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FLORIDA | Safety tips for peak rattlesnake season

Posted at 8:55 AM, Sep 27, 2023

It's peak rattlesnake season which means you are more likely to run into one while enjoying the outdoors.

Wildlife Expert Adam Pottruck said there are multiple reasons this is considered peak rattlesnake season explaining it's mating season, there is more sunshine, and also more food for them this time of the year.

As the owner of Adam's Animal Encounters, Pottruck explained how rattlesnakes are native to Florida but they do have a favored environment.

"I know they have been found in the Everglades National Park on mangrove islands though that isn't typical," he said. "They like more upland pine flatwoods, saw palmetto scrubs, grasslands, and places like that that don't flood periodically."

While there are a variety of snakes native to Florida, Pottruck said there are a few specific ways to identify a rattlesnake.

"They have these keeled scales," he explained. "If you look here they have this line but if you were to actually feel that it would be ridged."

However, a person would have to get almost too close for comfort to notice those smaller details. Pottruck said the rattling sound that comes from a rattlesnake's tail is a warning sign they use and one of the best ways to know you're getting too close.

"If you're close enough to hear the rattle just back off. They'll leave you alone if you don't try to approach them or try to corner them."

However, Pottruck said you're more likely to come across non-venomous snakes like the rat snake before a rattlesnake, and they are commonly mistaken for rattlesnakes.

Their patterns are similar to Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes which is a defense mechanism they developed against bigger predictors.

"A lot of our non-venomous native snakes mimic our venomous snakes," said Pottruck. "They'll even take their tails and try to rattle it in dry leaf litter."

Pottruck offers hands-on programs with a variety of animals including snakes which he feels are misunderstood animals.

"They're not used to being around large animals like us. So when we do see them it's rare in things we're not used to and sometimes we're scared."

He believes education is key to easing those fears and hopes to pass that lesson on to many others.

"They belong here just as much as we do."