Rattlesnakes are an important part of the ecosystem and are not on the lookout for people. In fact, rattlesnakes prefer to avoid people. If you're in rattlesnake territory, take precautions to stay away from them, and do not destroy them or their natural habitat. Snakes hibernate in winter, so the seasons to be careful are early spring through the fall. Rattlesnakes are most active and dangerous in the spring, just as they come out of hibernation. It's best to avoid them, but if you do catch a rattlesnake unawares, give it space and let it go by as you stand still. Don't try to scare away a rattlesnake because any sudden moves may be perceived as a threat [source: Fort Collins]. Here's what to do if you meet up with a rattlesnake:

  • Back off slowly if you see a rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes don't want to be near people and will do anything to avoid them [source: Hall].
  • Give a rattlesnake room to get away so it doesn't strike out at you. Rattlesnakes bite if they're surprised or cornered.
  • Stand still if you see a snake slithering across a path or trail. Movement may be perceived as a threat [source: Fort Collins].
  • Wear protective clothing, especially long pants and high boots, when you're in snake territory [source: Hall].
  • Try moving the rattlesnake away with a walking stick, if you have one [source: Hall].
  • Watch where you walk and what you pick up. A snake may look like a stick when it warms itself in the sun [source: Hall]. Rattle snakes may hide in long grasses or under rocks and logs. Don't walk through long grass and don't step over or move rocks or logs unless you're sure there are no rattlesnakes around [source: Fort Collins].

If you're walking through rattlesnake territory, and just want to be a bit safer, you can stomp your feet. The vibrations may scare off any hidden rattlesnakes. Although snakes don't see very well, they are sensitive to sounds and vibrations [source: Hall].