Gary M. Stolz/U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Yosemite National Park is home to only one rattlesnake–the Northern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus). Rattlesnakes, an important component of the park’s ecosystem, help control rodent populations. Predators, whether bobcats or coyotes or snakes, control prey that can grow out of balance otherwise.
Because rattlesnakes are venomous, visitors should educate themselves on identification and precautions. The good news: Deaths are very uncommon, and, in fact, no one has ever died from a bite in Yosemite (except for one questionable account in 1931). In addition, 30 percent of adult rattlesnake bites have no venom injected.
Follow this advice should you encounter a rattlesnake:
If a bite occurs:
Note: Non-venomous snake species exist, too, in Yosemite such as kingsnakes and yellow-bellied racers. Some species are rattlesnake lookalikes, such as the gopher snake that mimics the rattler by hissing, broadening its jaw to look triangular and shaking its tail in leaves.
Did You Know?
The Yosemite Leadership Program partners with UC Merced, to bring students to the park each summer for hands-on professional development through internships. Students work alongside scientists, educators, interpreters, business managers, and many other professionals of the NPS and park partner organizations. Some go on to become National Park Service rangers.