Warmer temperatures bring scorpions, snakes - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Warmer temperatures bring scorpions, snakes

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Posted: Monday, April 4, 2011 6:55 am | Updated: 10:53 am, Wed Jun 6, 2012.

As the temperature heats up, sightings of scorpions and snakes also increase in the Valley.

"This time of year we see them get more active," said Steve Schaufer, owner and service manager of Foothills Pest Control. "When night-time temperatures get to 60 degrees they come out more and they'll be a problem throughout the summer. They even get worse during monsoon season. All that moisture really brings them inside."

Scorpions are a problem in the Valley year round, according to Dr. Brian Tiffany, M.D., vice chief of Chandler Regional medical staff. The hospital always sees a spike in scorpion stings this time of year - even though a common scorpion sting doesn't need serious medical attention.

"There's really no good first aid for a scorpion sting," Tiffany said. "It's going to hurt. Any anti-inflammatory medication will help, but you're going to be in some pain. You can call local poison control for more refined advice as to whether or not you should seek medical help."

Tiffany said any signs of twitching in the arms or legs or uncontrollable drooling are signs that a hospital visit may be required. Even in children, symptoms this bad are rare.

Tiffany said scorpions like slightly damp areas, so be careful about shoes and damp towels in the bathroom.

For snakes, it's a different story. The Foothills area may have anywhere from four to six different types of rattlesnakes and a bite from any will require a hospital visit. The most common rattlesnake - and maybe the most dangerous - is the Western Diamondback.

The best thing to do when a snake is spotted is just back away.

"Just leave them alone," said Bryan Hughes, owner of Phoenix Rattlesnake Removal. "The people who get in trouble are the ones who go mess with it. Many people try to put on a bravado and catch it or get a picture with it. If someone sees one they need to just walk away."

Cale Morris of the Phoenix Herpetological Society echoed those sentiments.

"If you see it crossing the path, back away," he said. "One full step back will put you out of range. They don't chase people."

Morris said snakes are defensive. They will only strike when they feel cornered. It's a major reason why an expert should be called to remove the snake from a yard or public area.

If someone is bit, the only real solution is getting them to a hospital. Cutting the wound and sucking the venom out, using a tourniquet and even just putting ice on it have all proven to be more damaging. Only anti-venom from the hospital can stop the venom from spreading. Morris said there's no need to try and identify a snake that has bitten; there's only one anti-venom used to treat every kind of bite.

One thing people can do to help a bite is remove any jewelry or tight clothing from the area around the bite and try to stay calm.

"The bite will swell up," Hughes said. "Try to keep the bite below the heart and keep the heart rate down. We know this is difficult, especially if you're out hiking when it happens. But when the heart is beating faster, it spreads the venom faster."

Hughes stressed that the mortality rate for snake bites in the U.S. is very low.

Pets may also be in danger when it comes to snakes. Morris said one easy solution to help protect your pets is keep your dog on a leash, especially when hiking in the desert.

For removal, call Phoenix Rattle Snake Solutions at (480) 237-9975 or the Phoenix Herpetological Society at (602) 550-1090.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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