Watch out for rattlesnakes; they're out early in the Thompson-Okanagan

Hikers are advised to keep dogs on leash to prevent conflicts with rattlesnakes.
Image Credit: Frank Ritcey/ WildSafe B.C.

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Sunny weather has gotten many of us out from beneath our rocks looking for some rays, and we’re not the only ones in the animal world.

Warm temperatures have brought rattlesnakes out earlier than normal in the Thompson-Okanagan, according to WildSafe B.C. spokesperson Frank Ritcey.

“With the warm weather, the snakes will be out sunning themselves,” Ritcey says, adding they aren’t typically seen in the Kamloops area until mid-May.

Rattlesnakes are an at-risk species known to inhabit many areas in the region, including popular hiking trails and parks. They rarely attack unless provoked, so don’t let them stop you from enjoying the outdoors, just take a few precautions, especially if you have a dog.

“If your dog is running off leash and it gets aggressive toward a rattlesnake, it could get bitten,” Ritcey says. “Most dogs instinctively know a snake is something you don’t want to mess around with, but there are some dogs that are more aggressive than others, and if they start barking at the snake and getting too close, they can get bitten.”

Two years ago in Kamloops, a pair of dogs died after being bitten by rattlesnakes, Ritcey says, adding the best safety measure is to keep pets on leash and on designated trails.

It’s uncommon for humans to get bitten by rattlesnakes, but if you do, Ritcey says to get yourself to a hospital immediately for anti-venom.

“Let the hospital know you are coming, and don’t try to do anything to the bite, like tourniquet it, suck out the venom, or ice it. Just get yourself to the hospital,” Ritcey says.  

Because rattlesnake bites cause swelling, Ritcey suggests removing rings and other jewelry right away.

For more information about rattlesnakes, visit WildSafe B.C. and to see them from the safe distance of your computer screen, check out Ritcey's video below of the first snakes of 2015 in our area. 

Credit: WildSafeBC

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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