For those of you who don't know, Arizona is home to more than 50 different species of venomous and non venomous snakes; many of which inhabit the desert we live in here at and around Terravita. I'd like to share some insight into the world of snakes and what to do if you come across one on the golf course (or around your home)!
Snakes, as many reptiles do, brumate through the winter. Brumation is often confused with hibernation. In hibernation the animal, or plant, goes into dormancy to store energy throughout the winter. Reptiles go into brumation which is just a heavily sedated state. They still move around, just not as quick, or as frequent. As temperatures begin to rise, snakes are eager to warm up and go back to doing snake things. In these periods you'll see a snake laid out in the middle of the road, sidewalk, or fairway. They mean no harm, they're just trying to warm up. If you were unable to regulate your body temperature you'd probably do the same!
Come summer, they are back to slithering around, hunting for mice, and scaring golfers nationwide. If you encounter a snake this spring/summer, here are some tips:
1. Please, please, please don't kill it! Even in the most precarious situations there is almost always another option. I promise, that snake wants less to do with you, than you do with it! Plus, no matter how much you hate snakes, I'm certain you hate rats chewing up you patio furniture, electronics, and car battery cables more! Snakes provide year round complementary rodent control!
2. Despite many with snake phobias think, a snake is not capable of jumping several feet through the air to viciously attack you. A snake can only strike about the distance of his body, and that's only if he's coiled up. If you see a snake coiled up, just give him space and carry on with your day. This changes if he's in your home or yard, in this case, reference #3.
3. What to do if a snake has infiltrated your safe space? If you need immediate assistance call the fire department's non emergency line and they will come and remove the snake for you. Just be sure to keep yourself, your dogs, and your children away from the area until then.
4. What to do if you see a rattlesnake on the golf course? Leave it alone! Unless they are desperately trying to warm up, a snake will not stay out in the open for long. It's much more vulnerable to birds of prey out in a fairway, than a bush in tucked away in the desert. If you see a snake passing through, let him be, he won't cause any problems, I promise.
5. What NOT to do if you see a snake anywhere? For starters, don't panic. But more importantly, do not mess with it! The vast majority of reported snake bites come from people who were trying to catch, or remove, or play with a snake. If it requires immediate removal for safety reasons, call the FD, if it's out in the open, give it space.
6. If you find yourself in the desert looking for your golf ball, use caution (or rule E-5!!!). Luckily, the venomous snakes you will most likely come across here in North Scottsdale come with a built in alarm system! A rattlesnake will make it's presence known. If you're walking through the desert and hear the rattle, identify where the rattle came from and stay away from that area.
In conclusion, be smart, don't panic, and let nature be nature.