San Diego County, California - The number of rattlesnake calls to the County’s Department of Animal Services (DAS) has more than tripled compared to the same time period last year.

Since January 1, DAS has received 78 calls from the community. Last year, only 24 calls came in during that time frame.

“Our very mild winter and several heat spells are drawing the rattlesnakes out of their dens a little earlier this year,” said DAS Director Dawn Danielson.

Rattlesnakes typically come out of hibernation in the spring and DAS recommends you discourage them from taking up residence in your yard by getting rid of wood piles, mice and rats.

“If you see a rattlesnake on your property, keep an eye on it from a safe distance and call us,” said DAS Deputy Director Dan DeSousa. “We’ll impound the snake and remove it to an area where it doesn’t pose a risk to the public.”

If you live in the County’s unincorporated areas or the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee or Solana Beach, call Animal Services at (619) 236-2341 for help removing rattlesnakes from your residence. Otherwise, call the animal control agency for your city.

Animal Services advises when walking anywhere snakes might be to stay aware of your surroundings. Don’t get distracted by your cell phone.

If you’re walking your dog, DeSousa suggests you keep it on a leash. It is the law and it also allows you to pull your dog away if you encounter a snake.