By Howard Nathan

DENVER (CBS4) – Rattlesnakes are active this time of year, but there are steps people can take to make sure they don’t get bitten.

READ MORE: Colorado Researchers Discover Hint Of Scorching-Hot Planet Orbiting Vega

CBS4’s Howard Nathan went to the Denver Zoo to get a close look at a rattlesnake. They’re out there on hiking and biking trails. It didn’t take long to find people on trails in Jefferson County to give their snake encounter stories.

A rattlesnake at the Denver Zoo (credit: CBS)

A rattlesnake at the Denver Zoo (credit: CBS)

”It had a little rattle on it?” Nathan asked Lu Lu Holland of Arvada.

“Yeah,” she replied.

“And what’s the first thing you said?” Nathan asked.

“Look, there’s a snake,” she said laughing.

(credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Back at the zoo, Nathan took a closer look at a rattlesnake with the rattler rattling.

“That’s not a warning?” Nathan asked Rick Haeffner, a reptile expert at the Denver Zoo.

DR. DAVE HNIDA’S BLOG: Don’t Be Snake-Bit … And What To Do If You Are

“It’s a warning, yup. It’s a ‘nervousness,’” Haeffner replied. “And it’s a warning.”

Haeffner says every year in Colorado rattlers strike 40 to 50 times. Fortunately, three out of five bites come without venom so the odds might be in a bite victim’s favor. However, rattlers will get nasty when threatened or met with bad human behavior.

READ MORE: Wheat Ridge-Based Travel Company To Refund More Than $800,000 For Trips Canceled At Beginning Of Pandemic
A rattlesnake at the Denver Zoo (credit: CBS)

A rattlesnake at the Denver Zoo (credit: CBS)

“Well they try to throw rocks at it or hit it with sticks. You combine alcohol and youth, an exciting situation and bites happen frequently in those scenarios,” Haeffner said.

Keep in mind a rattler that’s coiled is primed to attack, but if bitten, don’t run.

“If you’re running, if you start hyperventilating, you’re going to cause more blood circulation and you’re going to move the venom through your body faster,” Haeffner said.

The best bet when encountering a snake is to keep distance.

A rattlesnake at the Denver Zoo (credit: CBS)

A rattlesnake at the Denver Zoo (credit: CBS)

“What did you do when you saw the rattlesnake?” Nathan asked Charles Austin of Arvada.

“Walk out and around it,” he replied.

That’s easier said than done if you find yourself within two feet of one.

“I would remain perfectly still and let the snake calm down, It will probably move off on its own,” Haeffner said.

Haeffner says after a bite do not apply a tourniquet because that will cause more localized swelling, which happens anyway within 15 minutes. If you’re wearing a ring and don’t want it cut off, remove the ring as soon as possible.

If you’re thinking after you’ve been bitten maybe you can suck out the poison, Haeffner says not to bother. The best bet is immediately seeking medical attention of a doctor for help.

Wearing sandals with feet exposed to a rattlesnake might be mistake. Enjoy the outdoors and keep a cellphone handy just in case.

MORE NEWS: 'Women In Their Infinite Forms': Exhibit By 11 Local Artists On Display At Denver Milk Market

Howard Nathan is a veteran newsman. Decades later, he still enjoys writing a clever sentence, asking the tough question and talking to people in Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Howard and read his bio.