Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
BOUNTIFUL — As you make plans to head to the great outdoors this holiday weekend, you may want to heed the warning about rattlesnakes.
State wildlife officers said now is the time when snakes are out of their dens and are sometimes at lower elevations looking for food and water.
There are five types of rattlesnakes in Utah, with close encounters between humans, pets and snakes happening all over the state. A Bountiful family hopes others can be warned after their experience, which included a bite.
Natalie Maxwell and her family were hiking near Bryce Canyon last week when they heard an unmistakable sound.
"We heard the rattle," Maxwell said. "It was pretty loud; it was kind of scary loud."
The family's 3-year-old Beagle, Penny, tried to get away but the snake got her, giving her a bite on her back foot. The Maxwells scooped Penny up and rushed to get her help.
"By the time we got her down, her paw had been … it had doubled in size and she was shaking pretty hard," Maxwell explained.
In a remote area of Utah, the family feared their beloved pet wouldn't make it.
"I was just scared," Maxwell said. "The snake was huge; it was a really big snake and she was so sick. I thought we were going to bury her."
The family headed to a vet in Kanab, over an hour away. Maxwell told the family to keep praying.
Penny was given anti-venom and antibiotics and eventually made a full recovery, but rattlesnake encounters are happening all over Utah right now.
Hiker Amber Colin sent in multiple videos of snake encounters. She said she has seen five rattlers while hiking in Davis County in the last two weeks — two of them on her hike in Farmington Wednesday.
🎙️ New podcast episode alert! 🎙️ In this episode, we take a serious deep dive talking about Utah rattlesnakes: the myths about them, interesting facts and what you should actually do if you happen to be one of the few who gets bitten by one. 🐍 Listen now: https://t.co/bQ5cC639Vhpic.twitter.com/vK6riWrYp7— UtahDWR (@UtahDWR) March 15, 2022
Faith Heaton Jolley, a spokeswoman with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said in drought years snakes are more likely to be seen in yards and irrigated fields. Like other wildlife species, rattlesnakes are looking for a water source. However, the division doesn't track hotspots.
"Just make sure you're giving it space and you're not trying to bother it and typically they aren't trying to bother you," Heaton Jolley said.
It is illegal to kill a rattlesnake in your yard unless it is in self-defense. If you encounter any on your property, call DWR and they will help relocate the animal that eats rodents, insects and other reptiles.