In summertime, I'll be travelling around Southwest USA into various national parks and to other rural attractions (including the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion, Death Valley, Mono Lake, Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon).

There is plenty of information out there on black bears and mountain lions, and I am happy with what I have read.

What I can't find is information on the smaller, but equally noteworthy, animals - the snakes, spiders, and insects.

What should I know about these? How should I prepare (e.g. my behaviour and lotions to use)? What should I do if I am bitten?

  • 2
    Probably better for outdoors.SE.
    – Karlson
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 14:20
  • I'm seconding Karlson's recommendation. Also, information on those areas is diverse; you'll find more information searching for specifically California, the Grand Canyon, and Zion.
    – AndrewS
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 18:39

2 Answers 2


There is plenty of information on venomous snakes, spiders, scorpions, etc on the web, just search with more specifics, ie: poisonous snakes in Arizona, scorpions in Utah, etc.

If you are simply exploring the parks as a tourist, walking the marked trails, visiting overlooks, etc, you need not worry too much about it. Most smaller animals will avoid us same as we try to avoid them. But that said it also never hurts to learn how to identify which are the venomous ones so as to give them more berth if you have a chance encounter with something like a snake.

If you are heading into the backcountry, thinking about sleeping on the ground under the stars, etc, then knowing more about the poisonous ones is a very good idea, including first aid for bites. Also knowing basic camping rules, like shaking out your sleeping bag before you crawl in, turning your shoes upside down in the morning and likewise shaking out any critters before you put them on, etc.

Be prepared but don't be paranoid, millions of people visit the parks annually and most never see a dangerous animal or insect.

  • 4
    In regard to Vartec's edits, while "venomous" is the correct terminology, in everyday usage in the USA "poisonous" is far more common.
    – user13044
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 15:42

Also, when camping overnight in Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon you are REQUIRED to have a bear bag for food or even carry a bear can (bag is not enough: bears are too smart): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bear-resistant_food_storage_container.


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