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To the Hiker Who Bludgeoned a Rattlesnake at the Pismo Preserve This Weekend


Active Member
Staff member

On Friday, you stabbed a rattlesnake eight times on a nature preserve. You used the stake holding a sign asking you to avoid disturbing the rattlesnakes to kill her. You ignored pleas from other hikers to leave her alone. You cut the rattle off the still-living snake to take as a prize.

The adult female rattlesnake was at least ten years old. She lived peacefully in what is now the preserve for all those years. You left her severely injured, where she suffered for two days until I rescued her. Emergency surgery failed to save her life or those of her twelve babies.

There is no good reason to take the life of a rattlesnake. They only bite when they feel threatened. Rattlesnakes eat many rodents, thereby protecting plants and helping limit the spread of Lyme and other diseases. Rattlesnakes experience fear and pain, they learn and remember, and they can live for over 60 years, forming complex social networks with family and friends. In August the snake you killed would be giving live birth to her pups, complete with little umbilical cords and placentas, and she would protect them until they went out on their own.

Please treat wildlife with respect and compassion.


Emily Taylor
Owner, Central Coast Snake Services
Professor of Biological Sciences, Cal Poly

Two Coronado Island Rattlesnake (Crotalus caliginis) photographed by Jeff Lemm​

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