BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, California --
Beale is home to a variety of wildlife, from critters to
crawlers, some more dangerous than others. The venom of one of the base’s
inhabitants can cause serious injuries, even death.
“This is rattlesnake country,” said Bruce S. Reinhardt, 9th
Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) pollution prevention/solid waste manager. “This
is their habitat.”
Rattlesnakes are most commonly seen between April and
October, and while bites are rare, it is important to be educated of the
To distinguish a rattlesnake from non-venomous snakes living
on base, such as the gopher, king or garter snake, look for a triangular-shaped
head and rattle at the tip of its tail.
It is also important to know where these snakes live.
Snakes are usually found against buildings and in front of
doorways, as well as in high brush or grass areas, base trails and running
According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife,
25 percent of adult bites have no venom injected, but still require medical
“If there’s any question you’ve been bitten by a snake, go
to the hospital,” said Col. Paul E. Gourley, 9th Medical Group commander. “Call
Beale’s emergency medical system routinely works with
Rideout Memorial Hospital in Marysville, California. Anyone who has been bitten
on base will be taken there for proper treatment.
“Unfortunately, we do not have the facilities to take care
of somebody for a snake bite,” Gourley said. “They need to be in an emergency
room setting, followed by an intensive care unit.”
According to the California Poison Control Center, rattlesnakes
account for more than 800 bites each year with one to two deaths.
“Younger rattlesnakes are particularly threatening due to
their inability to control their venom,” Reinhardt said.
Dead rattlesnakes are also dangerous because their bite
reflex remains hours after death, allowing them to inject venom.
A rattlesnake’s bite is not only harmful to humans, but to
pets as well. If you suspect that your pet has been bit, contact an emergency
Untreated venomous bites can cause long term debilitating
effects for humans and animals alike.
Gourley said it is important to be educated so we can
minimize the risk and encourage our children to do the same. If you know and
respect your environment, the odds of having a bad encounter with a rattlesnake
“We should not fear the environment we live in,” Gourley
said. “Knowledge is the most important thing to stay safe.”
If you happen to find a rattlesnake on base, call the CES so
they can relocate it. The best way to avoid being bitten is to leave the snake
alone, but if it does strike you, remain calm and seek immediate medical
For more information on rattlesnakes, visit California Department of Fish and Wildlife .
To report a rattlesnake, call the Civil Engineer Customer
Service Desk at 634-2604/2605.