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How to Greet Snakes on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks this Spring

PictureA garter snake found in Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park

​As the weather starts to warm up across the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, many people have decided to take advantage of the pleasant temperatures and hit the trails. Even though we are lucky enough to have these urban wildlands in our own backyard, it’s important to remember that we aren’t the only ones enjoying the spring sunshine.
 
Springtime on the Landmarks means snakes are coming out of their annual brumation and are more active as they once again feed and breed out on the land. Brumation is similar to a hibernation and causes a snake’s metabolism to slow down, making them lethargic and inactive. During their brumation, snakes often retreat to underground burrows, caves, hollow logs, or under wood piles. Warm spring temperatures cause snakes to emerge, which increases your chances of greeting these important reptiles while enjoying your time on the Landmarks.

As you spend time outdoors this year, it’s important to remember that snakes are likely more afraid of you than you are of them and typically avoid interactions with humans. Snakes tend to stay in areas with brush, rocks, and a high amount of vegetation. By staying on a designated trail or path, your chances of encountering a snake decreases. Below are a few tips to keep in mind on how to greet snakes while out on the Landmarks.
 

  • Snakes can often be seen stretched out sunning on trails. Always be sure to scan the trail in front of you to spot snakes resting on or crossing the trail.
  • If you see a snake resting on a trail, give them plenty of space. They tend to feel threatened in tight conditions and will most likely slither away into nearby brush if you give them an easy escape route. If they do not move, calmly walk away and leave them be.
  • Do not step or reach into a hole, brush, or rock pile on the Landmarks, as they may be a home for snakes or other animals.
  • If you encounter a large log or rock and cannot see the other side, it is best to step on top of the obstacle and not over it, so you do not startle a snake that could be resting on the other side.
  • If you see a snake in an urban area like a parking lot, trailhead or picnic area, feel free to reach out to a ranger to report the sighting.
  • Never try to physically remove the snake or try to move it. Majority of snake bites occur when people try to interact with the snake in some way.

 
Snakes are an essential part of our ecosystem and it is important to remember that they belong there and deserve our respect. Following rational precautions while exploring the Landmarks will minimize the risk of startling an unsuspecting snake.
 
For more information about Irvine Ranch Conservancy and wildlife on the Landmarks visit IRConservancy.org, or follow Irvine Ranch Conservancy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.