Snake Bites

Preventing snake bites is as easy as staying away from snakes that you find. Be wary of your surroundings if you are hiking or camping, and don't keep food like eggs out in the open that may attract snakes. If you are swimming in natural bodies of water, there are most likely snakes nearby that can cause you injury. Do not antagonize or attempt to trap wild snakes in the wilderness or in your yard. Most snakes want to be left alone and will happily pass you by unless you threaten them.s

Image of snake
Snake slithering

Identifying a Snake Bite

It is not unheard of to not recognize a snake bite immediately. Hikers and outdoor lovers may be bitten in the water or on the trail and think this is a mosquito bite or the bit of an insect. You can identify a snake bite by the common parallel incisions from a snake's fangs. It may cause intense pain or not feel like anything at all, depending upon where you are bitten. Always seek immediate medical attention if you exhibit any of the following symptoms.

  • Redness and swelling around the bite
  • Severe pain around the bite
  • Pus or other discharge around the bite
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Heavy, labored, or stopped breathing
  • Hallucinations or blurred vision
  • Salivation or sweating in excess
  • Numbness in the face and extremities

How to Save a Life from a Snake Bite

Do your best to remember the color and shape of the snake, or snap a photo if possible. Doctors and herpatologists can identify the snake more easily this way and select the appropriate antivenom. Keep the bitten individual as calm as possible to slow down the heart rate. As heart rate increases, the venom will be spread throughout the body more quickly. Dial 911 or bring the individual to a medical care facility yourself if this is faster and more easily possible. Cover the bite immediately with a clean dressing during transit.

What You Should NOT Do for Snake Bites

  • Use alcohol on the bite or orally for a pain killer
  • Apply a tourniquet near the bite
  • Try to cut out the venom with a blade
  • Attempt to suck out the venom with your mouth
  • Use water or ice on the wound
  • Imbibe caffeinated substances
  • Try to trap the snake

Further Reading