Rattlesnake Do's and Don'ts in the Trails of the Conejo Valley and Neighboring Areas

I've seen more snakes in the trails of the Conejo Valley in recent years than I can ever recall, some, but not all of which are rattlesnakes.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive but can strike when they feel threatened or provoked. If you come across one on the trail, just back off and give them room to retreat. They don't want to mess with you!

Rattler crossing the Rosewood Trail on a sunset hike.

Rattler crossing the Rosewood Trail on a sunset hike.

It is rare that rattlesnakes cause serious injury to humans. According to the California Poison Control Center, rattlesnakes account for 800 bites each year, with only one or two deaths. Most bites occur during the months of April through October, when both humans and snakes are active outdoors. About 25% of bites are dry (i.e. no venom), but still require medical treatment.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Wear shoes when out hiking in the trails.

  • Stay ON the trails...don't venture out into the underbrush, where snakes may be hiding.

  • Watch what you touch with your hands too...especially if it's dark and hard to see.

  • Leave them alone. They are fun to watch, but do so from a distance. Don't try to pick them up.

Is it a Rattler or a Gopher Snake?

On the trails of the Conejo Valley I've come across rattlesnakes, gopher snakes, king snakes, garter snakes and perhaps a few others I wasn't able to identify. The rattlesnakes are the ones to be particularly wary of because of their venom, so be aware of the following distinctions:

Rattlesnakes are wider/heavier than most of the other local snakes and have a triangular-shaped head, broader at the back than at the front, with a distinct "neck." They have openings between the nostrils and the eyes. There are a series of dark and light bands near the tail which look different from the markings on the rest of the body.  DO NOTE that rattles may not always be present as they may have fallen off are are not always developed on a young rattler.

For some great information on identifying California snakes, visit www.californiaherps.com/identification/snakesid/common.html.

Notice the stocky size of this rattlesnake, the clear rattle, and the different series of dark and lights bands leading down towards the rattle.

Notice the stocky size of this rattlesnake, the clear rattle, and the different series of dark and lights bands leading down towards the rattle.

Beautiful King Snake (known for lunching on rattlesnakes).

Beautiful King Snake (known for lunching on rattlesnakes).

Gopher snake crossing the trail in   Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa  .

Gopher snake crossing the trail in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa.

Gopher snake on the   Vista Del Mar Trail   in Newbury Park.

Gopher snake on the Vista Del Mar Trail in Newbury Park.

Over 140 Summer Camps and Programs In and Around Ventura County

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Looking for a summer camp within range of Ventura County? Here's a list of over 140 summer day camps and residential camps and programs in the area. Actually, there are hundreds and hundreds of individual camps available.

We've attempted to categorize the camps into three main groups; Traditional/Learning, Sports and Music/Arts, though many camps cover numerous fun activities all in one.

Know of more? Submit them here!

No doubt there will be some typos/errors on this list, so let us know if you find one.

Traditional Day Camps, Overnight Camps, Educational Camps and Other Camps

Sports Camps

Music/Arts/Science Camps

Wedding Reception Venues In Ventura County and Surrounding Areas

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Conejo Valley Guide focuses primarily on events, activities and things to do in the Conejo Valley, Ventura County and surrounding areas.

Since we're out and about so much, we thought it might be helpful to have a comprehensive list of over 170 local wedding, wedding reception and meeting venues.

(Contact us for additions/edits to this list.)

Simi Valley Wedding Reception Venues

Moorpark, Somis Wedding Reception Venues

Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru Wedding Reception Venues

Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Goleta

Emergency Response Systems in Ventura County and Surrounding Areas

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VC Alert is a free service provided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services and participating cities. It launched in January 2012.

All 10 cities in Ventura County utilize the VC Alert system - Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, Thousand Oaks, Ventura and Simi Valley as well as unincorporated areas of Ventura County.

The VC Alert database includes all listed and unlisted landline telephone numbers serviced by AT&T and Verizon.  If you would like to ensure that you will be contacted on your home phone, cellular phone, work phone, TTY device, email, fax or text messaging, you must register that information using the opt in VC Alert portal. All information you provide will be kept strictly confidential.

VC Alert alerts residents about emergencies and other important community news.  The system enables officials to provide essential information quickly when there is a threat to the health or safety of Ventura County residents. To learn more and to register online, visit www.vcalert.org or call 805.648.9283.

The City of Westlake Village uses Blackboard Connect for telephone emergency response recordings for hazards, warnings, evacuations, updates, etc. Land lines are already in the database but you may register additional lines. westlakevillage.bbcportal.com. More info at www.wlv.org/191/Emergency-Notifications.

The City of Agoura Hills also uses Blackboard Connect for emergency response services at cityofagourahills.bbcportal.com/Entry. More info at www.ci.agoura-hills.ca.us/i-want-to/sign-up/connect-cty. There’s also a call-in emergency information line available at 818.597.7301.

