What to do when a snake bites you on a remote trail?

A few years ago I was hiking in Sequoia National Park with my family. Right when we started our hike we saw 2 snakes which made me extra alert to the fact that they were around. I was walking in front with my wife and parents behind me on a single track trail. The trail made a pretty steep left turn against a rock wall that was head high and out of no-where from the left a rattlesnake striked at me from about 2 feet away.


Photo by Jimmy Dean Freeman

I FREAKED OUT and within a split second I jumped to the right, the snake moved quickly from the rock onto the trail. I thought he was going after me, so I got up and fell again, this time almost down the steep side of the trail. Luckily I came out with no injuries but it definitely scared me.

In the past few years of hiking and running trails, I’ve encountered about 10 snakes, including a few poisonous rattlesnakes. I run a lot of trails solo in the middle of nowhere, so I wanted to figure out exactly what to do if a snake bites me on a remote trail?


Photos by me, Floris Gierman

Below is a summary of things I’ve learned about first aid for snake bites after talking to the Snake Bite Poison Line (1-800-222-1222 available 24/7), after doing my own online research and after posting my snake questions on Reddit Running. The best info came from Jordan Benjamin, a herpetologist specialized in venomous snakes. I’m just sharing this info because it might help you one day:

• No first aid is much better than performing bad first aid. Don’t cut at or around the site of the bite, don’t compress the bitten limb with a cord or tight bandage, don’t attempting to extract or neutralize venom using electricity, fire, permanganate, salt, black stones, mouths, mud, leaves, etc.

• All Snake Bite Kits are dangerous and should not be used. This was also confirmed by the Snake Bite Poison Line.

• A lot of snake bite patients injure themselves by panicking directly after a snake bite, by tripping over a rock or tree trunk, or by falling off the side of the trail. Staying calm is important! After a snake bite, walk about 20-30 feet away from the snake.

• Find a safe place to sit down asap. The venom can rapidly diffuse into your system, this can drop your blood pressure too low to pump all the way to your head while standing. Sitting down reduces your chance of fainting within the first few minutes. If you faint, it shouldn’t be more than a few minutes.

• Remove any rings, watches, tight clothing and anything else from the bitten limb, because the swelling will make it a lot bigger soon.

• Take 5 minutes to calm down and plan your evacuation. The only effective treatment for a snake envenomation is the right anti-venom to neutralize it.

• Do not wait for symptoms to appear if bitten. It’s important to get in touch with emergency personnel as soon as possible to get you to a hospital. If you have a cell phone and service, great, call 911 or the Park Ranger. If there is no service, think about the last time you had phone service.

• A sharpie can be a great help for emergency personnel to assess the severity of your snakebite. Circle the location of your snake bite and write down the time next to it. Draw a circle around the border of the swelling and write down the time. Write down all the things you’re experiencing that are not normal, with the time next to it. Examples are: metallic taste in your mouth, changes to sense of smell, sudden loss of vision, double vision, visual disturbances, ringing in the ears, headache, nausea and vomiting, bleeding from anywhere, dizziness, shortness of breath, etc. The most common signs and symptoms are pain and swelling.

• Update this info every 15 or 30 minutes as the swelling moves up the limb and your symptoms develop.

• Make contact via cell phone. If this is not possible, walk slowly to get help. Drink some water and take some calories if you have any. Some snake bite victims walk several miles after serious snake bites to their legs. They make it out fine because they made it out to medical care. This is much better than waiting for help if you can’t reach anyone. Don’t let the fear of “raising your heart rate and increasing the speed of venom circulation” prevent you from moving to get to care. Be very cautious about driving yourself to a hospital, since some bites have serious side effects that could suddenly limit your ability to drive.


Photo by Eric Compton

Preventing a snake bite is obviously better than dealing with a snake bite. Here are a few ways to reduce the risks of snake bites while trail running:

• Be aware that there could be snakes where you’re running.

• Watch where you’re placing your feet, be extra aware on rocky, sunny areas, pockets of leaves and logs across the trail. If you’re off trail, the odds go up because there are more rocks and cracks and less people to scare the snakes away. Watch out when running through tall grass and weeds.

