Snakes and Stones

I love running on trails. However, I have started to avoid a few nearby ones due to the fact that there are massive poison oak bushes. I don't mind when it's on the sides, but on some of the smaller trails, its up over the trail and it's unavoidable. Usually I try to find trails where it's not so prevalent. That's one thing I try to avoid.

The other thing is snakes. Unfortunately, I guess Spring has Sprung (!) because they are everywhere. All of the below incidences were in the last two weeks.

Case 1: I decide to go on a 6 mile trail run at my parent's house on the Pacific Crest Trail. I guess spring maintenance hasn't happened yet, because it was so overgrown and the trail was covered with grass and I saw 2 rattle snakes and in trying to avoid them was running into poison oak. So I quit early.

Case 2: The next day, my Dad and I find a clearer trail (brush wise) but see a rattle snake, a racer snake and a gopher snake. Whew. On our drive home, we see THREE (!!) King snakes. However, the King Snake is a good snake, since it is immune to rattlesnake venom and it preys on rattlers as well. I don't know what happened with these three, but they were all run over on the highway about 100 ft apart. I guess they were all trying to cross at once?

California Kingsnake

Case 3: On the American River Bike Trail, in the middle of Sacramento, I almost stepped on the head of a fairly large rattlesnake. I gave a VERY girly scream and jumped out of the way.

Case 4: A few days ago in Oakland, I was doing some trail running and saw a rattle snake and another black snake with long (lengthwise) yellow stripes. I think it's a racer? I did not poke either with a stick. This would not be prudent. Did you know that approximately 72% of rattlesnake bites are due to someone (usually intoxicated males in their 20s) handling them? Less than 30% of bites are from accidental contact.

Case 5: On my volunteer run in the Ohlone Wilderness, we came across a baby rattler. Did you know that they are more dangerous than the adults because they don't filter how much venom they inject? They may empty out all their venom into you in one go. This would have been especially bad that day, since I was approximately 8 miles away from any help.

(that's 12 total folks!) 

I am not sure why there are so many snakes out right now. Perhaps the dry winter spawned a few more babies (did you know rattlesnakes give birth to live young?) this year! Whatever the reason, be on the lookout! My problem is that every stick I see, every root, every tree branch...is a snake!

Just so you are aware, if you are bitten, remain calm. Only 5 out of approximately 7000 bites are fatal. If you can get the anti-venom within 2 hours, you have a 99% chance of survival. The more calm you are, the lower your heart rate, which also slows the spread of the venom. Also, don't handle a rattlesnake, even if you think it's dead. They can inject venom even after their head has been chopped off for several hours.

Just for fun, I made a collage of some of the other animals I have come across on my runs/hikes lately.


Clockwise from top left corner
Racer Snake, Goat, Bison, Mule Deer, Weird lizard with stumpy tail, possible Western Fence Lizard, Banana Slug, Black snake in KS (huge!)

Not Pictured
Cow, Coyote, Quail, Turkey, Bluebird, Rabbit, Squirrel

Do you see a lot of animals on your runs/walks/outdoor adventures? Do you know anyone who has been bitten by a rattlesnake?


  1. I've never encountered a rattlesnake whilst out but we use to get a lot of tiger and brown snakes on my parents' farm (in Australia).

    Until recently I didn't know England even had snakes but we came across what we think was an adder (based on markings) whilst out on a walk recently. It's nearly scared my mate half to death as I pointed it out just before he stood on it. It amazed me that that was the first time he'd seen a snake in the wild (despite growing up in Australia!). Otherwise, I tend to see lots of birds, squirrels, cows and sheep on my walks, nothing very exotic!

  2. OH MY GOD. I think I would die of a panic attack if I saw snakes like that while out running. I do not encounter things like that running in the city (thank god). I am a HUGE baby about snakes. They terrify me. We really don't have any deadly snakes around these parts, but even the benign snakes that can't hurt you scare the bejesus out of me.

  3. As much as I love trail running, and as much as I love trail running out west even more...those snakes would completely freak me out! Wow. You have seen some really cool stuff, though. I've only seen deer, foxes, an owl, and one coyote. That's good enough, thanks!

