Watch where you're walking, it's snake season again, and a 74-year-old Sahuarita man was Green Valley Fire District's first bite victim of the year

GVFD spokesman L.T. Pratt said the man was bitten at his home Wednesday in the 17000 block of South Placita Mayo. The man met paramedics at his door with two puncture wounds on his right index finger, which was already stiff and swollen.

Pratt said the man heard hissing coming from under an air compressor and was bitten while checking underneath for a leak.

The man told paramedics he killed the snake before calling 9-1-1. Paramedics transported him to Banner's main campus in Tucson.

Arizona Game and Fish Department spokesman Mark Hart said you'll likely hear a snake before you see it. Once you do get eyes on it, back away slowly and avoid making any sudden moves, he said.

"Until it gets really hot, they're going to be active during the day," Hart said. "So, people need to be aware of how and when they are out because they're going to be moving around during the day."

Hart said people should try to maintain a six-foot distance from a snake, and they can strike two-thirds of their body length. However, it could be hard to gauge just how long a snake is when it's coiled and rattling, he said.

"So, at least six feet, but they'll let you know they're there," Hart said. "And people need to realize, size-wise, you're pretty intimidating to it, too."

In the event you do get bit by a snake, Pratt said the best thing to do is call 9-1-1 immediately and raise the injured limb until paramedics arrive. He also said it is OK to use ice on the wound.

However, Pratt cautioned against self-transporting to a hospital.

While most hospitals in the Southwest would have anti-venom in stock during regular, non-emergency periods, there's no guarantee that they will have it on hand, he said.

"You can take a gamble by driving yourself to medical treatment and end up at a place that might not have that (anti-)venom," Pratt said. "We can find out just by quick radio calls."

And getting treatment as quickly as possible is essential when it comes to snake bites.

"This is definitely not something that you just want to stay home and see how it handles," Pratt said. "This would be a medical emergency. You need to call 9-1-1, we'll be on our way and we'll take care of you."

Snake season can vary on the weather, but it usually runs early March to early April and will last until temperatures drop back around 60 to 65 degrees, Pratt said.

People should also be aware of rodents and holes on their property, Hart said.

Rodents will attract snakes, and they will also use the holes for homes.

Hart said people should use snap traps and live traps for rodent control and fill in holes on the property.

Pratt said people should be careful when cleaning under objects or piles, especially if they've been sitting for long periods.

"The big thing is now that the weather is starting to warm up, these snakes will become more active," he said. "That's usually when people get bit. They'll be cleaning out a pile or their patio or whatever where debris has accumulated and they're just not thinking about it. It only takes a moment to reach down into someplace, and you can get yourself bit."

Jorge Encinas | 520-547-9732