• Step on a rock or log, not over it. This way you can spot a snake that may be sheltering under it and take action quickly.

• Watch out when sitting down on a rock or tree stump, you might be sitting on a snake.

• Don’t try to chase the snake off the trail, this is why most people get bit by snakes.

• Don’t run with headphones on trails, or have at least 1 earbud out.

• Snakes tend to be near water, especially if it’s in a dry environment. If you’re near a spring or river, keep an extra eye out.

• Since snakes are cold-blooded, they’d like to come out when it’s warm and sun themselves on rocky areas or trails. They like to be on the edge of a sunny patch. If you come across a sunny patch, your encounter chances increase.

• Most venomous snakes in the US rest during the day. The chances of running into one are higher in the mornings and early evenings, when their activity might be a bit higher.

• In the spring, after snakes have hibernated together, the frequency of sightings goes up. In the fall, when they retreat to a hiding place to spend the cold winter months, they are on the go, so higher chances to encounter a snake. Most snake bites occur between April and October.


Photo by Chris Gilbertson

Things to bring on your trail runs that help with a snake bite:
• Phone
• Sharpie

Getting bitten by a snake can be deadly, especially if you’re on your own on a remote trail. The following story is a good explanation of how a snake bite would feel: I Should Be Dead. Each year, about 8,000 venomous snake bites occur in the US and about 5 of those people die. You’ve got a good chance of survival if you seek medical attention immediately.

To summarize: try to stay calm, sit down, remove anything tight, document your situation, contact help

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145 Comments

  1. Kelly July 24, 2014

    Is there any sock brand you could wear for trail running? That maybe won’t allow the strike to sink in?
    My biggest fear
    Kelly

    Reply
    • Flo July 25, 2014

      There are some companies out there that make light weight Snake Gaiters that have been tested with live Rattle Snakes, for example http://www.turtleskin.com/Snake-Gaiters.aspx This might reduce the risk of a snake bite in your lower leg during hiking or hunting, however it doesn’t seem comfortable to run in.

      Reply
  2. […] What to do when a snake bites you on a remote trail.  I’ve mentioned it before, but this is real…My long-time xc coach lost his arm to a rattler that bit him when he was running on a…wait for it…remote trail. […]

    Reply
  3. BH July 24, 2014

    Another tip: When running on sun-dappled trails don’t wear sunglasses. The coloration of Pacific rattle snakes (and maybe others) let them blend in perfectly. Running without sunglasses gives you a better chance of spotting one before stepping on it. Also I second the suggestion of keeping the headphones off: The poor animals don’t _want_ to be near you and have a built in alarm to let you know to stay away. Keeping your hearing unobstructed lets the system work!

    Reply
    • Flo July 25, 2014

      Good call BH! Yes the snakes would only bite to defend themselves when they feel threatened, so taking off your sunglasses can help spot them better on sun-dappled trails.

      Reply
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    Reply
  5. Beverly Escobar July 24, 2014

    Do you have any advice regarding a snake bite to a dog while out running/hiking? I have been told to carry Benadryl to give to your dog if bitten. Would this also apply to a human? Thank you for the information.

    Reply
    • Flo July 25, 2014

      Hi Beverly, a lot of the same principles apply when a snake bites your dog. Staying calm and getting your dog to a vet immediately will increase chances of survival. No first aid is much better than performing bad first aid, don’t try to suck out the venom. If your dog is bitten around the neck, take off his collar. If you can, carry your dog to the car. If that’s not possible, walk, don’t run.

      I also read on some sites to carry Benadryl for snake bites on a dog, but I honestly don’t know enough about it, to say its a good idea or not. To find out, I recommend you call a vet and ask them.

      Jordan Benjamin, the snakebite specialist wrote this about snake bites to humans: “DO NOT TAKE ASPIRIN, ADVIL, OR OTHER NSAIDS AFTER A SNAKEBITE. All of those medicines thin your blood, and they can cause very nasty problems for snakebite patients. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is okay, take up to 2x 500mg tablets if you feel the need as it won’t interact with the snakebite in any way but don’t forget to tell the medics everything you have taken when they get there to avoid being double-dosed.”

