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Snake sightings common in Mojave Desert, on base

The gopher snake is one of the many reptiles common to the Mojave Desert area. Other snakes seen here are the Mojave green rattlesnake, the sidewinder rattlesnake and the California king snake. (Photo by Mark Bratton)

The gopher snake is one of the many reptiles common to the Mojave Desert area. Other snakes seen here are the Mojave green rattlesnake, the sidewinder rattlesnake and the California king snake. (Photo by Mark Bratton)

The poisonous sidewinder rattlesnake is one of the many reptiles common to the Mojave Desert area. Other snakes seen here are the Mojave green rattlesnake, the California king snake and the gopher snake. (Photo by Mark Bratton)

The poisonous sidewinder rattlesnake is one of the many reptiles common to the Mojave Desert area. Other snakes seen here are the Mojave green rattlesnake, the California king snake and the gopher snake. (Photo by Mark Bratton)

The poisonous Mojave green rattlesnake is one of the many reptiles common to the Mojave Desert area. Other snakes seen here are the sidewinder rattlesnake, the California king snake and the gopher snake. (Photo by Mark Bratton)

The poisonous Mojave green rattlesnake is one of the many reptiles common to the Mojave Desert area. Other snakes seen here are the sidewinder rattlesnake, the California king snake and the gopher snake. (Photo by Mark Bratton)

The California king snake is one of the many reptiles common to the Mojave Desert area. Other snakes seen here are the Mojave green rattlesnake, the sidewinder rattlesnake and the gopher snake. (Photo by Mark Bratton)

The California king snake is one of the many reptiles common to the Mojave Desert area. Other snakes seen here are the Mojave green rattlesnake, the sidewinder rattlesnake and the gopher snake. (Photo by Mark Bratton)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Snakes are not an uncommon sight around Edwards. They have been in the Mojave Desert for thousands of years and they will still be here as the Air Force Flight Test Center performs its mission for years to come.

Recently, some Edwards residents have spotted these cold-blooded serpents in the housing areas and on main base. Although these sightings did not result in any injuries, merely seeing a snake can cause fear and panic.

For the most part, snakes do not pose a threat to people, said Mark Bratton, Environmental Management contract biologist. 

"However, if the snake is venomous, people should do their best to avoid it," he said.

There are several types of snakes found on the base, according to the Environmental Management office. Some of the more common snakes seen include the Mojave "green" rattlesnake, the sidewinder rattlesnake, the California king snake, the red racer and the gopher snake. Of these snakes, only the Mojave green and the sidewinder rattlesnakes are venomous.

The best way to avoid getting bitten by any snake is to simply stay away from them, Mr. Bratton said. Team Edwards members should always watch where they put their hands and feet, and if walking through dense shrubs or vegetation, heavy long pants and high boots should be worn.

"Anyone who encounters a snake should immediately stop and slowly back away from it," Mr. Bratton said. "Moving suddenly may cause the snake to react defensively or strike."

Not all snakebites are dangerous, but medical attention should be sought whether or not the animal is venomous, Mr. Bratton said. Snakebite victims should stay calm and not attempt to treat the wound themselves. Wildlife personnel should also be contacted to identify and remove the snake, if necessary.

If a snake is found at work or in the housing area, and it creates a hazardous condition, contact pest management at 433-7783 during duty hours or the 95th Security Forces Squadron law enforcement desk at 277-3340 after duty hours, for assistance. For more information on Edwards' snake population, contact Environmental Management at 277-1401.

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