Understanding Local Snake Species
The Anza Borrego Desert is a haven for various reptiles, with over 50 different species of lizards and snakes, of which only four are venomous. Encounters with snakes, specifically rattlesnakes and sidewinders, can be common in the area. The sidewinder, easily recognizable by the small horns on its head, is known for its unique sideways movement and the ability to change color to blend with its surroundings.
Typically, in desert areas of the southwestern United States, the following types of venomous snakes are common:
Rattlesnakes: This group includes several species, such as the Western Diamondback, Mojave, and Sidewinder. These are the most common venomous snakes in desert areas.
Sidewinders: A unique type of rattlesnake, known for their distinctive locomotion and horn-like scales above their eyes.
For the specific identification of the other two venomous species in the Anza-Borrego Desert, it would be best to consult a local herpetology guide or a wildlife expert familiar with the region. The diversity of snake species can vary significantly based on local environmental conditions, and experts in the area would have the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Essential Precautions for Hikers and Residents
To ensure safety and prevent snake bites, it’s crucial to:
- Always watch your step.
- Avoid reaching into hidden places without looking.
- Make noise to alert snakes of your presence.
If you hear a rattle or spot a snake, maintain a safe distance and retreat carefully.
For Those Considering Self-Removal
For individuals comfortable with removing a snake themselves from their property, a professional snake handling tool like the Ouronehome Professional All-Aluminum Snake Handling Tongs can be utilized. This tool provides a safe distance between you and the snake, minimizing risk, until you can rehome the snake. (We don’t encourage this.)
In Case of a Snake Bite
- Stay calm and move away from the snake.
- Call 911 immediately for Borrego Springs emergency services.
- Try to remember the snake’s appearance for medical reference.
- Do not apply a tourniquet, use ice, or cut the bite area.
- Wait for medical assistance, which may involve antivenom treatment.
Essential Gear for Snake Bite Prevention
- High-top boots or snake gaiters
- Protective clothing and gloves
- First aid supplies, especially a compression bandage
- A means of communication, like a cell phone.
- Snake Bite Kit
A compression bandage is recommended for use in the event of a snake bite to help slow the spread of venom through the lymphatic system. It is important to apply the bandage with even pressure around the entire limb, not too tightly, to slow down the venom without cutting off blood flow. Unlike a tourniquet, a compression bandage does not stop blood flow, which can be dangerous. It’s a first aid measure to be taken while waiting for medical help, and it’s essential not to attempt other measures like cutting the bite area or applying ice
A snake bite kit can contain various tools that can be helpful after a snake bite, even when invasive first aid techniques (like cutting or suction) are not recommended. Items in a snake bite kit often include sterile bandages, antiseptic wipes, and a compression bandage, which can be used to immobilize and wrap the bitten limb to slow the spread of venom. It’s a precautionary measure to stabilize the victim and provide some care while awaiting medical professionals, who will provide the necessary treatment, including antivenom if required
Local Assistance for Snake Removal
The local fire department offers help with removing dangerous snakes from properties, ensuring the safety of both residents and the snakes. If you find a snake in your home or on your property, it is recommended to contact them for safe removal.
Learn About The Many Reptiles Nearby
For those intrigued by the diverse wildlife of Anza Borrego, a virtual treasure trove awaits at the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association’s reptile slideshow. Discover the array of reptiles that call this desert their home, from the stealthy sidewinders to the sun-loving lizards. Visit ABDNHA’s Reptile Slideshow to explore the fascinating reptilian residents of Anza Borrego and enhance your knowledge before your next adventure into the desert.