'Don't stick your finger in their mouth'

'Don't stick your finger in their mouth' »Play Video
File AP photo shows a rattlesnake

EUGENE, Ore. -- The summer sun brings Oregonians outdoors - and brings snakes outside, too.


The Western rattlesnake favors dry, hot, rocky areas, like Spencer Butte.

The snake is armed with powerful venom and will attack if it's threatened.

"Nice thing about rattlesnakes, if you're in the area, you'll hear the rattling so it's easy to identify that," said Ross Penhallegon with the Oregon State University Extension Service in Lane County.  "Turn around, walk away."

Bull snake

Bull snakes are often mistaken for rattlesnakes because they have similar markings and color, but they don't have the rattle or the venom.

Garter snakes

Frequently seen around gardens, a garter snake does not pose much danger to humans.

They were long thought to be non-venomous, but scientists discovered garter snakes do have mild venom.  However, they lack a mechanism to deliver it to humans.

"The difficulty is if these snakes have been eating mice and bugs and these types of things," said Penhallegon of bull snakes and garter snakes.

So a snake bite might contain bacteria that could cause an infection in a bite.

"Leave them alone, just scoot them away," said Penhallegon, when asked how people should react to finding garter snakes and bull snakes. "As long as you don't stick your finger in their mouth, the snakes are very beneficial they're eating all sorts of creatures that are out in the garden."

If a snake does bite you or someone you know, call 911.  Try to remain calm while you wait for emergency personnel.

If it's possible, try to remember the color, shape and markings of the snake.  That information can help with your treatment.

Watch the Bites, Stings and Creepy Crawly Things series on KVAL 13 TV News at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. through July 9. | Share your bug bite stories on KVAL.com or send your story and photos to kvalnews@kval.com