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3/20/2014 6:00:00 AM
Springtime in Kingman: Spiders, snakes getting active

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Searching for loose change in the dark unknown of the family sofa probably won't yield any painful surprises, but don't be so reckless in the desert - especially with spring's warmth drawing out venomous creepy crawlies.

In other words, know where you are placing your hands and feet.

"That one rule can help people avoid the majority of potentially dangerous encounters," said Zen Mocarski, information and education program manager for Arizona Game and Fish in Kingman.

As winter drifts away and the days get longer, Mocarski said snakes, scorpions, spiders and lizards become "increasingly active" this time of year. Snakes become especially visible.

"During the heat of summer, most rattlesnakes are more active during the evening and will seek shelter during the hottest hours of the day," said Mocarski.

Fourteen of the 16 different types of rattlesnakes in the U.S. can be found in Arizona, he said, with the western diamondback the most commonly encountered.

Sidewinders can be found in sandy areas and the black-tailed can be found at elevations from sea level to 9,000 feet, said Mocarski.

While rarely fatal, snakebite is a serious event.

"People should forget everything they've seen in old movies and seek medical attention immediately," said Mocarski. "There's no such thing as an ordinary snakebite. People often ask me which is the most dangerous rattlesnake and my reply is simple: 'The one that just bit you.'"

The Mohave rattler has the most potent venom, he said, but the diamondback bites more often and kills more people.

Snakes can be found in the city, but people are more likely to encounter spiders and scorpions.

The black widow and brown spiders are the two considered a threat in Arizona, he said.

Pay attention to the victim's reaction, Mocarski said, because people react differently to venom. Scorpion bites are usually a little more severe than a bee sting, he said, but then again, a single bee sting can kill some people.

"The bark scorpion is the only scorpion considered a threat to the people in Arizona," he said, "but anyone stung should always pay attention to how they are reacting."

The only dangerous lizard in the state is the Gila monster - a reptile Mocarski said is easily avoidable since it "wants nothing to do with people."

"Leave them alone and they'll leave you alone," he said. "While I'm sure there has been an accidental bite somewhere throughout history, I've yet to hear about it."

The Gila monster is protected and it is illegal to disturb them in any way. If bitten by one, be sure to have a stick handy. You'll have to pry open its jaws.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Article comment by: Desert Trip

I lived in the Mojave Desert for over 30 years (in an area with 4 types of rattlesnakes) and am relocating to north Kingman area. More specifically, the rocky foothills of the Sunward Ho development area.

How many of the 14 types of rattlesnakes living in Arizona, live in that area? What is the most common there?

Also, are there rattlesnake avoidance dog training classes in the area and are they reasonably priced?

Thanks in advance!

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Athens

I have always battled black widows, still do. In Tx, under huge oleanders, I would take someone to hold the light and kill dozens every night, finally had the huge oleanders taken out.

They are always in Kingman but remember, their web is sticky, when you get it on your hands, it's very hard to get off so you know a widow is there. Wait until after dark when they come out, find them in their webs and kill them.

The writer is right, they are often under outdoor chairs, benches. ALWAYS check them good before sitting on them. Holes in rock fences is another abode for them. Don't mess w/chemicals or traps. They are easily found w/nightfall, their webs and a flashlight and stick, rock, fly swatter to kill them.

My brother was a surveyer his entire life. He shot so many rattlesnakes in AZ, he had an enormous jar of rattles and would simply shake it at me and the sound made my blood run cold. Dozens were from the Lake Havasu City area when they were laying out the beginning of the town.

And yes, a gila monster walked across the top of my shoe as my Mother and I were once hiking on a path outside Kingman. She said one word, FREEZE, and we froze as it appeared suddenly, went over my shoe and right on up the mountainside. Beautifully colored, I nearly died of fright.

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Article comment by: Darrell Johnson

you have just been bit by a snake, first don't panic walk don't run to get help, do nothing to increase your heart rate, and the hardest part, try to identify the snake that bit you, you have three major snakes to identify, the Mohave green, the Diamondback, and the sidewinder, know what they look like, it will help at the ER

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Article comment by: listen up .....

One of the dangerous spiders' favourite places is under benches at parks. Consider spider traps for your house (can be purchased online).

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Article comment by: Good Article

Thanks for the info, it is ALWAYS good to learn what to do when bitten.

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