      Based on this info, I wouldn’t take Benadryl. Hope this helps.

      Reply
      • Melissa July 26, 2014

        Benadryl is unlikely to help unless you or your dog are allergic to snake venom. Not a bad idea to have benadryl though because you can develop allergies at any time. Time = tissue for you and your dog, so get to a hospital/vet, don’t stop for benadryl or any other first aid.

        Luckily dogs are naturally more resistant to venom than we are so they typically do better, especially considering how much smaller they are.


        Melissa Amarello
        Co-Founder, Director of Education
        Advocates for Snake Preservation (ASP)
        http://snakepreservation.org

        We change the way people view and treat snakes

        Reply
        • Chris Craft June 3, 2015

          My small dog got bit once by a copperhead snake when I was about 12. I carried the dog about a mile to my home and my parents wouldn’t take him to a vet. He was bitten twice on his head. In fact, my brother got a gun and wanted to shoot him. I kept him in the shade and helped him drink water because his head swelled so big he couldn’t hold it up. After lots of tears and never leaving his side for fear my brother would shoot him, the swelling went down and he was back to normal within a day or two. Dogs are amazing!

          Reply
          • Gilda June 5, 2015

            Horrible Brother!


          • Dan Crocker June 7, 2015

            Parents weren’t much use either.


      • Susan Hall, DVM August 3, 2014

        Benadryl is not an NSAID but an antihistamine. Most vets give it before giving antivenom to block an allergic reaction to it. If you have it handy it won’t hurt just make sure to mention to your vet you have already given it. It is by no means a replacement for quick veterinary care. As previously stated about human care, getting medical attention quickly is most important

        Reply
      • Diana Reed Vet Tech May 22, 2016

        Benadryl is exactly what I use when my dogs get bit by snakes. The dosage is 1 mg/#. (Adult Benadryl is 25 mg tablets and childrens Benadryl is 5mg/ml (tsp). My dogs weigh about 90# and I give them four adult Benadryl and then take them to my Vet. He will then give them an antibiotic (snake mouths are nasty) and a steroid shot (dexamethazone). He also usually gives them a shot of diphenhydromine (benadryl), unless I already gave it to them. The reason I give it right away is that the Benadryl will keep the swelling from getting really bad and with breeds like boxers, pekinese and pugs that can be deadly as their airway is already somewhat restricted. So depending on your dogs breed/size keep the appropriate size Benadryl on you.

        Reply
      • Eileen May 23, 2016

        NEVER give Tylenol to a dog!!! It , and compounds like it are pure poison to their liver and will kill them fast!

        Reply
      • Vicki May 31, 2016

        Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is poisonous to dogs and cats and should not be given under any circumstances. So, in response to this, it goes back to no care is better then bad care.

        Reply
    • Kelly Vaughn July 16, 2015

      Nice article, but if you are far off from where you started and you have no cell service you are in deep trouble. A hour into a hike and you are bit on a trail with no reception, there is no calming down etc. The kit might be your best friend in this case. There is a Vaccine for Dogs and Horses, it’s been around before this article was written, so that can help those animals, unfortunately for us humans, the list given is your best option.

      Reply
      • Mike May 18, 2016

        Why is there no “calming down,” if you’re “A hour into a hike and you are bit on a trail”? People come out of emergent situations in the wilderness successfully more often than not. It doesn’t matter what you do if you don’t take a moment as needed to calm down, access your situation, and plan your next action. For many of us “…an hour into a hike” with no cell service is not “remote,” it’s a normal Saturday. Remote is when you’re 2 days into the backcountry and have no way to signal or get to help without serious exertion for hours or day +.

        Also there is a rattlesnake vaccine for animals. But that doesn’t cover most of the poisonous snakes you can encounter

        Reply
      • Walter May 19, 2016

        No, Kelly. If you’re in a remote area and can’t get to medical care for hours, or even days, that bite kit is still the wrong answer. Generally a healthy adult will survive a venomous snake bite (from any North American snake) without medical care. They will be very, very sick, may lose a lot of tissue, and will generally wish to die, but the medical care is more about reducing the impact of these symptoms than it is saving a life. Back to the original quote about bad first aid being worse than no first aid – there is no scenario where that kit is your friend.

