing a valuable service!
“How do I get rid of rodents?”
If you don’t want snakes in your yard, get rid of the things that attract rodents and other pests. Pet food, bird seed, food scraps, garbage, brush piles, and thick vegetation are a welcome invitation to rodents. If you don’t have rodents, you probably won’t have snakes either, at least not for long.
“What should I do if there is a rattlesnake in my yard?”
Keep an eye on it. This makes it easier for us to locate the snake when we arrive. Don’t try to catch it or move it yourself, and don’t kill it. Call 801-599-0922 in Salt Lake, Davis, Tooele, Summit and northern Utah County, and one of our professional relocators will capture it safely and return it to native habitat in accordance with state wildlife laws. We also specialize in the removal and placement of exotic, injured, abandoned or escaped snakes and other reptiles.
Never kill a snake! It just doesn’t make sense! Snakes are important members of the biotic community and Utah law prohibits the killing of native snakes.
A FEW WORDS IN DEFENSE OF RATTLESNAKES:
Tales of the old west, with its legendary outlaws and larger-than-life characters, are part of the western mystique. So too are stories of creatures that live here. Rattlesnakes have always played an iconic role in the mythology of western lore and are featured in virtually every western movie ever made—always as the villain. But those depictions are based on misplaced fear and loathing, not fact and understanding.
In truth, rattlesnakes are just like every other creature; they have an important role to play in nature’s grand plan. They are not malevolent, evil, or scheming. Those are human traits. And they most certainly are not “out to get us” as some people believe.
Rattlesnakes want nothing to do with us, and if they weren’t venomous, we might not give them a second thought. As for that whole Garden of Eden fiasco, if it had been a squirrel that tempted Eve, we’d probably hold squirrels in contempt today.
The snake that rattles at you when you’re hiking isn’t being aggressive, threatening or mean; he’s just letting you know he’s there. For this reason, rattlers have been called “the most considerate of all snakes.”
Snakes don’t need people, but people need snakes. Snakes made it possible for humans to advance from nomadic tribes to established agrarian societies by preventing the destruction of food crops by vermin, thereby enabling the stabilization and progression of human civilization.
Modern farmers have learned to appreciate snakes as a form of free rodent control, compliments of Mother Nature. If snakes were to disappear tomorrow, it would be a short matter of time before our crops, grain silos, and even our food pantries would be ravaged by rodents.
As prolific vectors for disease, rodents are carriers of numerous pathogens including plague, tularemia, Hantavirus, tick-borne encephalitis, Lyme disease, rabies, and a host of other serious and potentially fatal conditions. If you have never suffered from any of these maladies, you should probably thank a snake.
In the foothills of the Salt Lake Valley, and many other places, humans have invaded the habitats of numerous wild creatures, including rattlesnakes. Since neither of our species is going anywhere, snake encounters are inevitable, and we need to learn to get along.
A harmless snake in your yard is an invaluable source of natural pest control. Once he eliminates the pests in your yard, he’ll move on with no prompting from you. Best of all, he won’t send you a bill.
A rattlesnake in your yard needs to be relocated to prevent an accidental encounter. Wasatch Snake Removal will return him to his rightful place in the environment where he can do the job nature intended.
Utah law makes it illegal to kill a snake or any of the state’s native herpetofauna, which includes all of our reptile and amphibian species. Why? Because these animals are important members of the biotic communities in which they live, and because the only good snake is a live snake!