Hiking, gardening and spring cleaning can put unsuspecting humans into contact with dangerous creatures that lurk in dark corners. Utah is home to a number of snakes, spiders and scorpions that can deliver a nasty and potentially deadly bite or sting. Bites are rare, and deaths extremely rare, but still it's best to stay out of the way of venomous creepy critters.
On the Wasatch Front, the main creatures to watch out for are the Great Basin Rattlesnake, the Black Widow spider, and the Hobo Spider. Scorpions live throughout Utah, but the only one that is considered dangerous is the Arizona Bark Scorpion, which can be found in Kane County. While researching Utah's snakes, spiders and scorpions, I found these interesting facts:
- Venomous snakes and spiders sometimes "dry bite," or bite without injecting venom, just to scare away annoying intruders that are not prey.
- Rattlesnakes eat just 40 percent of their body weight in food per year, in contrast to the 2,000 pounds of food eaten each year by the average American. Rattlesnakes kept in captivity can survive being fed just once per year.
- Rattlesnakes are inactive 90 percent of the time. They conserve their energy except when actively hunting for food.
- Most scorpion stings are no more dangerous than a bee sting: they can be treated with ice packs and over-the-counter painkillers. Bark scorpion stings are the exception.
- Brown Recluse spiders and Hobo Spiders are often blamed for skin ulcers that have other causes.
I've put together a series of articles on Utah's venomous creatures, including photos, video, safety tips, and first aid information. Follow these links to learn more:
Photo: Hopi Rattlesnake, by Ken-Ichi Ueda