MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - An elderly hiker is recovering Sunday, after he was bit twice by a rattlesnake. The man had to be airlifted to the hospital after he encountered the snake on a popular trail on Mt. Tamalpias.
Authorities said the man is 79 years old from Sonoma County. He visits Mt. Tam often. This is the first time in 40 years he's seen a rattlesnake.
Mt. Tamalpias is known for its breathtaking views. With the sun out, plenty of hikers are soaking it in and so are, slithery snakes.
“It’s pretty scary because had no idea you would find them around here,” said Anna Luenig of San Francisco.
Authorities said around 2 p.m., a 79-year-old man, in good shape, was hiking alone when he saw what he thought was a harmless gopher snake. It wasn’t.
“He saw the snake on a trail and he thought it was a different type of snake,” said Officer Shaun Boyeau of the CHP Golden Gate Division Air Operations Unit. “He thought it was a nonvenomous snake so he reached out to pick it up and it bit him twice.”
It turns out it was a baby rattlesnake about a foot long. The Marin County Fire Department said the man was bit once in each hand on a fire trail near Old Railroad Grade.
“He had obvious wounds to each hand,” said Capt. Joe Gallardo of the Marin County Fire Department. “They both were swelling. He was feeling itching in each hand, in his jaw area and throat.”
The victim was airlifted to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek.
“It’s sort of scary,” said Robert Bozanovic of San Francisco. “The fact there is some sort of wildlife that can cause that kind of damage.”
Hikers said while they've seen lizards and other reptiles, but they've never seen snakes, not even snake warning signs.
Experts said it's common to see rattlers this time of year. With the warm weather, snakes tend to lay on the trails and sun themselves.
“I haven't heard of any so it does make me a little concerned and a little more thoughtful about where I’m stepping and my dog is stepping. It's good to know,” said Bozanovic. “I’m glad I didn't learn it the hard way.”
The victim was given anti-venom at the hospital and is listed in stable condition.
Authorities said if you see a snake, don't touch it. If you're on a trail, let other hikers know about it. If you get bit, don't hesitate to call 911.