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Monsoon Driving Snakes To Hide In Your Backyard

We urge everyone to remain calm. It’s summer in Arizona when the temperatures hit triple digits and the monsoon comes, and people aren’t the only ones seeking relief from the desert heat.

“Especially when it’s really hot they’re going to be looking for hiding from the elements," said Emily Taylor, professor of biological sciences at California Polytechnic State University. "Contrary to popular belief, they don’t like to be out when it’s really hot. So they’ll hide under something on the ground in people’s yards to get away from that extreme heat if they can.”

She says that as we build more homes on the edge of the desert — or forest —  we’ll have more encounters with things that slither. In fact, recent encounters with snakes hiding under car hoods and in pool noodles have made the news.

But Taylor says snakes aren’t the only things to look out for.

“The hazards of Arizona are gonna include venomous animals like rattlesnakes and scorpions," she said. "There’s also some centipedes as well. Those are the major ones that could potentially inflict a major sting or bite.”

A rattlesnake bite could be a major problem if left untreated while a scorpion or centipede sting, for most people, is not going to be dangerous — just mildly painful.

However, should you encounter one of these animals, do not confront them.

“Just leave the animal alone and nothing bad will happen to you cause those animals don’t want to sting you they don’t want to bite you," Taylor said. "The problems arise when someone is either messing with the animal and they shouldn’t be, that’s usually when people get bitten or stung, or if someone is doing something like gardening or picking up things from a woodpile and not looking where their hands are — that’s when accidents can happen."

To minimize encounters with venomous creatures in your yard, Taylor says to make sure you have a nice shed with tightly fitting doors for your outdoor equipment and other shade providing things. But these precautions probably won’t stop you from quivering a bit when these animal encounters happen.

“I think people are always going to freak out about snakes," she said. "There’s a lot of argument in the scientific community about whether we have an inherent fear about snakes or whether we learn it, but either way, it’s the biggest fear out there — people are very scared of them.”

You can’t get rid of snakes, nor should you want to. Taylor says the idea is to learn how to live with them so you, your kids, your pets and the snakes can all be safe.

Marcus Charleston is an award-winning public radio producer and writer who joined KJZZ in May 2017. He has spent a large part of his career producing daily public affairs programming for the leading public broadcasters in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. His work has also been heard on the BBC, CBC and CBS Radio. In addition to his broadcast work, Charleston is a freelance writer. His articles have appeared in a number of magazines, including Men’s Health, Main Line Today, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Urbanite. A native of central New York, Charleston received his bachelor’s degree in communications/liberal arts and master’s degree in student personnel services from Rowan University in New Jersey. Prior to his career in journalism, he worked in higher education, retail management and factory work. His interests include health and fitness, travel and reading.