Worried about SNAKES?

The Scottsdale Fire Department generally will not remove snakes.  Try The Phoenix Herpetological Society, a volunteer organization, if a rattlesnake actually becomes a threat.


Tail of Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Gopher Snake

Bull Snake

The Western Diamond-Back Rattlesnake is the most commonly seen rattlesnake species around HVR1, but a few others are possible.

Look at the tail to distinguish it from the somewhat similar and non-venomous bull snake also common in our area.  Both types hold down the rodent and scorpion populations and are actually beneficial.

Rattlesnake bites rarely cause death to a human.  But bites are very painful.  If antivenom treatment is given within 2 hours of the bite, the probability of recovery is greater than 99%.  It is true that baby rattlesnakes are more apt to bite and exhaust all their venom when they do.  The smaller the creature that is bitten, the more damaging the venom is likely to be.  If your pet is bitten, get immediate treatment; waiting is both dangerous and far more costly.

Most snakes, like other desert creatures, will back away if you simply stand still and are not agitated, should you encounter them.  Mature rattlesnakes will warn you if you get too close by vigorously rattling their tails:  a very distinct sound.  You may well hear a rattlesnake before you see it hiding under a plant.  In Arizona less than 5% of rattlesnake encounters result in bites, and the vast majority of those are because a guy (women generally back off) energetically threatens the snake.

Snake sighting increase as the weather warms.  Treat all snakes with respect and always keep a safe distance – at least six feet.  Never pick up a snake.  If you or someone else is bitten by a poisonous snake, call 911 immediately.  Here are other safety tips when you encounter a snake in a residential area:

  • Do not try to kill or capture the snake yourself.
  • If you or your pet is not in danger, leave the snake alone and allow it to make its way back into the desert
  • If you are in an undeveloped area, such as the desert or a park, leave the snake alone. Restrain your pet until the snake moves on.  Warn others in the area.

If you determine the snake is poisonous and it is located inside your home or garage, call the fire department’s non-emergency number at 480-312-8911.  Be sure to watch the snake’s movement, as it cannot be relocated if it cannot be found.  Get more snake safety tips.

Click here to learn more.  Or download the Arizona Game & Fish Department’s excellent guide on Living with Venomous Reptiles