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6 Poisonous Snakes in California (And How to Spot Them)



Prairie rattlesnake in Wyoming prairie

While California is a great destination for hiking, camping, fishing, and all things outdoors, there are some natural dangers you’ll need to look out for even in a place so close to paradise. After all, the beautiful weather and varied ecosystems that make California such a great place for humans, also make it a great home for animals, including a few species of venomous snakes. 

The good news is that out of the 33 native species of snakes in California, only six of them are venomous snakes. All of the venomous snakes in California are also rattlesnakes, which makes it a bit easier to tell the venomous ones from harmless native snakes. From this you might guess that some areas of California are safer from venomous snakes than others and you’d be right!

Snakes in Northern California vs. Southern California

In fact, it’s pretty rare to encounter venomous snakes in Northern California. Most people who deal with venomous snake bites in Northern California actually get bit by the Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake, which is not native to California, but sometimes washes ashore.

Yellow-Bellied Sea Snakes are native to tropical waters, but climate change and especially the increase in El Nino weather patterns have brought more and more of them ashore in California. The only native species of snake in Northern California that is venomous is the Pacific (or Western) Rattlesnake. 

In Southern California, though, you’ll find many native species of rattlesnakes. And rattlesnake bites live up to their reputation — they can be difficult to treat, painful, and in some cases life-threatening. For every species active in Southern California, however, an anti-venom has been created and will be available at most emergency clinics. EMTs in the area are also likely to carry anti-venoms for venomous snakes native to Southern California.  

The important thing is to make sure you’re able to reach medical care quickly if you do suffer a snake bite. Of course, the best situation is to avoid rattlesnake bites in the first place. So, we’ll cover a few tips for avoiding snakes in a bit.

But first, how can you tell the difference between a dangerous rattlesnake and the species of snakes that try to mimic rattlesnakes despite being non-venomous. Species of snakes like this are more common than you might think, and in California, they include species like the Kingsnake and Gopher snake. A Kingsnake bite won’t feel good, but it’s not nearly so serious as rattlesnake bites can be.

Red rattlesnake

Just because you don’t hear a rattling sound doesn’t mean there isn’t a rattlesnake nearby…be careful!

How to Spot Rattlesnakes

So how can you differentiate between venomous snakes in California, like the Mojave Rattlesnake or the Red Diamond Rattlesnake, and their non-venomous cousins? Coloration may be the most obvious thing to look out for, but a lot of these native snakes vary greatly in color, and some non-venomous species have colorations very similar to venomous ones.

So, let’s look at a few other key features that you can look out for to identify any rattlesnake, and then we’ll go into some more detail about each of these species of snakes and how to tell them apart from common look-alikes. Perhaps the easiest way to spot rattlesnakes is by the distinctive “rattle” at the end of the tail, which can produce a rattling sound, and appears as a solid single scale, rather than being made up of several scales.

While this can be an easy way to tell a rattlesnake from other species of snakes, it’s not fool-proof. Adolescent rattlesnakes may not have formed a working rattle segment yet. This is because the rattle forms from repeated shedding and young snakes may not have shed enough yet to form a working rattle segment. Besides, rattlesnakes can survive losing their rattlers and are just as venomous without it. 

Look Closely at the Head

Next, you want to look at the head shape. Rattlesnakes have a wide, triangular head while non-venomous snakes have smaller and rounder heads. One good rule of thumb is to look at where the head meets the neck. If there’s a great difference in width, you may be dealing with a venomous snake. Still, this isn’t foolproof though. Some non-venomous snakes can flatten their heads to look more like the triangular head of a rattlesnake or coral snake. 

Thankfully, most of the venomous snakes in the US are pit vipers, and this includes the rattlers in California. This means there’s another easy tell on their heads: pit vipers have two “pits” on their snouts which look a little like nostrils. These are actually infrared sensors used for detecting prey, but they’re a surefire tell for which species of snakes are venomous. 

Finally, you can also look at a snake’s pupils to differentiate between venomous and non-venomous species of snake. Venomous snakes have thin, vertical pupils that look a little like a cat’s eye. Non-venomous species have rounded pupils instead. 

Don’t Get Too Close! 

Now, these tips can be great for identifying a snake if it’s already bitten you or appeared unexpectedly, but you should keep your distance from any snake you see while hiking or camping, no matter how safe you think it is. Obviously, finding details like pits on the snout or pupil shape requires getting closer to the snake than is advisable.

