Human-rattlesnake conflict occurs when rattlesnakes are discovered in human-dominated areas and are deemed to pose an unacceptable risk to humans because of their venomous bite. In this dissertation, I investigated the nature of this conflict from the perspectives of both the behavioral and survival risks posed to rattlesnakes and the medical risks posed to humans. In the first of three studies, I investigated the effects of short- and long-distance translocation (SDT and LDT) of nuisance wildlife as a way of mitigating conflict between humans and naturally occurring Red Diamond Rattlesnakes (Crotalus ruber) near residential development in southern California. Snake activity ranges and risk of moving near human-modified areas were larger for LDT and SDT snakes than for non-translocated snakes. Snakes moved closer to human-modified areas and required translocation more often during the summer. Snakes translocated greater distances were less likely to return to human-modified areas, and translocation did not affect snake survival. In the second study, I investigated the etiology and severity of human envenomations using a retrospective review of 354 snakebite cases admitted to Loma Linda University Medical Center between 1990 and 2010. Male snakebite victims and those using alcohol or drugs were more likely to sustain bites to the upper extremity, distal to the ankle or wrist, and via illegitimate provocation of the snake. Snakebite severity was positively associated with snake size, negatively associated with patient mass, and independent of patient age, snake taxon, anatomical location of bite, legitimate versus illegitimate (provoked) bites, and time until hospital admission. Effectiveness of CroFab antivenom was similar for all southern California venomous snake taxa. In the final study, using the same medical data, I assessed the usefulness of several factors as predictors of overall snakebite severity, symptom progression, and antivenom use. Initial snakebite severity score, size of the envenoming snake, and patient mass were significant predictors. I suggested several rules of thumb that could help clinicians anticipate antivenom needs. Overall, this dissertation contributes to our understanding of the effects of mitigation translocation on rattlesnakes and the epidemiology and clinical management of venomous snakebite in southern California.

LLU Discipline



Earth and Biological Sciences


School of Medicine

First Advisor

Hayes, William K.

Second Advisor

Brand, Leonard R.

Third Advisor

Bush, Sean P.

Fourth Advisor

Dugan, Eric

Fifth Advisor

Dunbar, Stephen G.

Sixth Advisor

Oberg, Kerby

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Crotalus - California; Southern; Rattlesnakes - California; Southern; Rattlesnakes - Behavior; Human-snake encounters - California; Southern; Wildlife relocation - Environmental aspects - California; Southern

Subject - Local

Human-rattlesnake conflict; Human-dominated areas; Red Diamond Rattlesnakes; Human envenomation; Survival risk; Translocation



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives

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Biology Commons