SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Here in Utah, the weather is starting to warm up and more people are going outside to enjoy it, but rattlesnakes will be coming out too — here’s what to know if you happen to see one.

“Awareness leads to safety so that is the biggest thing,” said Ashley Welton, a zookeeper with Hogle Zoo.

Welton says rattlesnakes are an important part of our ecosystem so it’s important to do what we can to keep ourselves and the snakes safe.

This is the time of the year when rattlesnakes begin to come out — looking for water, warmth and food. Experts say they’re most active during warmer months at dawn and dusk.

“In the springtime when the weather temperatures start rising, slowly and surely they will start coming out,” Welton said.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says they’re most commonly found in rocky, high elevation slopes, but they can be seen in lower elevations as well, so it’s important to know what to do before you see one.

“Rattlesnakes are common in Utah. If you spend enough time outdoors, it’s almost inevitable you’re going to encounter one,” said Drew Dittmer, Native Species Coordinator with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Experts say snakes often like to stay places where they won’t be seen — in crevices, under rocks, and brushy places — so these are especially important areas to be careful around.

One thing to keep in mind is that rattlesnakes usually don’t bite unless they feel threatened, and they often try to stay out of sight.

“A snake is probably afraid of you, it wants to get away from you or at least wants to avoid being seen by you,” said Dittmer.

And remember, in Utah, it’s illegal to harass or kill a rattlesnake unless you’re defending yourself or another person.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says:

-The first thing to do if you see a snake is to stay calm and keep a space of at least five feet. Make sure your dogs keep distance too by making sure they are leashed or getting them trained on avoiding rattlesnakes.

-Don’t throw rocks or sticks at the snake, as this may actually make it come toward you instead of away from you.

– Let other people know where the snake is in the area so they can be aware

-If you hear a rattlesnake, don’t panic – try to determine where the sound is coming from so you don’t step closer. 

If you are bit by a rattlesnake, try to remain calm and call 911.