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Snake Bite First Aid- Treat a Snake Bite - Prevention

Updated on January 11, 2010
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003

Snake Bites

At least 6,000 people a year get bitten by a snake in the United States, which is why it's very important that you know how to properly treat a snake bite in case you or someone you're with gets bitten by a snake.

Just remember that no matter what type of snake it is, you want to be very calm. You may think that just because you were bitten by a non-venomous snake, you won't suffer any injury, but you can still get an infection from a non-venomous bite.

If you are bitten by a non-venomous snake (100% confirmed), such as a pet snake, and the snake won't release, you can dip it's face in water or use diluted listerine to spray at the snake (in this case, you'll need to keep the spray near the cage). The more you struggle, the more the snake will hold on. Also remember, if you have a large pet snake, such as an adult Burmese or even Red Tail Boa, you want to make sure that you have more than yourself available when you get the snake out of it's tan, so that you always have backup. Just be careful of related infections from the non-venomous bite.

Signs of Venomous Snake Bite

Although not everyone will experience the same symptoms, these are the basic signs that you've been bitten by a poisonous snake.

Venomous Snakes

  • Rattlesnake
  • Copperhead
  • Cottonmouth Water Moccasin
  • Coral Snake

  • Bloody wound discharge
  • Blurred vision
  • Burning
  • Convulsions
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fainting
  • Fang marks in the skin
  • Fever
  • Increased thirst
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Rapid pulse
  • Severe localized pain
  • Swelling at the site of the bite
  • Weakness

Treat Venomous Snake Bite

If you think you've been bitten by a poisonous snake, you want to call for help immediately. You do not want to wait any longer than you have to. Never try to run around and catch the snake that bit you; stay calm and relaxed; doctors can usually identify what type of snake it was by the puncture wound.

Will waiting to get medical assistance, you want to wash the bite with warm water and soap (never use cold water), and try to keep the area where the snake bit you immobilized and lower than your heart. Stay as CALM as you can; the faster your heart beats, the faster the venom can travel to it.

Cover the area with a clean, warm compress to minimize swelling, but do not cut off circulation. Remove any jewelry- rings, watch, bracelet, etc.- in case of swelling.

Make sure to keep a close eye on your vital signs.

If you know that it's going to take more than 30 minutes before you can see medical care, you want to apply a bandage about 2-4 inches above the bite. Again, do not cut off blood circulation. You want to be able to put one finger underneath the bandage. You just want to slow the venom down from moving to other parts of the body.

You can use a suction device to help draw out the venom, but do not suck the venom out with your mouth or cut the area.

When you are able to get medical help, the doctor will be use an antivenin to treat a serious bite, especially if you know that it was a poisonous snake that bit you.

Just remember that even if you were bitten by a venomous snake, you may not have been injected with venom. Venomous snakes can give dry bites that are mere warnings. They can also give half bites that are essentially just a half a regular dose injection, or they can give you a full venom bite. You should never assume you got a dry bite; if you have been bitten by a snake you believe to be venomous, seek medical assistance as soon as possible!

Prevent a Snake Bite

No matter how small the snake is, you want to avoid a bite, even if it is a non-venomous snake. You just don't want to get bit by a snake. You can get infections from even a bite from a non-venomous snake. In order to reduce the chances of getting bitten, you want to first and foremost leave all wild snakes alone; most people are bitten when they try to kill a wild snake, just leave it alone.

You want to avoid tall grasses unless you're wearing proper attire, such as tall, leather boots and long pants. Stick to pre-made paths when hiking or when you're out in the woods, or even the public park.

Keep your hands and feet out of areas that you can't see. If you can't see where you're putting your hands or feet, then you don't know what may be there hiding.

Don't pick up rocks or wood unless you know that you're at a safe distance from a snake; snakes can curl up under larger rocks and pieces of wood, so be careful of what you move.

Prevent Pet Snake Bite

Make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly after handling rodents. Snakes can smell the leftover rodent scent on your hands, and may strike.

As mentioned above, if you have a larger pet snake species, you want to make sure that you have backup in case a snake tries to back-talk. It's best to have at least one person per 4-5 feet of snake.

If a non-venomous snake has bitten you, in order to get it to release, you can put the head under running water or even use listerine.


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    • profile image

      Paul J Brown 4 years ago

      My dog was bitten by a rattlesnake a few days ago, she is better except she will throw up water and food. What can I do?

    • mrwaoun profile image

      mrwaoun 6 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      i am not sure you are aware of this but the suction kits are proven to be useless by the wild life management series and cause more damage than help, i do not recommend for anyone to use them

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      You can't really prevent it. To stop it- move faster than the snake.

    • profile image

      Ashley 7 years ago

      My son wants a pet snake i particullary dont like them i spent hours googling snakes and nothing spoke of how to prevent or stop a snake from biting you

    • profile image

      kendal 7 years ago

      this is helping me out my best friend live across the street from me and last night she got bitten by a copper head wedont know if she is oka no not but we live in houston weird right

    • profile image

      NYC to South GA 7 years ago

      My bigeest fear is snake bites and will I live throw it. I want to buy a house in the country but i didn't know anything about snakes until a read this article. This information has release most of my fear, and replaced it with knowlegde. I am now one step closer to being a responsible homer owner. Thank you so much!!! whitney05.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 8 years ago from Tucson, Az

      great article whitney but now I am very keep these crit ters dont you oh nooooo Mr Bill :)

    • GiftedGrandma profile image

      GiftedGrandma 8 years ago from USA

      Bookmarked it as it is great information to know :O)

    • Waren E profile image

      Waren E 8 years ago from HAS LEFT THE BUILDING............

      This hub can come in handy for all that read it!

      Thanks Whitney05!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Good stuff to know here in south GA! Good read.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      This article was so descriptive that I was beginning to take off my rings while reading it, because of what you said about swelling, after a snake bite. Really good hub.