Rattlesnake bite reports emerge as weather warms up - Tucson News Now

Rattlesnake bite reports emerge as weather warms up

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Hibernating rattlesnakes are beginning to wake up as the weather gets warmer and people in Arizona have already reported snake bites.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, based at the University of Arizona School of Pharmacy, keeps track of snake bites across the state.

There were eight reported rattlesnake bites in Arizona since January, five of which were in Pima County, according to the latest tally from the Poison Information and Drug Center.

There were three reported rattlesnake bites in 2013 and eight in 2012 in Pima County during this time last year.

Dr. Keith Boesen, director of the Poison Information Center, said this year's early numbers are higher than average for February but are to be expected when the weather begins to warm up for spring and summer.

While weather plays a role in rattlesnake prevalance, it is not a sure way to know whether more of them will be out.

"How healthy were the snakes when they went into hibernation? How many were out breeding? How many babies were born at the end of the summer when they went into hibernation and then survived all summer? So there are so many variables involved that it's really hard to predict or understand why so many one year versus another," Dr. Boesen said.

As for pets, Dr. Dan Murray with the Animal Care Center in Green Valley said he's treated four animals for rattlesnake bite so far this year and attributes the higher number to a milder winter.

Because pets cannot communicate when they've been bitten, Murray said pet owners should look for specific signs like bite marks and swelling on the face, plus other clues.

"When we look and pick up a lip and look underneath, there's a bruising black and blue appearance to the tissue that's really unique to snake bites. There's really nothing else that can do that," Murray said.

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