        Reply
        • Erin May 22, 2016

          Around here search and rescue teams recommend carrying an emergency locator beacon that relays your location via satellite to local Rescue teams. They cost about $100. A lot of rough terrain and cell service can be spotty.

          Reply
          • Don May 22, 2016

            Some outstanding advice!


        • Jaybo1 June 6, 2016

          You’d better get help if you’re bitten by a coral snake or you WILL die….

          Reply
          • Yaakov Mark June 21, 2016

            Coral snakes don’t normally strike. They usually have to gnaw. So its alot harder to get bit by a coral snake than it is a rattlesnake.


    • Lisa May 20, 2016

      My vet gives me a shot of dexamethasone to use in case of snake bite — a steroid to keep the swelling down until we can get to medical help.

      Reply
    • Andrea Hachtel May 20, 2016

      My vet said, first thing to do is give Benedryl (I carry liquid Benedryl & an oral syringe so, I can just squirt medicine in their mouth & not have to try to get them to take a pill).
      Before I new that tip, my dog was bitten on the lip. His neck swelled up (looked like a fluid-filled pouch was hanging under his chin). Vet started antibiotics , the fluid in his neck was eventually reabsorbed into his body –took about 2 weeks for the fluid-filled area to disappear!!

      Reply
    • Lane Mortensen May 25, 2016

      Best way to help your dog from a snake bite us to help keep them from being but in the first place. Dogs are naturally more alert than we are and spit a snake ahead of time, but they don’t know to avoid them unless they have been trained to do so.

      Most bird hunting clubs in the country offer “rattlesnake training for dog” classes that will help keep your dog safe. They can train any breed of dog. I highly recommend it, if you plan to be out in snake country with your furry friend. A class like this kept my buddy from being bit last summer and alerted me to the fact that a snake was in the trail before I even saw it. The classes work!

      Reply
  6. Linda Manzer July 25, 2014

    I have also heard it’s a good idea to take a photo of the snake if possible so emergency medical personnel can positively identify the species (important for selecting the appropriate antivenin).

    Reply
    • Flo July 25, 2014

      Hi Linda, I’ve heard that as well. The only thing is that 80-95% of snake bites occur when people get too close to a snake, or they try to mess with a snake. You or your friend might get another bite while trying to take a photo, so unless its from a safe distance or you can zoom in, it could be dangerous. Remembering what the snake looked like can also be helpful. Thanks for your input!

      Reply
    • Melissa July 26, 2014

      In the United States the same anti-venom is used for all snakebites, so don’t bother with the photograph and definitely do not try to kill the snake to bring it with you. As Flo said, you are putting yourself in danger by getting close to the snake.


      Melissa Amarello
      Co-Founder, Director of Education
      Advocates for Snake Preservation (ASP)
      http://snakepreservation.org

      We change the way people view and treat snakes

      Reply
      • Flo July 26, 2014

        Hi Melissa,

        Thanks for jumping in here and for confirming that in the United States the same anti-venom is used for all snakebites. I thought this was the case but wasn’t sure so didn’t write it. All the best with your organization!

        Cheers,
        Flo

        Reply
      • Tlacatecatl Tlacaxipe August 19, 2014

        Not exactly. CroFab is used for all rattlesnake, cottonmouth, and copperhead bites. Coral snake bites require a different antivenom.

        Reply
      • Jennifer August 20, 2014

        Not necessarily. A family dog died here in New Mexico last month because we didn’t have the anti venom for the Mojave rattle snake.

        Reply
        • Jennifer August 20, 2014

          http://www.kob.com/article/stories/s3499023.shtml#.U_QdeNq9KSM

          Reply
        • Tamara May 22, 2016

          Mojave rattlesnake is a type A venom look them up as I about one a year here. They are mean and will bite anytime they fill like it I had them go after dogs here in my yard. I been around rattlesnakes most my life and most time if you here the rattle and stop and then back up very slowly they will take off. The Mojave will.not. Be safe read about the snakes in the area you are going into. I am in the high desert 5800 and some say there’s Mojave rattlesnake in this area but I have seen them and have friends who have here. Again read up on them as they are a dirty green here but last report I read says other colors also. If you don’t know what kind of snake it is keep away. Mojave do not rattle all the time.

