Watch your step: Warm weather is bringing out rattlesnakes

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SAN DIEGO -- As the weather gets warmer, many of us come out of hiding to enjoy the outdoors. But be warned: rattlesnakes do too.

April marks the start of “prime rattlesnake season"

Nicole Smith and her family were out at Mission Trails Regional Park when they had their close encounter. "I almost stepped on one," she told FOX 5. “It was so close to me. I heard it rattling before I saw it and just jumped away. When we looked back it was all coiled up, ready to strike I guess."

It was a close call for Smith, but she isn’t alone and she won’t be the last.

“They are masters of camouflage,” San Diego Humane Society Officer Samantha Bilodeau said.  “Most people walk by them on a daily basis and don’t realize it.”

The Humane Society says rattlesnake sightings have spiked in all parts of the county, with warm weather drawing the snakes out to sunbathe. Encounters that can be deadly, so staying vigilant and steering clear of them is essential.

“Be aware of your surroundings, especially if you’re outside with children or animals,” Bilodeau said. “If you’re leaving doors open, wide open with no screen protection, creatures can come inside, as well.”

Most incidents happen out on San Diego's hiking trails. Humane Society officials recommend wearing protective footwear, avoiding tall grass, weeds and brush, and keeping your pets close on a leash.

If you see a snake anywhere near your your yard or home, residents can call the Humane Society. Animal control officers can safely capture the snake and take it to an area where it won’t pose a threat to the public.

If bitten, the county says you should call 911 and remove any constricting clothing or accessories like rings or watchbands.

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