Rattlesnake Activity in Arizona Is About to Explode

Rattlesnake activity looks set to increase heavily in coming months due to cooling temperatures and baby snakes searching for food.

The warning comes from Arizona snake catch-and-release company Rattlesnake Solutions, which said it had experienced peak rattlesnake activity on September 13 with 19 call-outs in 24 hours, as well as 278 call-outs over the past month.

On its snake activity forecast that day the company said rattlesnake activity "is exceptionally high" and people should "exercise extreme caution while gardening or working outdoors." It added people should wear shoes and use a flashlight when outdoors or in the garage.

The increase in activity is being driven by a combination of factors including cooling temperatures, high humidity, a waning moon, hungry baby rattlesnakes and postpartum mothers, and males looking to mate, Rattlesnake Solutions said in a Facebook post.

"The end of September through October is going to get nuts," it added.

The company told Newsweek: "This high level of rattlesnake activity is typical for this time of year. As the temperatures begin to drop and humidity remains high, rattlesnakes have a lot to get done before winter sets in.

"New babies are out on the hunt for the first time, their mothers are needing to eat and regain weight, and male rattlesnakes are out looking for those females to mate. Unlike the hottest times of summer when rattlesnake activity is mostly nocturnal, they're now making movements in the late afternoon through early evening—the same times we are active—which can lead to an increase in encounters."

Research in 2021 suggested that rattlesnake populations might get a boost from increases in ambient temperatures due to climate change, allowing them to be active for a greater number of hours per day, in turn providing greater breeding opportunities.

Rattlesnake
A stock photo shows a rattlesnake baring its fangs amongst some grass. Arizona snake catching company Rattlesnake Solutions said on September 13 that cooling temperatures and other factors may lead to increased rattlesnake numbers. liveslow/Getty

Rattlesnakes are an iconic species of North American snake known for the characteristic rattling of their tail, which they use to ward off predators.

They are found in almost every part of the continental U.S., though they're particularly common in the southwest. Rattlesnakes can live in a variety of habitats including forest, deserts, grasslands, and swamps.

Rattlesnakes are venomous, and their bites can cause tissue damage, bleeding, and even death in rare cases. Each year an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. every year, with around five fatalities according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Generally, rattlesnakes do not seek people out according to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Instead, bites tend to happen when people stumble across one of the snakes or attempt to handle one.

On September 12, Rattlesnake Solutions said on Facebook that there had been a "baby rattlesnake explosion" and added: "It's great seeing how a good monsoon season restores the desert, including lots of baby rattlesnakes getting out into the world for the first time."

At the same time, the company said it was offering rattlesnake fencing services which would involve the installation of a barrier that helps prevent rattlesnakes from entering properties.

That same day it shared a photo of a Western Diamondback rattlesnake that had been captured at a property in the city of Peoria along with six of its new babies.

"The best thing people can do is remain aware, and follow basic rattlesnake safety rules," Rattlesnake Solutions told Newsweek. "Always wear shoes outside, always use a flashlight after dark, and never reach or step into places that can't clearly be seen."

Rattlesnake Solutions' rattlesnake activity meter is based on calls received by the company's snake removal hotline within the past 48 hours. Activity in wild areas or particular locations might vary greatly.

Update, 9/15/22, 4:55 a.m. ET: This article has been updated to include extra comments from Rattlesnake Solutions.