          Reply
      • Emmet June 4, 2015

        I remember years ago some EMTs from the local volunteer fire department had brought in a snakebite, and had killed the snake, put it in a pillowcase, and brought it in too,..only they hadn’t actually killed it. A live rattlesnake on the nurse’s station can clear an ER faster than pepper spray.

        Reply
  7. banchara July 25, 2014

    Also, baby rattle snakes are much more dangerous than adults. The babies will release their full venom load whereas an adult snake will usually just release a portion of the venom if they are not being directly threatened or hassled.

    Reply
    • Flo July 25, 2014

      There is actually a lot of debate about this and I’ll have to agree its questionable that this is true. David Steen, a researcher that specializes in reptiles wrote an interesting article about this here: http://www.livingalongsidewildlife.com/2009/10/are-bites-from-baby-venomous-snakes.html

      Here are a few interesting points from his article:

      “The legend goes that young snakes have not yet learned how to control the amount of venom they inject. They are therefore more dangerous than adult snakes, which will restrict the amount of venom that accompanies a bite. It’s repeated so often that it’s become a sort of mantra among laypeople and biologists alike. ”

      “It seems like a simple enough suggestion, but to examine this topic requires some examination of the assumptions implicit within the framing of the question as well as delving into some hot topics in biology. There are four main assumptions when the question is framed in this manner: 1) snakes are able to control the amount of venom they inject, 2) there is some disadvantage to a snake when it injects all of its venom in every bite (otherwise why not inject all of their venom all of the time?), 3) as a result, a snake will learn of these disadvantages and change its behavior as it matures, and finally, 4) a full envenomation from a young snake is more dangerous than a partial envenomation from an adult snake. ”

      “…although it’s possible that this legend is true and baby snakes are more dangerous than adults because they haven’t learned to control the amount of venom they inject when they bite, it’s safe to say this is unlikely to be the case. Due to the complexities of the original question, I doubt this statement will ever be tackled in a manner that sufficiently addresses all of its assumptions. ”

      The best thing to do is to avoid all snake bites, regardless of their age.

      Reply
      • Kara July 30, 2014

        Thank you Flo!
        Another question of mine answered!

        Was wondering … Do baby rattlesnakes not have a rattle? That’s something else I’ve heard. I grew up being told that the snake will warn with the rattle sound, but I only heard recently that there might not be a rattle.

        Reply
        • Jeff Sullivan June 9, 2015

          It is true that baby rattlesnakes do not have enough segments in their tail to make a rattling noise. They will shake their tail, and some species like gopher snakes do that and the noise in dry grass or leaves may sound enough like a rattle to make you pause and carefully consider their species, but a rattlesnake this small is unlikely to cause any noise loud enough for a person to hear: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/18456031609/

          Reply
      • Cindy Weintritt May 20, 2016

        Great info Flo. Was wondering; have recently heard that what creates the rattles on a rattlesnake is a recessive gene and that they are actually starting to disappear on rattlesnakes. Have you heard anything about this?

        Thank you
        Cindy W.

        Reply
        • Tish June 9, 2016

          Rattlers are born with a pre-button. As they snake grows, shedding takes place and with that shedding process, the rattler will gain a new button. Each time the snake sheds, a new button is added to the rattle.

          Reply
    • Tlacatecatl Tlacaxipe August 19, 2014

      Even if a juvenile injects all of its venom, it can’t inject nearly the amount that an adult can. A “mild” bite by an adult might still have twice the volume of a full bite by a juvenile.

      Reply
  8. Melissa July 26, 2014

    Thanks for this excellent article. As an environmental educator that gives snake presentations in Arizona, I get this question a ton. The only correction I would make is to this:
    “Since snakes are cold-blooded, they’d like to come out when it’s warm and sun themselves on rocky areas or trails. They like to be on the edge of a sunny patch. If you come across a sunny patch, your encounter chances increase.”

