ST. GEORGE — You won’t find any alligators swimming in Southern Utah’s lakes, but a man fishing in Sand Hollow Reservoir found another dangerous reptile gliding through the water.
Randy Hatch was only a few hundred feet from the shore in Sand Hollow Reservoir on May 28 when he saw a rattlesnake swimming in the water close to his 14-foot aluminum fishing boat. He had just passed the buoys with the “No wake” signs on them when he noticed the snake.
“At the time, it was headed toward shore, but when it saw us, it started swimming toward my boat,” Hatch said. “I don’t think it was wanting to attack us, more like it just wanted to get out of the water.”
See the video of the swimming rattlesnake at the top of this post.
Hatch was able to confirm the snake was in fact a rattlesnake because of the rattle on its tail and the shape of its head. He circled it a few times in his boat before taking a video of it swimming and leaving the snake alone.
Rattlesnakes can pack a poisonous bite that can cause lingering muscle and tissue damage. Rattlesnake bites are typically not deadly, but they can still cause serious pain, numbness and swelling.
Rattlesnakes can indeed swim, and swimmers and boaters should avoid grabbing what may appear to be sticks or branches in the water, according to a tip sheet about the animals by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
According to the Utah Division of Natural Resources, the best way to stay safe from rattlesnakes is to keep one’s distance and not harass them.
“Drought conditions have reduced Utah’s rodent population, so snakes will be roaming more, looking for rodents,” DNR biologist Kevin Wheeler said. “Because the snakes will be active, there’s a greater chance you’ll see one in the wild this year.”
The Utah DNR offered a few tips Friday for people to stay safe around rattlesnakes this summer:
- Reduce the number of places that provide snakes with shelter. Brush, wood, rock and junk piles are all items you should get rid of.
- Control rodent populations. Bird feeders and water are two of the main items that draw rodents to yards.
- Avoid scaring away harmless snake species, such as gopher snakes. Having other snake species on or near your yard may deter rattlesnakes from wandering through.
Wheeler said he’s heard of people using snake repellents, but he isn’t aware of any scientific testing that shows these products are effective.
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