Reports of Rattlesnakes in Missoula Area Serve as Safety Reminder
By angelamontana

Posted: August 10, 2017

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) has received reports of rattlesnakes in the Missoula valley in recent weeks and offers safety reminders to hikers and homeowners.

“Rattlesnakes move down into moist river bottoms during hot, dry periods like we’ve been experiencing recently,” FWP Wildlife Biologist, Kristi DuBois says.

This, according to DuBois, creates a greater risk of human conflicts as snakes spend extra time in yards and gardens in search of cooler temperatures and rodents to eat.

Reduce your chances of an encounter by wearing tall boots and long pants, being careful of where you step, watching where you place your hands around woodpiles and rocks, and by sweeping tall grass with a stick before walking through.

To deter snakes from your yard, keep grass mowed, make sure wood and rock piles are stacked away from your house, and fence potential hiding places under porches and sheds to keep out both snakes and rodents.

Prairie Rattlesnakes (a sub-species of the Western Rattlesnake) have always lived in west-central Montana, but they are rarely seen since they tend to be spotty in distribution, compared to east of the Continental Divide.

Rattlesnakes are not aggressive, but will bite when they feel threatened.  Their bites are rarely fatal to humans, but all snake bites should receive immediate professional medical attention.  A rattlesnake vaccine is available for dogs from your veterinarian.

The more common gophersnake (or bullsnake) looks similar to rattlesnakes, and can simulate rattling by vibrating their tails against dry vegetation. For more information on both snakes, check out the online Montana Animal Field Guide at

(Report via MT FWP; Feature photo via Billings Gazette)