Poisonous Snakes and Spiders?

Humongous non-poisonous spider near our basement © simply-san-juan.com

There are no poisonous snakes on the Island, so you don't have to worry about coming across anything lethal on the hiking trail. There are, however, poisonous spiders -- the brown recluse and black widows, which tend to build webs in undisturbed areas and are naturally shy of people. The best precaution for avoiding contact with one of these spiders is to wear leather gloves when handling firewood, where a spider might have decided to build a web. Use caution in areas you suspect could be home to such a spider, like some the dry, rocky hillsides along the westside of the Island. Chances of an encounter with a poisonous spider are not likely, but it's better to be prepared.

With no danger of encounters with poisonous snakes, you can relax and enjoy yourself. That said, it's a good idea to be aware of the some less-obvious dangers, though the word "danger" is perhaps a bit too strong. Just be aware that San Juan Island has a large population of black-tail deer, red foxes, and raccoons, and while they aren't inherently aggressive or dangerous, there are aspects of living in close proximity to them that warrant caution. For instance, black-tail deer will jump right in front of your car as you are happily driving along an idyllic Island road, just enjoying the scenery.

It is a puzzle because you can drive right next to 100 deer, grazing on the roadside grass while they appear completely oblivious of your passing vehicle. They can just as easily bound in front of your car, so its best to give them a wide berth.

I also mention red foxes and raccoons, which are a bit more shy than black-tail deer, and so aren't quite as visible. They seem to be smarter around cars than deer because I've seen them run in the opposite direction from an approaching car. Even so, it's best to be cautious along the roads and ready for whatever comes your way.

Raccoons are shyer yet. They are seen far less often, and mostly after nightfall. They sort of ramble slowly along, and will run right up the nearest tree if startled.

My advice is to be careful while driving and watch out for the other guy, especially if they walk on four legs.

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