Rattlesnake bites on the rise in cottage country

With an unusual number of massasauga rattlesnake bites reported this year, vacationers are being warned to take precaution in cottage country this summer.

Never heard of the massasauga before? It’s Ontario’s only venomous snake, and it can be found in popular cottaging areas such as Georgian Bay and the Bruce Peninsula. The rocky terrain in these regions provides excellent hibernation sites for the snake.

And while the massasauga is considered a threatened species, protected both provincially and federally, people seem to be encountering them more this summer. According to a report by the Star, a total of six bites have been reported so far, though they’re usually unheard of until August.

But despite the fact that there has been a higher-than-average number of bites, it’s important to keep your risk factor in perspective. In Ontario, there have only been two fatalities connected to a snakebite, and in both cases, the victims did not receive the proper medical treatment, says The Eastern Massasauga Stewardship Guide.

Generally, the massasauga wants to avoid detection, sheltering itself under shrubs, ferns, or slabs of rock. But if you or someone you know is bitten by one, the next step is to get to the nearest clinic or hospital.

For more information about the snake, or how to identify it, check out the Parks Canada website.