 So, you should use these tips if you come upon a snake unexpectedly or are bitten, but you should not approach or disturb snakes in the wild, especially if they look similar to the venomous species that are present in California. Some non-venomous snakes are really good at mimicking poisonous snakes in California, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Species of Snakes in California: Non-Venomous Snakes

Of the 33 species of snakes in California, some of the most common non-venomous snakes include Gopher snakes, Kingsnakes, Garter snakes, and Racers. Garter snakes are common across the US and usually have two or three light stripes which make them fairly easy to identify. They’re a smaller species and the head will only be a bit wider than the rest of the body. 

One of the California snakes most commonly mistaken for a venomous rattlesnake is the Gopher snake. Gopher snakes have a larger head and they can flatten it a bit to give a more triangular appearance like a rattlesnake. Garter snakes will do this if threatened as well, but Gopher snakes are more successful in looking like a rattler.

Thankfully, behavior can be a helpful clue here as well. Rattlesnakes are ambush predators, and so will often be very still and hidden, and are very unlikely to approach or attack unless you disturb them first. Gopher snakes are a bit more outgoing and are more likely to move towards you.

They also move in smaller curves than rattlesnakes. So a snake making many, tight motions, is probably a Gopher snake trying to scare you off. If they get very close or bite you unexpectedly, look closely at the tail. Gopher snakes have a smooth, pointed tail. 

While a juvenile rattlesnake may not have a full rattle yet, they will have a rounded, hard “button” at the end of the tail. Again, you can also look for the telltale “pits” on the snout. You can also look at the scale pattern. Gopher snakes have more textured, ridged scales than other species, and so if a snake looks very smooth, that’s an indication it might be a rattlesnake. 

Kingsnakes are another common California species, and these are easier to distinguish from rattlesnakes. They have smooth scales unlike the ridged scales of Gopher snakes, but many species of Kingsnake have colors and patterns meant to mimic the other venomous snakes common to the US: coral snakes.

Some Kingsnakes have stripes like a Garter snake, but most have bands of white or yellow on black or brown. These guys actually eat rattlesnakes and are an important part of the unique ecosystems found in California. 

Species of Snakes in California: Rattlesnakes

With some of the lookalikes out of the way, let’s look at some of the key identifying features shared by the poisonous snakes in California. Since they’re all rattlesnakes, we can generalize a bit. Of course, there’s the triangular head and “pits” on the snout. But all of California’s rattlesnakes have some similarities in coloring and body shape as well. 

Rattlesnakes, as ambush predators, need to blend in with their surroundings. So, most rattlesnakes are brown or tan, with blotches along the back. Some, however, are green, and many other snakes (like Gopher snakes!) show similar color patterns.

So this isn’t a great way to identify a rattlesnake definitively. Rattlesnakes also tend to be wider and flatter than more active species. So a Gopher snake will be a bit thinner and rounder. Let’s dig into the specifics of the California rattlesnakes, though. 

1. The Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus Oreganus)

Western Rattlesnakes are the only truly dangerous snakes in Northern California. Their range extends across the whole state, with the exception of the Southern deserts. They’re often mistaken for Gopher snakes by hikers and campers and may not make a rattling sound if they’re too young.

There are three subspecies: Crotalus oreganus lutosus (Great Basin Rattlesnake), Crotalus oreganus oreganus (Northern Pacific Rattlesnake), and Crotalus oreganus helleri (Southern Pacific Rattlesnake). Colors can range from pale yellow to dark brown, but all subspecies have dark blotches on the back and sides with an uneven white border. Particularly, you should look out for a similar dark blotch on the snout. 

2. Western Diamondback (Crotalus atrox)

The Western Diamondback, or Crotalus atrox, is the most dangerous of all the poisonous snakes in California. Western Diamondbacks live in the Southeast corner of the state — think San Diego — as well as across the border in Mexico.

They’re dangerous because they’re larger and more aggressive than most rattlesnakes, growing up to six feet or more at the larger end of the spectrum. Western Diamondbacks are usually gray-brown with darker, diamond-shaped blotches along their back. While they can be light pink, yellow, or red, the distinctive diamond-shaped blotches on the back are an easy way to identify this dangerous species of snake. 

3. Panamint Rattlesnake and Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus Mitchell)

These two related subspecies are common throughout Southern California, up to the Mojave River in the north. The Panamint Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchelli stephensi) and Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchelli pyrrhus) are a bit harder to identify than the ones we’ve covered so far.

Depending on their habitat, coloring can vary widely, matching the color of the dirt in the region. Look out for a vague pattern of darker bands and speckles, but the best way to identify these rattlesnakes is by their rattle or the infrared “pits” on the snout.  