City of Calabasas residents are also encouraged to sign up for emergency updates through its Blackboard Connect system at calabasase911.bbcportal.com/Entry. There’s also a call-in emergency info line available at 818.224.1600.

The City of Malibu’s call-in emergency hotline is 310.456.9982. The city's radio station is WPTD AM 1620. The City of Malibu has its own emergency alerts system at member.everbridge.net/index/453003085613099

Los Angeles County residents in Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Malibu, etc. can sign up for Alert LA County. a free mass notification system for Los Angeles County residents at www.lacounty.gov/emergency/alert-la.

Ready Ventura County is a local emergency response planning and information reporting site that is used extensively during local emergencies. www.readyventuracounty.org

Ventura County emergency alert radio stations: KVTA 1590 AM, KHAY 100.7 FM, KMLA 103.7 FM (SPANISH)

Birthday Party Places In and Around Ventura County

Trying to figure out what to do for your kids' birthday parties in and around Ventura County? We've got you covered with this compilation of over 150 birthday party options in and around Ventura County, spanning from Ventura to Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, Simi Valley, Westlake Village, Newbury Park and surrounding areas. We have categorized venue by "type" as best we can.  Contact us if you have something to add!

Volunteer Opportunities in Ventura County

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Looking for a job? Why not help yourself by filling in the gaps in your resume with new experiences while helping others! Or if you are just looking to give back to the local community, there are hundreds of opportunities to volunteer throughout Ventura County. Here's where to find volunteer opportunities:

The United Way of Ventura County hosts www.VolunteerVenturaCounty.org, which lists numerous upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Since 1998, VolunteerMatch.org has helped volunteers find over 4 million volunteer matches at over 60,000 non-profits across the country. You type in your zip code and in my case today it identified over 200 volunteer opportunities within a 20 mile radius of Newbury Park.

Or visit the Local Charities section of Conejo Valley Guide and you'll find over 100 Ventura County area non-profit organizations, most of which could use your help. I clicked a few and found plenty of volunteer needs publicized on each entity's website, like MANNA Food Bank, L.I.F.E. Animal Rescue in Agoura, Hospice of the Conejo, Friends of the Thousand Oaks Library, and CareGivers - Volunteers Assisting the Elderly.

You could also join one of over 80 service organizations in the Service Clubs section of CVG. The Rotary, Kiwanis, Optimist, Assistance League, Lions Club and other organizations provide needed services to others in need. 

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary seeks volunteers ages 17 and up to join its local Channel Islands flotilla. Bring the USCG AUX your skills or join to develop your leadership skills through numerous free classes and workshops offered. The USCG AUX was established by Congress in 1939 to assist the Coast Guard in promoting boating safety. Volunteers assist the Coast Guard in non-law enforcement programs such as safety patrols, search and rescue, maritime security, vessel safety checks, public safe boating classes and watchstanding. Visit www.d11s.org for more information.

Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County seeks volunteers for its ReStores, with shifts available Tuesday through Saturday. Visit www.habitatventura.org/habitat-restore-merchandising to learn more and sign up.

Volunteer opportunities in Thousand Oaks: toaks.org/departments/human-resources/volunteer

Volunteer opportunities in Simi Valley: www.simivalley.org/index.aspx?page=355

Volunteer opportunities in Ventura: www.cityofventura.net/volunteeropportunities

Volunteer opportunities in Camarillo: www.cityofcamarillo.org/departments/city_clerk/volunteer_citizen_appointment.php

Volunteer opportunities in Moorpark: moorparkca.gov/389/Volunteering-in-Moorpark

Volunteering in the City of Westlake Village: www.wlv.org/index.aspx?nid=320

City of Agoura Hills Volunteers on Patrol: www.ci.agoura-hills.ca.us/department/police-and-fire/volunteers-on-patrol-vop

Volunteer opportunities in Calabasas: www.cityofcalabasas.com/volunteer.html

Volunteering for the County of Ventura: www.ventura.org/employment/volunteering-for-the-county-of-ventura

How about the National Park Service? Check the local Santa Monica Mountains volunteer opportunities and Channel Islands National Park volunteer opps.

Also check out the volunteer opportunities with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

There are shelters and meal providers throughout Ventura County that could use your help too.

The Annual Appearance of Ground Bees at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park

Every spring that I can remember, I’ve stopped in my tracks at some point by the annual appearance of ground bees in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa.

Hundreds and hundreds of bees, burrowing about in holes in the ground, these are male ground bees - looking for females to mate with and foraging for nectar. But the good news is that these male bees have no stingers. The females can sting, but will not generally do so unless provoked.

Most importantly, these bees are pollinators, which is a good thing. So just…let them BEE if you come across them.

I’ve personally seen these ground bees on the Lower Satwiwa Loop Trail, near the junction of the Satwiwa Loop Trail, on the north Satwiwa Loop Trail (the one that connects to the Satwiwa Native American Center) and on the Wendy-Satwiwa Connector Trail. See map at THIS LINK.