Avoid conflicts with rattlesnakes this summer

Rattlesnakes coil tightly when alarmed. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
Rattlesnake sightings have been on the increase in the Anza Valley since the arrival of warmer weather. As temperatures increase, so do the reptiles’ activity levels, as they emerge to hunt after a winter with no food or water.The winter rains have caused unprecedented vegetation growth, resulting in a population explosion of the snakes’ food supply - 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, rattlers have dead skin "buttons" on the end of their tails that form a rattle that makes a hissing noise
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