Northern Utah   |  Andrew Burr

Rattlesnakes In Utah

Rattlesnakes are a part of the hiking, camping and mountain biking experience in Utah. While it’s fair to be a little nervous about this, don’t let it stop you from getting outside. Like many ‘scary’ creatures, rattlesnakes are more afraid of us than we are of them. If you’re going to recreate in Utah's outdoors, educate yourself about rattlesnakes ahead of time. 

Hiking In Utah Safe and Responsible Travel

Rattlesnake Safety 

If you hear a rattlesnake, don’t panic. The sound is simply the snake’s defense mechanism against predators. Calmly try to identify where the sound is coming from so you don’t accidentally harm the snake. 

Always stay at least five feet away from a snake, so it has adequate space. Once you know where the rattlesnake is, carry on. Remember, rattlesnakes don’t want to interact with you, so if you remain calm and respect their boundaries, they won’t bother you. 

Simple Tips to Stay Safe:

  • Always stay on paths
  • Keep an eye on children (Read: Tips for Family Friendly Adventure)
  • Keep dogs on leashes 
  • Wear boots and use trekking poles
  • Choose wide, popular trails
  • Never approach snakes

Types of Rattlesnakes

There are seven subspecies of rattlesnake found throughout Utah: the sidewinder, Mojave rattlesnake, speckled rattlesnake, Northern Pacific rattlesnake, Hopi rattlesnake, midget faded rattlesnake and, the most common, the Great Basin rattlesnake.

Responsible Travel Tip

Rattlesnakes are protected under Utah law. They help keep the state rodent population under control, which is essential to its ecosystem. It is illegal to kill, harm, or harass a rattlesnake unless actively threatened. Doing so will lead to a class B misdemeanor. 

Rattlesnakes are most active in the summer at dawn and at dusk, but you should be prepared to encounter them at all hours.

Photo: Andrew Burr

A rattlesnake's camouflage can really help it blend into its surroundings, so be sure to keep a keen eye on the trail ahead.

Photo: Andrew Burr

Rattlesnake Bites

It is extremely rare for a rattlesnake to bite a human. Striking is usually the snake’s last resort of defense. However, it’s always good to be prepared for any scenario when enjoying the great outdoors.

The symptoms of a rattlesnake bite include:

  • Numbness in the face or limbs
  • Lightheadedness/weakness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Sweating/salivating
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty breathing 

If a rattlesnake bites you or someone you’re traveling with, you should seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Call an ambulance as soon as you’re able to. 

Do's And Don'ts For Rattlesnake Bites


While you wait for emergency medical assistance, here’s what you can do to minimize the bite’s risk.

  • Keep as still as possible since movement increases blood flow and the circulation of the venom. 
  • Remove tight clothing or jewelry before swelling happens. 
  • Allow the wound to bleed and release some of the venom.
  • Place a clean bandage on the wound. 
  • Remain calm to keep heart rate steady. 
  • Keep warm to help with shock symptoms. 

Do Not:

Make sure to avoid the following in any instance of a rattlesnake bite.

  • Raise the affected area above heart level. Doing this will allow the blood with rattlesnake venom to reach your heart quickly. 
  • Wash the wound. The venom can be used to identify the correct antivenin. 
  • Suck the venom from the injury. This will introduce the toxin to the mouth and introduce the snake bite to mouth bacteria. 
  • Use a tourniquet or apply ice or water.
  • Cut the wound. This can just lead to infection.

Wild Aware Utah

Founded by Utah's Hogle Zoo in 2009, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), Wildlife Protection Society (WPS), and Utah State University (USU) have partnered to develop tools to educate individuals and communities about how to live, work, and recreate safely in Utah wildlife habitats.

Learn more

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