COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KOAA) — A 6-year-old boy died from a rattlesnake bite, authorities confirmed.
The boy was bitten at Bluestem Prairies Open Space, which is south of Colorado Springs.
Officials said the boy was riding his bike with his father and younger sister on July 5. He encountered the snake when he got off of his bike to look at a mile marker sign.
Derek Chambers, Security Fire Department Battalion Chief, said the boy's father did not have his cell phone at the time and stopped a passerby to call 911.
Chambers said he arrived on the scene around five minutes after the 911 call and immediately called to have the boy transported to a hospital. The boy was taken by ambulance to Colorado Springs Children's Hospital, where he later died.
Although rattlesnakes are common near the trail, Chambers said the death is the first he's seen in his 12 years with the department.
"Responding to kids is the worst part of our job. If it's anything that has to do with a kid that automatically pushes us into a different demeanor, really," he said.
Travis Sauder, Colorado Parks and Wildlife assistant area wildlife manager, said now is the peak time of activity for rattlesnakes in Colorado.
"In particular, dry rocky areas, the short grass prairie, those are their primary places that they like to be," Sauder said. "Rattlesnakes are not inherently dangerous, so the big thing is just to be aware of your surroundings so that you don't accidentally stumble upon one and then cause it to have that defensive reaction."
He said rattlesnakes are the only venomous snake in Colorado, but they commonly get confused with bull snakes, which aren't venomous. The difference between the two is in the head shape and tail: rattlesnakes have a triangular-shaped head and a distinct rattle on their tail while bull snakes have a rounder head and no rattle. Sauder said bull snakes can make a rattling sound, but that it's caused by its scales rubbing against each other and along the ground.
If you ever encounter a rattlesnake, Sauder recommends moving slow and staying calm.
"Back away slowly and just leave the area. If you have to walk around it on the trail, give it plenty of space. And again, they're not necessarily going to come after you, they just want to be left alone," he said.
In the case of a rattlesnake bite, he said do not make a tourniquet or try to suck the venom out. Instead, keep the bitten limb or area below your heart for better blood flow and get medical attention as soon as possible.
This story was originally reported by Maggie Bryan on koaa.com.