Wyoming Rattlesnakes Are Out In Numbers Due To Two Year Severe Drought
The Rattlesnakes are out all around Wyoming, so keep your eyes peeled and be careful!
If you've been out walking your dog, taking a leisurely stroll or hiking through the woods chances are you've been stopped in your tracks by the dreaded rattle of Rattlesnake. If not, consider yourself lucky!
In Wyoming there are only two types of rattlesnakes and only two types of poisonous snakes just so happens to be those same rattlesnakes. The prairie rattlesnake and the midget faded rattlesnake. The midget faded rattler is mostly found South of I-80 in Southwest Wyoming, so when you see a rattler in most other parts of the state it's more than likely the prairie rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes are Pit Vipers (not to be confused with the popular sunglasses) which means they can sense the heat of their prey by using the heat-sensing organs near their eyes. They also have a heightened sense of smell because of organs located on the roof of their mouths. Even though they seem spooky, they're an important part of controlling small mammal populations.
As the summer goes on you may hear of a higher number of rattlesnakes than years past but that doesn't seem to be the case. Even though there isn't an active monitor of the number of Rattlesnakes in the state, according to Wyoming Game and Fish Public Information Specialist Janet Milek, Game and Fish Biologists aren't seeing a change in rattlesnake numbers,
Some of our biologists have heard the same comments you are hearing, that people are seeing a higher number this year, but Game and Fish biologists in Casper are not seeing any changes from other years.
State Herpetologist (specialist in in the study of reptiles and amphibians) Wendy Estes-Zumpf says,
"Snakes follow prey sources. We are in year two of a severe drought, small mammals, or prey, are likely congregating where there is food (i.e., where there is water). If prey are congregating, then snakes would likely congregate around those prey sources. So people may see more rattlesnakes, but that's because they are being drawn into areas where their food is (irrigated yards, ag fields, etc.)."
Be safe, keep an eye on your kids & pets. According to a 2016 Wyoming Medical Center "Summer Safety" article by Dr. Eugene Duquette D.O. , snake bites are rarely fatal in the US and the Rattlers in Wyoming aren't as poisonous as other snakes in the country.
If you come in contact with a snake, Milek says to
Slowly back away from the snake. Do not try to remove or kill the snake yourself, most bites occur when people approach or try to remove the snake.
If you are bitten, seek medical attention immediately. The medical staff will be able to determine the severity of the bite and what medical treatment needs to be administered.