  4. That's a lot of snakes! I actually really like snakes, but I FOR SURE wouldn't care to almost step on a rattlesnake!

  5. Snakes freak me out. There was a large black snake going across the road when it was really hot out this weekend. I take the largest sweeping move I can to get around them! I've seen one rattlesnake on a trail but I guess I've been lucky...nothing like the number you are seeing!

  6. This weekend I saw a dead (assuming run over) snake on the main road off our street. Then yesterday, my friend, who lives in my part of town, posted a pic of a baby rattlesnake she found under her husband's trailer. Now this post? I'M NEVER GOING OUTSIDE AGAIN.

  7. Yikes! I haven't seen any exciting animals on my runs/hikes. Chipmunks, squirrels, garter snakes, birds. That's about it. I always hope to see something more exciting, as long as it can't kill me:) Oh wait, I did see a rattlesnake curled up under a rock on a hike in Palm Springs! I took a pic and then we got out of there quick:)

  8. Wow! That is crazy. I would freak out about the rattlers. We've only come across one snake while hiking so far this year and I'm sure it was a pretty harmless one.

  9. As I was reading this entry, I kept thinking "but, what do you do if you're bitten by a snake?!" Thanks for filling me in at the end!!

    Living in Chicago, we don't see very many animals ... though, squirrels, rabbits and the occasional deer or coyote aren't uncommon.

  10. I hate snakes so I'm really careful about running outside once it gets warm.

  11. Okay, so maybe I don't want to start trail running... yikes!! I'm glad you pointed out that the danger is actually pretty low, but eek! I love your collage- especially the bison- so cool.

    Also, I nominated you for the 'one lovely blog' award. :)

  12. Rattlesnakes abound here, too, though I've only ever seen one (lucky, I guess). I didn't know that king snakes prey on them--maybe we need to import a few more of those.

  13. Ok, that totally freaks me out and makes me NOT want to run outside on a trail, ever! (Well, I don't do well with the whole "running outside business" anyway, so...).
    I am really afraid of snakes (I think I've seen one snake - a little, non-poisonous one - in Germany, but that's the extent of encounters with wild animals).

  14. Oh. My. God. I would DIE. DIE. I had to jump over snakes TWICE before in 3 years of running (pretty sure they were just garter snakes) and I almost died of a heart attack both times. We do have rattlers around here but they are in a different part of the hills and I don't run there. I would probably never run in the trails again if I saw snakes as often as you do.

    I really should not have read this before my trail run that I have planned for tomorrow morning. I'm all freaked out now. lol

  15. You have seen a lot of snakes! I always feel sorry for the dead ones on the road as my father was a herpetologist, and I grew up with lots of snakes, tortoises, frogs, etc. in the house. My dad was bitten several times by poisonous snakes out in the fields, but he didn't keep any after he and my mom got married.

  16. Maybe a new movie is in your future: Snakes on a Trail?

    Joking aside, I know what you mean... I grew up having snakes and other reptiles as pets, so I don't think I'm a scaredy-cat about them. That said, I've never come across a rattler on trail and thought "oh, how cute!" I have, more than once, screamed and run the other way. Rattlers bite! (A trail-running friend of mine has the scars to prove it.)

    Likewise, I'm wary of most snakes here in Florida. But I went to visit my family in Rhode Island last weekend, saw a garter snake while on the run. Knowing he wouldn't bite, my reaction was to stop and take a closer look. ;)

  17. OMG!!! I HATE snakes!!!! OMG. Thank you for the nightmares. OMG!!!

  18. omg just looking at this post made me freak out!! I have been doing some trails and have yet to have any crazy experiences but now I am a little freaked!

  19. wow - that's a lot of snakes in the last few weeks! On one of the paths I run on there are always TONS of bunnies and big huge banana slugs too - once I was running early in the (dark) morning and saw these eyes reflecting back at me...which turned out to be a deer, but freaked me out until I figured that out!

  20. That's a lot of snakes in a short period of time. I may rethink my idea to run a trail run for tomorrow's recovery run! I haven't come across a snake while trail running. I wonder if it's more likely that I did and just didn't notice?

    Have a great weekend Kyria!

  21. Wow, that's a lot of snakes! I only encounter deer, turkey, fox, turtles and geese, but only the rare gardener snake luckily.


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