What to know about living in rattlesnake country

This Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake, Crotalus pyrrhus, shelters itself in the rocks off a truck trail. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
Rattlesnake sightings and interactions have been on the increase since warm weather has arrived in the Anza Valley. As temperatures increase, so do the reptiles’ activity levels, as they emerge to hunt after a winter with no food or water.So far this season there have been dozens of reported rattler sightings and it’s up to us to be alert for unintended contact.The winter rains have resulted in a population explosion of the snakes’ preferred prey, small rodents like mice, rats and ground squirrels. To hunt, a rattlesnake utilizes heat-sensing organs on each side of its face, called loreal pits, that help it locate prey. Snake species that have these organs are called pit vipers, a group that includes rattlesnakes, water moccasins and copperheads.Unlike other pit vipers, r
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