4. Sidewinders (Crotalus Cerastes)

Primarily found in the deserts of California, the Sidewinders’ range extends into Mexico, as well as through southern Nevada into Arizona, and even Utah. Sidewinders get their name from the distinctive way they move. They can “throw” raised loops of their body to the side in order to move in a kind of wiggling “S” shape.

They’re smaller than other species, reaching only about 30 inches in length, but they’re easy to identify when moving. If you encounter one that’s still and coiled, they also have a distinctive horn-like scale above each eye. Together with the infrared “pits” on the snout, these are two clear signs to stay away. 

5. Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus Scutulatus)

Mojave Rattlesnakes or Crotalus scutulatus, generally live in the Southeastern part of the state, and especially in the Mojave desert. They can also be found north and east of the Sierra mountains, though, in Inyo county, and possibly even farther west.

Mojave Rattlesnakes are usually between three to four feet as adults and can range in color from yellow to tan to olive green and even light brown. They also have dark diamond-shaped blotches on their backs though and will have narrow, darker rings towards the tail. 

6. Red Diamond Rattlesnake (Crotalus Ruber)

The Red Diamond Rattlesnake, or Crotalus ruber, generally lives in southwestern California, from about the Morongo Valley west, and then south along the coast into Baja California. This is one of the few venomous species present in Los Angeles.

Although there are plenty of harmless species, like Gopher snakes and Kingsnakes in the area surrounding Los Angeles as well. Red Diamond Rattlesnakes are similar in shape and size to the Western Diamondback (Crotalus atrox), although as the name suggests, they’re red, red-brown, or pink. Again, you’re looking for dark blotches on the back, a triangular head, and a wide, flat body. 

While hiking or camping where rattlesnakes are present can be dangerous, this guide can help you steer clear of danger. Remember, rattlesnakes are going to be larger, flatter, and less active than other species of snakes in California.

This means they’re also pretty easy to avoid and will do their best to avoid you. So if you see a snake or hear a rattle, just go around the area and try not to disturb the snake. It’s also a good idea to carry a walking stick, which can be used to move a snake out of the way if it’s impossible to go around it.

First Aid Training - Snake Bite. First aid course.

Snakebite first aid includes cleaning the wound and immobilizing the affected area. However, it’s essential to get to a medical facility right away for emergency treatment.

Dealing With a Snake Bite

Okay, so now you know what kinds of snakes are common in California, how to tell a rattlesnake from common lookalikes, and what kind of behavior to expect from snakes in California. Ideally, with this information in mind, you should never have to deal with snake bites in the first place. But let’s say you step into a snake’s resting place without realizing he’s there and get bitten. What should you do? 

Rattlesnake bites can be nasty, but most of those active in California will only cause a mild reaction. Since all poisonous snakes in California are rattlesnakes, a type of pit viper, the same antivenom will be used no matter which species of snake you were bit by. This makes it relatively easy to deal with snake bites in California. 

You should not attempt to treat the bite yourself or capture the snake responsible. Since the same antivenom will be used no matter what, the most important thing to do is to stay calm and get to an emergency room. You can wrap the bite in gauze to keep it clean and help with the pain, but there’s very little you can do on your own. Just call an ambulance, or get to an emergency room yourself if the reaction is mild. 

Common Snake Bite Remedies

In fact, many common snake bite “remedies” are actually dangerous themselves and should not be tried. Unlike in the movies, you can’t effectively suck the venom out of a bite. So don’t try to do that, or make incisions with the intention of sucking out the venom. All you’re doing is further damaging the skin and blood vessels around the bite. 

Some people believe that giving a snakebite victim alcohol, caffeine, or other drugs can help, and some try to ice the bite as well. None of these approaches will do anything for the snake bite itself and may exacerbate the reaction to the venom. So, just get to an emergency room as fast as you can, tell them what you remember about the snake that bit you, and they’ll assess whether you need an antivenom treatment or not.

Final Verdict:

So, with all this in mind, you should be set to avoid the most poisonous snakes in California, and deal with a bite if it does happen. The big takeaway is that most snakes, venomous or otherwise, won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.

Plus, the more aggressive ones you might encounter tend to be the least dangerous. In fact, you may be more at risk from Black Widow spiders, which can theoretically deliver almost 15 times as much venom as California’s rattlesnakes! 


Bonus tip: Check out this awesome video on how to treat a snake bite!


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Outdoor Blog

Living Life on the Edge: Embracing Adrenaline-Fueled Moments



Life is an adventure, a journey filled with countless opportunities for thrill and excitement. For some, the idea of living life on the edge, embracing adrenaline-fueled moments, is an exhilarating concept that fuels their passion for adventure. This article delves into the world of adrenaline-chasing, highlighting the benefits and experiences of such a lifestyle.

