SAN DIEGO - Authorities say they are seeing an increase in rattlesnake sightings around the county. They also say the biggest danger may come from the smallest snakes.
"This time of year they become more active," said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Randy Scales. "They come out of hibernation somewhere between March and May."
The western diamondback rattlesnake and six other species of rattlers indigenous to the San Diego area have bitten four people in the past week alone.
Cal Fire officials told 10News that rattlesnakes have also been found inside five homes. One was found slithering in Dulzura at the Cal Fire station.
Officials say rattlers are not only found in the East County. A little boy was bitten in Encinitas earlier this month.
"We find snakes all the way from the coast all the way out to our deserts," said Scales.
The most deadly are the smallest.
"The young rattlesnakes really don't have any way to control their venom when they strike," Scales said. "They also don't always make a noise because they don't have rattles at that very young age."
Last year, a man in Rancho Penasquitos was bitten by a baby rattlesnake inside his home.
The snake was camouflaged by the kitchen rug and struck when it was stepped on. The man then killed the snake with a golf club.
Last week in Spring Valley, a 6-year-old was bitten on the foot.
"I was going to the swimming pool with my brother and I thought this rattlesnake was a stick, so I just stepped down and it just bit me," she told 10News.
The California Poison Control Center reports that rattlesnakes bite nearly 800 people each year, with an average of two proving fatal.