Snake Safety

On May 8, 2017, Broomfield Open Space and Trails staff received a report that a man was bitten by a rattlesnake along the Lilac-Burbank Trail near the intersection of Lilac Street and Lilac Court in Broomfield. The incident happened just to the south of the home at 1020 Lilac St., along the irrigation ditch. Below is a map of the site.

North Metro Fire Rescue District personnel (Station 61) responded to a report of the incident and transported the man to the hospital for treatment. North Metro was later contacted by Open Space staff to gather details on the incident. North Metro confirmed that they believed it was indeed a rattlesnake bite (not a bullsnake), based on the injury and the personal account of the man bitten.
Site of Snake Bite-resized
Bullsnakes can also be found in Broomfield.  Some tips on how to tell bullsnakes and rattlesnakes apart are listed below. Also take a look at this informative poster.

  • Broad, triangular head
  • Tail does not reach a narrow point
  • Rattle on tail
  • Relatively heavy or “fat” body
  • Narrow head, barely distinguishable from the neck
  • Tail reaches a narrow point
  • No rattle on tail 
  • Relatively narrow body
What do you do if you see a rattlesnake?
Stop. Do not approach the snake. Most bites occur when a snake is handled or accidentally touched while hiking.
Back away. Rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive. Typically, they strike when threatened or deliberately provoked but given room, they will retreat.

Most bites happen between the months of April and October when rattlesnakes and humans are active outdoors. Depending on weather and threatening conditions such as wildfires, rattlesnakes may roam at any time of the day or night. If walking at night, be sure to use a flashlight.

To avoid rattlesnake bites, some safety precautions will help:
  • Wear appropriate over-the-ankle hiking boots, thick socks, and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.
  • Stay on trail.
  • Avoid tall grass, weeds, and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
  • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark.
  • If a fallen tree or large rock is in your path, step up onto it instead of over it, as there might be a snake on the other side.
  • Do not turn over rocks or logs. If you must move a rock or log, use gloves and roll it toward you, giving anything beneath it the opportunity to escape in the opposite direction.
  • Avoid approaching any snake you cannot positively identify as a safe species.
  • If you hear the warning rattle, move away from the area and do not make sudden or threatening movements in the direction of the snake.
  • Remember rattlesnakes do not always rattle before they strike!

First Aid

If bitten by a rattlesnake, follow these Dos and Don’ts:

· Do not make incisions over the bite wound.
· Do not restrict blood flow by applying a tourniquet.
· Do not ice the wound.
· Do not suck the poison out with your mouth.

· Stay calm.
· Call 911.
· Wash the bite area gently with soap and water if available.
· Remove watches, rings, etc., which may constrict swelling.
· Immobilize the affected area.
· Keep the bite below the heart if possible.
· Transport safely to the nearest medical facility immediately.