Rattler Research: How to Help Scientists

Rattlesnakes are iconic Arizona animals. Although many find the slithery reptiles creepy and crawly, they are magnificent creatures of the Sonoran desert. Now, scientists need the public’s assistance in monitoring and keeping track of these gorgeous yet dangerous snakes.

Research teams are tracking rattlesnakes in the mountains surrounding Phoenix for the first time in over 20 years. This project includes citizen scientists who can report snake sightings on hiking and walking trails. To make this possible, the City of Phoenix has joined forces with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and a local snake expert who runs Rattlesnake Solutions LLC, a trusted control service.

Arizona boasts 13 different species of rattlesnakes throughout the state. Researchers are determined to find out where each and every rattlesnake calls home, how many there are in particular areas, and what times they are active. Although conservationists have a general idea of rattlesnake behavior, such as that the diamondback species prefer low lying areas, there is still a lot left to uncover.

That’s where hikers like you come in. Residents out enjoying the fresh air can play a valuable role in the future of rattlesnakes. By observing where rattlesnakes are, scientists can make important discoveries. There’s far too many snakes for professionals to find alone, so the help of hikers is much-appreciated.

Citizen scientists are encouraged to lend a hand by taking a photo, from a safe distance, of the snake. They can send the image, with geo-tags if possible, to the research team email at survey@rattlesnakesolutions.com.

Snakes are most commonly seen in trails along washes, near heavy brush or rodent holes. The more remote the location, the more likely you are to see a snake. In many cases, people see snakes when they are crossing trails. Although it can be startling and perhaps even scary to see these snakes, it is best to leave these creatures alone rather than harming them. Even if you can hear the rattle, it’s your presence that is making the snake defend itself. By turning around and getting out of sight, the snake will retreat as well.

 

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