For a tourist, the swaying snakes of a New Mexico national park are her “worst nightmare” – and she is not alone.
Officials at Pecos National Historic Park have issued a warning about snakes that could sneak into the park as the summer continues. Snakes – mostly rattlesnakes – are so common that park rangers have said they have their own season.
“Some places have rainy and dry seasons. Some places have the classic four seasons, ”the park said on Facebook. “We have snake season.”
Tourists should be very careful with snakes while in Pecos, officials said. It’s likely that they might encounter a prairie rattlesnake, the most common snake in the park.
The park spans over 6,500 acres of land and prairie rattlesnakes are typically found along the trails.
Prairie rattlesnakes can grow up to 5 feet long and use their tongues to smell and stalk their prey. They are also heat sensitive and may have a “heat sensitive pit” on the sides of the head, according to the National Park Service.
Snakes prey on all manner of prey, from mice and small birds, to ground squirrels and prairie dogs, NPS said. Prairie snakes also ambush their prey and strike from a distance.
Prairie snakes are generally not aggressive, but they go on a rampage if they feel their safety is threatened.
Tourists should never approach wildlife in any of the country’s national parks, but this is especially true of rattlesnakes.
Rattlesnakes can bite and release their venom through their teeth. Giving a rattlesnake space is the best way to avoid a bite, the National Park Service said.
“To avoid rattlesnake bites, keep a watchful eye and ear while hiking,” officials said.
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