PHOENIX -- Warm weather -- warmer than usual -- in the Desert Southwest has residents spending a lot of time outdoors.
But they're not alone in enjoying the winter warmth. Arizona is home to 13 species of rattlesnakes -- more than any other state -- and the snakes are just as much to like the warm weather too.
"The weather is cooling down, and a lot of people think that the rattlesnakes would be curling up and hiding for the winter," Joe Hymes with the Phoenix Herpetological Society told FOX 10 Phoenix. "But really, a lot of them enjoy the cooler weather too. They like that temperature range between 78 all the way on up to 90 degrees."
Rattlesnakes are most active from March to October in Arizona. In the winter, they brumate underground, meaning they don’t totally hibernate but sleep to avoid freezing temperatures. Experts say we don’t necessarily have more snakes out right now, but more people.
That means keep your ears peeled.
"Be aware of your surroundings," Hymes said. "Don’t hike with earbuds in; that way, if they do rattle, you can hear them coming."
The experts say always be vigilant when out on a hike, and if you see a snake, leave it alone, or stay at least 3 feet away as that’s as far as they can strike.
But as long as the weather is nice, the snakes will be out. Phoenix has seen 25 days of 80 degrees or higher in November, breaking the record set in 1949. And the warmer than average weather is expected to carry into December.
"Homeowners should be watching out, especially in places that they don't visit near pool pumps, any old piles of debris, any of that stuff," says Bryan Hughes, president and owner of Rattlesnake Solutions. "Those are places that snakes can and do den for the winter."
Hughes helps remove unwanted rattlers and prevents them from returning.
"Right now, our average calls that actually turn into a snake to catch are each day, or maybe two or three a day," Hughes said. "And that is a very big difference from a month ago when that was 15, or 20, and a month before that when it was 30 or more."
Hughes says they also like to hide in boxes, so be careful when getting out those holiday decorations.