I love St. George and am proud to say I've lived in Washington County for 30 years.

But if I were to move, my No. 1 choice would be Hawaii. The obvious reasons would be amazing weather, great culture and endless beaches. While those are valid points, the No.1 reason is actually more logical (to me, anyway).

See, I hate snakes. And HAWAII HAS NO SNAKES.

OK, technically there is one: "There is one snake that does live in Hawaii, likely an import from the Philippines: the Island Blind Snake. This snake is harmless and so small that it is often mistaken for an earthworm. In general, it is safe to say that the chances of you coming across a snake on your Hawaii vacation are pretty much zero."

Meanwhile, our beloved Utah is lovingly (?) nicknamed Snake Country by herpetologists.

In Utah, there are approximately 31 species of snakes. Seven of them are venomous and COULD KILL YOU. According to wildawareutah.org:

The venomous snakes in Utah have broad, triangular-shaped heads, and vertical eye pupils. There are heat sensory ‘pits’ on each side of the snake’s head between the nostrils and eyes. Most venomous snakes in Utah have rattles on their tails. Non-venomous snakes have longer snouts and round pupils.

So, you know, check for that before you let one of them sink its teeth into your calf or ankle.

The seven deadly snakes in Utah are the sidewinder, speckled rattlesnake, Mojave rattlesnake, Western rattlesnake, Hopi rattlesnake, midget-faded rattlesnake and the Great Basin rattlesnake

The same website has this advice while recreating, when it comes to snakes:

  • If you encounter a snake outside of human development, leave it alone — it’s in its natural habitat.
  • Never try to poke, handle, corner or harass a snake.
  • Most snake bites occur when people are trying to handle or kill the snake. Teach children to respect wildlife and to look, but not touch.
  • Snakes hide well on open trails and in dense grasses. Be aware of your surroundings. Look carefully where you place your feet, and before you sit down on the ground, on rocks, or on logs.
  • Wear close-toed shoes while hiking.
  • If you hear a rattle, don’t jump or panic. Try to locate where the sound is coming from before trying to move. Warn others if they are around.
  • If bitten, treat it as if it were a venomous snakebite. Do not use a tourniquet or cold compress. Do not suck out the venom. Keep the victim calm, remove restrictive clothing and jewelry near the bite, and keep the affected area below the level of the heart. Treat for shock, if necessary, and get medical attention immediately.

The last bit of advice from this recent Standard-Examiner article:

All venomous snakebites should be considered life-threatening and time is of the essence after the bite. If someone get’s bitten:

  • If possible, call ahead to the emergency room so anti-venom can be ready when the victim arrives.
  • Keep the victim calm, restrict movement and keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom.
  • Wash the bite area with soap and water.
  • Remove any rings or constricting items, as the affected area will swell.
  • Cover the bite with clean, moist dressing to reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Monitor the victim’s vital signs (pulse, temperature, breathing, blood pressure).
  • If there are signs of shock, lay the victim flat and cover with a warm blanket. Get medical help immediately.
  • Bring the snake — if it’s dead — for identification but only if this can be done without further risk of injury.

Contact Terry Messmer, Utah State University Extension Wildlife Specialist, 435-797-3975, terry.messmer@usu.edu for more information

After all that, Hawaii is starting to sound better and better.

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