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 Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, 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 in Utah are protected by state law and it’s illegal to kill one. But why would you want to? Snakes are a vital part of a healthy and balanced ecosystem, keeping rodent populations in check and providing food for other animals and birds of prey. The snake below isn’t being aggressive, he’s just asking to be left alone.