PHOENIX — Editor's note: The above video aired in August.
If you're walking on one of Arizona's many nature trails this October, don't be surprised if you see a baby rattlesnake slithering across your path.
August is when Arizona sees the most adult rattlesnakes out looking for mates, but October is when the resulting baby rattlesnakes set out for independence away from their mothers and venture out to gather their own food.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Why August is birthing season for mother rattlesnakes
Even though they live in a desert, many Valley residents can go their entire life without seeing a snake and don't know how to react if they spot one along a trail. Experts say the worst thing people could do if they are surprised is try to attack or harm the snake.
"If you just keep away from them, step back, and give them space, they move on," said Cale Morris, the Phoenix Herpetological Society's venom manager. "A lot of the encounters when it goes bad is when people try and throw rocks at them or take sticks and literally try to kill them. That's when it gets dangerous and people get bit because the snake feels threatened."
Even though there may be a higher number of snakes out and about than usual, the danger to people is actually much less. Baby snakes are much less dangerous than adult rattlesnakes for numerous reasons, contrary to myths.
Baby rattlesnakes have much smaller venom glands than adults, meaning they have a much less harmful bite. They also have full control of their venom and bite from birth.
"We've never documented a human death from a baby rattlesnake," Morris said. "For human deaths, it's always an adult rattlesnake."
The reptile sanctuary is used to getting questions like this. They've been on a mission of educating the public on the facts about reptiles around Arizona since they were formed 21 years ago.
Their mission has since reached far beyond Arizona, posting educational videos on their TikTok page to their more than one million followers.
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