    If it is warm snakes are LESS likely to be in the sun and MORE likely to in cover, especially vegetation. If it is cool, then they may be in or near the sun, but really snakes do little basking in the sun – they prefer to be hidden*. Exercise the most care when trails are narrow and you are forced to walk/run near rocks or vegetation.

    *My comments are based on observing rattlesnakes in the wild for more than a decade, including with radio telemetry.


    Melissa Amarello
    Co-Founder, Director of Education
    Advocates for Snake Preservation (ASP)
    http://snakepreservation.org

    We change the way people view and treat snakes

    Reply
    • floris April 22, 2015

      Hi Melisa,

      Great to hear from you. You must have seen a lot of rattlesnakes in the wild. I appreciate your feedback and correction. It makes total sense that snakes don’t like to be in the sun on a hot day, unless its in the morning or when its cool outside. I forgot to include this last part in the sentence you mentioned. I appreciate your help!

      I like your website, great snake time lapse video!

      Cheers,

      Flo

      Reply
  9. Brooke August 3, 2014

    Also be aware that not all snakes give a warning. There seem to be a lot if comments about rattlesnakes, but realize that a cottonmouth is also very venomous and silent. I was close to stepping on one while out mountain biking – was off bike pushing through a bog – when I saw a gaping pinkish mouth 6in from my foot. I was suffering from dehydration and exhaustion and I just wasn’t focused and alert. I am blessed that nothing happened. My husband has now bought walkie-talkies as there was no cell service that far out. Also – if you spend a lot of time outdoors running it biking, take a Wilderness First-Aid class. It’s first aid for when help is over an hour away. Very useful!

    Reply
  10. Jim Beaver August 19, 2014

    Great article. It’s nice to see actual science based information instead of superstition and hysteria. Thank you for an excellent article. I would only add that snakes should always be respected, never feared. They have an important place in the environment.

    Reply
  11. […] The above is a summary of things learned by Flo and after talking to the Snake Bite Poison Line (1-800-222-1222 available 24/7), after doing his own online research and after posting my snake questions on Reddit Running. The best info came from Jordan Benjamin, a herpetologist specialized in venomous snakes. We are sharing this information because it might help you one day:  You can read the story in it’s entirety here http://www.flotography.com […]

    Reply
  12. Carol P. October 27, 2014

    I understand it is antivenin, not antivenom. Is there anything to do for pets that may get bitten?

    Reply
  13. David Shirley April 1, 2015

    Your post has a lot of great and valuable information. However, snakes, especially the ones mentioned in your article, are NOT poisonous, they’re VENOMOUS.

    Reply
  14. […] http://www.flotography.com/what-to-do-when-a-snake-bites-you-on-a-remote-trail/  […]

    Reply
  15. Russ Baxter June 3, 2015

    Great article. Last September, my wife and I were descending from Mt Leconte in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I got ahead of her and decided I would startle her when she caught up. I stepped back on a side trail used at the overlook, it was clear. When my wife came by, I stomped my foot and jumped out. At the same instance, i heard what was probably an Eastern Diamond Back Rattlesnake go off, probably 2 feet from where I had been standing. I thought about what could have happened for the remaining hour and half of the hike…

    Reply
    • toodie May 21, 2016

      You could have startled a snake into striking your wife as she walked by. Did you think of that scenario for the rest of the hike?

      Reply
  16. Dearing Fauntleroy June 3, 2015

    The CORRECT homeopathic remedy can greatly neutralize the symptoms of snake envenomation, if not completely remove them. Learn first aid homeopathy and carry a dozen or so of the appropriate snake bite remedies with you.

    Treking poles are handy for making noise and also for checking out blind spots, bushes, etc. that you can’t avoid on the trail….

    Reply
    • Emmet June 4, 2015

      As the author stated, DO NOT delay, forgo, or further complicate definitive treatment (ANTIVENIN IN AN EMERGENCY ROOM) to administer ineffective folk remedies which are based upon ignorance and superstition.
      ENVENOMED SNAKEBITE IS A TRUE MEDICAL EMERGENCY! TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!
      http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/homeopathy-ineffective-study-concludes

      Reply
    • Newtonian June 4, 2015

      Properly constructed clinical testing has proven, repeatedly, that homeopathic “medications” are no better than placebo. There is positively no homeopathic cure for snakebite and saying so or prescribing such a course of treatment borders on criminal negligence. For a full discussion on this and several other types of modern quackery, read the book Trick Or Treatment by Singh and Ernst.

