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SAN DIEGO – A local serpent removal expert says San Diegans should exercise caution on trails as another snake season has slithered its way into the area.

“When the sun starts coming up, the snakes are going to come up into the trails,” Critter Gitters owner David Bertram said. “They’re going to come up in open spots where they can warm up in the sun.”

Although snakes are present year-round in Southern California, most local rattlesnake sightings tend to happen in April, May and June, according to the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Bertram said snake season is here to stay until October, meaning those on local trails could run into snakes this summer.

The most common sightings are of rattlesnakes and gopher snakes, he said.

From somebody who knows snakes better than most, Bertram has some advice for local hikers.

“Snakes are not aggressive, so if you’re walking on a trail and you see a snake, most likely the snake is already aware that you’re around,” he said, “and so the first thing you do when you see a snake is just back away.”

Bertram said you could see a snake anywhere and anytime in San Diego. He said he removes up to 10 snakes in yards nearly every day during snake season.

For safety, he said it’s best to warn other hikers if a snake has been observed. People are asked to alert a park ranger if one has been seen so they can safely move the snake to a less trafficked area.

Bertram also recommends keeping dogs on a short leash, turning music down and not venturing away from the trail.

The odds of seeing a snake tend to be higher in the morning when they uncoil for their morning sunshine out in the open. Just like hikers, they also like to get some shade in the middle of the day, he said.

“Beware and be cautious when you go sit in the shade of an oak tree or whatever,” he said.