Kitesurfing: Riding the waves of excitement

The first step to living on the edge is stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Kitesurfing, a water sport combining wakeboarding, windsurfing, and paragliding elements, is an excellent example of an adrenaline-fueled activity. The activity entails utilizing a sizable maneuverable kite to capture the force of the wind, enabling the rider to traverse the water on a board specifically designed for kiteboarding. There is nothing quite like the exhilaration of soaring through the air, feeling the breeze caress your cheeks, and mastering the art of maneuvering a kite. Kitesurfing is a remarkable adventure that captures the spirit of embracing excitement and pushing boundaries.

The psychological thrill

In addition to the excitement of the tangible experience, embracing a daring lifestyle offers a mental rush that is just as stimulating. Engaging in these activities provides an exhilarating experience that stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s innate pain relievers. This results in a profound sense of joy and an overwhelming feeling of invulnerability. The thrill of this frenzy can become habit-forming, compelling thrill-seekers to pursue fresh and increasingly demanding adventures consistently. 

The benefits of embracing the edge

Embracing a daring lifestyle goes beyond pursuing excitement; it presents many advantages. Participating in thrilling adventures can enhance physical well-being, as numerous pursuits demand robustness, stamina, and skill. Furthermore, they have the potential to enhance one’s emotional well-being by offering a means to alleviate tension and unease. Engaging in these activities demands concentration, which can effectively alleviate mental clutter, resulting in a serene state once the surge of excitement diminishes.

The balance of risk and reward

While living life on the edge can be exhilarating, it’s important to remember the balance of risk and reward. Adrenaline-fueled activities often involve a certain level of risk, and it’s essential to approach them with a healthy respect for safety. Proper training, equipment, and precautions can help mitigate these risks, allowing you to enjoy the thrill without unnecessary danger. 

Always research your activities and location. This understanding can help you decide if the risk is acceptable and if you have the skills and equipment. Check and maintain your gear, and never sacrifice safety. Finally, embracing adventure with a responsible and safety-conscious mentality lets you enjoy high-risk activities without risking injury.

Living life on the edge embracing adrenaline-fueled moments, is a lifestyle choice that offers a unique blend of thrill, excitement, and personal growth. Whether kitesurfing across the waves, scaling a mountain, or skydiving from a plane, these activities provide an escape from the mundane, a chance to challenge oneself, and an opportunity to experience life at its most vibrant. So, step out of your comfort zone, embrace the adrenaline, and start living on the edge. After all, life is not meant to be lived in the slow lane; rather, it’s about experiencing every thrilling moment it offers.

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Outdoor Blog

Renewable Energy Farms That Make Beautiful Hiking Trails



Wind farms and solar panels are not just alternative means to get our natural resources. They have now combined with another industry and are making some unexpected news. 

The tourism industry has marked renewable energy farms as hiking trails, and hikers are here for it. You can read more about renewable energy sites. Although you might not think of hiking on a wind farm as beautiful as hiking along a famous mountain trail, you might just be in for a surprise. 

Let’s discuss the benefits that renewable energy farms have as hiking trails. 

Why are Renewable Energy Farms Important? 

Renewable energy farms are important for the future of civilization. These farms provide an alternative to our natural resources, such as wind and energy. 

The most important benefit of renewable energy is that it doesn’t produce any greenhouse emissions and reduces the air pollution other traditional processes create when providing natural resources. 

These farms also allow for the creation of the country’s own resources without having to import natural resources from another country and save their limited natural resources. 

Here are some of the reasons why energy farms are important: 

  • Allows for sustainable rural development 

This will allow landowners to make an extra income by generating energy. 

  • Test new technologies 

Providing the opportunity to test technologies to find new ways to create renewable energy. 

  • Improving the effect of climate change 

Climate change has left the environment filled with toxic pollutants, which has led people to become sick and breathe in harmful air. 

Renewable energy can change this by lessening the number of pollutants that are released into the atmosphere and providing much safer, cleaner, breathable air. 

  • This leads to job creation 

Job creation within the renewable energy farms industry is plentiful as there is a need for skilled workers such as construction, maintenance and manufacturing to build the necessary infrastructure that is needed to generate these wind and solar farms. 

The Benefits of Renewable Energy Farms As Hiking Trails 

Renewable energy farms have many benefits for both the environment and people who love spending their time outdoors. 

Embracing the Use of Green Technology 

Since wind farms and solar plants are located in areas that are unpopulated, they make for great hiking trails. 

