Venomous rattlesnakes are very common in the Los Vaqueros Watershed.

 A rattlesnake is distinguished by a triangular-shaped head that is noticeably larger than its neck, a dull body and a blunt tail with 1 or more rattles. It is very likely that you would hear a rattler before you see it.

When a rattlesnake feels threatened, it will shake the rattles on its tail as a warning before it strikes. It is important to listen for this fast rattling sound (almost a hissing sound) when you are hiking or engaging in other activities in the watershed.

Rattlesnake Encounters

If you hear or see a rattlesnake:
  • Stop what you are doing and remain still.
  • Visually locate the snake and slowly back away from it.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the snake.
  • Do not attempt to hassle, relocate or handle the snake

Avoiding Encounters

To avoid encounters with rattlesnakes:
  • Watch the ground ahead of you.
  • Keep a close eye on your children.
  • Look carefully around logs and rocks before sitting down.
  • Avoid placing hands and feet where you can’t see clearly.
  • Avoid climbing or scrambling over rocks and boulders.
  • Scan the area around picnic tables before using them.
  • If you see a snake, give it plenty of room and leave it alone.
Rattlesnake coiled on top of rocks


If you are bitten by a rattlesnake:
  • Stay calm. Rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal.
  • Call 911 and get immediate medical assistance. There are emergency call boxes on some trails, see our Trails Map (PDF) for locations.