This Eases My Fear of Washington Rattlesnakes
I have told my friends and radio audiences that I usually try to run, bike & hike on the great singletrack around North Central Washington BEFORE the month of June.
June is the month when rattlesnakes seem to come out and find sunny spots. Warmer weather brings out the bullsnakes & rattlesnakes, who like to bask on the rocks, roads and trails.
That is when I usually give up and run on forest service roads until October. I’ve seen a bunch of bullsnakes…I’ve yet to knowingly see a rattlesnake. There is one kind of rattlesnake here in Washington State. The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake.
I’ll come out and say it. I’m very afraid of them.
I just watched a video featuring Adrian Slade. She is a Central Washington University student, who at the time of the video was completing her Masters in Biology, focusing on Rattlesnake Research. Adrian talks very fondly of rattlesnakes.
It was comforting to find out that they are wary of us humans. Her words were comforting to me: A person who is very frightened by a potential snake sighting. Adrian mentioned that they usually try to scurry away and leave when we come close to them.
They’ll only coil up and shake their rattles as a way to say. “Hey, back away! I’m afraid of you too!”
Their venom is not designed to kill us humans. It's meant for the prey they are seeking. If they do bite, it's surprisingly not usually accompanied by any venom. It takes a rattlesnake some time to build up venom. They won’t want to use it on something they cannot eat. They’ll only use it if they are harassed and attacked. If you encounter one on the trail. Stop and slowly move around it and get back to your hike, biking or run.
Here is Adrian Slade talking with Geology Professor Nick Zentner about the rattlesnakes that also call our part of Washington State, home.