By visiting these sites, people get to experience green technology, and by integrating them into recreational spaces, people can visit these sites and embrace green technology by seeing how they work and the positive effects that it has on the environment. 

The more people embrace the shift to green technology, the easier it will be to use it. 

Energy Farms Offer A Unique Experience For Visitors 

Visiting energy farms means you will have a unique experience while there. You will get to see how these large devices work and how they replace the basic resources needed to survive. 

Tours can give visitors more information on the background of the construction of devices, their environmental impact and why it is important for us to switch to sustainable energy resources. 

Visitors Get to Enjoy Natural Beauty 

The sites for these renewable energy farms are often located in areas that are surrounded by natural beauty, such as large landscapes. 

Natural pathways can be used as hiking trails without the need for carving out new roads and damaging the ecosystem. 

Visitors can even discover native plant life and explore the natural wonders that are located at these energy farms, as they are often placed where no infrastructure has been built on the property before. 

Providing Health and Wellness Benefits 

Hiking has many health benefits, such as reducing stress, improving fitness, and helping aid mental well-being. 

Energy Farms have Community Benefits and Increase the Economy 

These hiking trails can help boost economic sales, bringing tourists to the community. This will give the local people the opportunity to expand their businesses. 

This can also help increase employment within the community as these sites will be visited frequently and lead to new business openings to cater to tourists. 


Renewable energy farms greatly benefit both the economy and the people who want to spend their time on them. These farms are especially important for transitioning from natural resources to newer energy resource power plants. 

From learning how to embrace green technology to getting health and wellness benefits to enjoying nature’s natural beauty and finding job opportunities within the market. 

Spending time on these renewable energy farms can be educational and recreational for anyone who visits them. To find more renewable energy farm hiking trails, you can visit


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Outdoor Blog

Top Recommendations for RV Window Maintenance



Much like other sections of your RV, the windows sometimes need a bit of maintenance. It is essential to clean off dirt and insect smudges and also make sure they are adequately sealed to avoid leaks and water harm.

If you have a broken RV window, then you may want to consult Van Isle Glass. However, if you wish to know more about simple measures to ensure your RV windows stay spotless and secure, you are in the right spot! Continue reading below.

Polish Your Windshield Using Ultra-Fine #0000 Steel Wool

Numerous RV enthusiasts have praised the use of the finest grade of steel wool #0000 for removing stubborn bugs and water marks from their windshields. Before proceeding, first test the #0000 steel wool on a small portion of your windshield. Apply it with light, circular motions. Sweep away any remaining steel wool bits with a microfiber towel. Next, spritz the surface with a residue-free glass cleaner and wipe it down with a separate cloth.

Steel wool is also great when used with a spray lubricant for cleaning tires, maintaining grills, starting campfires, and repelling mice. A gentler alternative is cleansing dish pads. These pads are versatile, suitable for cleaning various materials such as wood, porcelain, stainless steel, chrome, painted areas, and glass.

Apply a Sealant to Avoid Leaks

Silicone sealant is effective in stopping leaks in areas like your windshield, RV windows, sunroof, and vents. It penetrates tiny gaps, creating a robust waterproof barrier. Ensure the surfaces are clean before application and do not have old caulk, dirt, oil, and other residues.

Furthermore, clear away any standing water on windows to prevent hard water stains. Make sure the inside of your windows stay dry to avoid condensation and mold build-up. If there is significant condensation on your windows, consider getting a small dehumidifier.

Use Tools to Access Difficult Regions

Using cleaners with long handles can prevent you from straining to clean those distant parts of your windshield. Windshield cleaning tools often feature a lengthy, swiveling triangular head that is ideal for getting into corners and spots difficult to access manually.

Opt for a Residue-Free Glass Cleaner

A high-quality glass cleaner will maintain the clarity of your windows and windshield. A great glass cleaner performs well on both standard and tinted windows, making sure to remove streaks or leftover residue. Another option is a natural concoction of half vinegar and half water, with a touch of lemon essential oil.

Steer Clear of Cleaning RV Windows in Bright Sunlight

A sunny afternoon may feel perfect for washing your RV windows, but the warmth can speed up the drying of the cleaner, resulting in streaks or spots. It is advisable to tackle your RV window cleaning during early morning, late evening, or when stationed in a shaded area for the best outcome.


Keeping your RV windows clean and clear is not only about aesthetics, but is also vital for safety. The subtleties in cleaning, like steering clear of the sun and using the appropriate products, play a key role. Adhering to these guidelines will help you maintain a pristine view during your various journeys.

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