      Reply
    • g snarks July 19, 2015

      Don’t be an idiot. Homeopathy is to venomous snakebite as Cap’n Crunch is to gunshot to the gut. Get to a hospital!

      Reply
  17. Peg Johnson June 3, 2015

    What about a horse, I like going trail ridding in the mountains here in New Mexico Mexico? WHAT First aid would I use if I am along way from any help and no cell phone service. do I Walk her out ride her out ride?? leave her tied and I walk out for help may take several hours ??

    Reply
    • Cessi June 5, 2015

      If a horse gets bit on the nose, it may result in swelling to the point that the horse cannot breathe. My husband’s horse was saved by a vet that inserted sections of garden hose into the nostrils before the swelling got too pronounced.

      Reply
    • Constance Ferrar May 26, 2016

      I just wanted to comment about cross country horse riding. This is a very long read that is informative but almost time for my bed. I will fed this post to my son that does cross country bicycle riding in the mid west. Anyhow. I am a many generational Florida native and we are lucky enough to have every poisonous snake in the US. I’ve seen many and have been extremely lucky to never get a bite. Most of our pets are cautious and much more aware than we are. Exception is terriers who can’t resist a fight if any kind. Back to horses. We were one a cross country wood land trail riding single file. The first horse in line trotted blithely over what seemed to be a sound asleep diamondback stretched all the way across the trail. 10-12 feet. The rest of us called out and said we’re just gonna wait here for a bit until he wakes up and moves off the trail. He eventually did. The biggest point for this story is that her horse was trained to trot over poles. The snake looked like a pole. It could have ended a whole lot differently if that horse had even come near to stepping on the snake

      Reply
  18. Knneth Dodds June 3, 2015

    take a picture of snake, if possible–ER folks can use this

    Reply
  19. Robyn Lay June 4, 2015

    We do a lot of horseback riding and end up in some pretty remote back country in the Great Smokey Mountains and other areas near by. Is there anything at all we can do for our horses should they get bitten? Sometimes cell reception is impossible. When we camp we do have a satellite system that supposedly can bring help fairly quickly but it has not been tested and I’m not sure if they would do it for a horse or not. Thanks for all the great information!

    Reply
  20. Lisa Westfall June 4, 2015

    I am also a horseback rider and enjoy trail riding in the mountains and desert of New Mexico. I have encountered rattlesnakes while trail riding and also worry about my horse getting bitten.

    Reply
  21. SherriFL June 4, 2015

    I, too, trail ride on horseback and have encountered snakes on the trail. Several times, the snake blended in with the fall grass & was stretched out across it. Didn’t see it until it was under us. My quick thinking didn’t include stopping my horse, for obvious reasons, as pulling up the reins is a natural response to seeing a snake. And no, horses don’t always respond to seeing a snake by rearing and pawing at it. Staying calm is the key. BTW, it was not a venomous snake. I had 2 novice riders behind me that never saw it. If it had been venomous, I would have yelled for them to stop and back up.
    I have encountered a rattle snake sunning in a patch of sun. The horse & I saw and heard it at the same time. It was a good 10 ft away & I had a young novice rider with me. Of course, we stopped and backed up putting another 10 ft between us & snake. We stood perfectly still, allowing the snake to cross where he was & to leave the trail. I used this time to talk with the teenager, who was terrified, about not panicking and putting a good distance between, remain calm, and wait. The snake knows you are there and wants to get the heck outta Dodge. It only took about 2 mins. Another reason we train our horses to stop frequently on the trails and stand still. I told her she needed to watch more nature educational TV shows instead of Social networking. Just respect snakes as you would a gun. Horses also have a better outcome than humans. I would get off, loosen the cinch, and walk out and trailer the horse to a vet immediately.

    Reply
  22. Paul Bacon June 5, 2015

    I read the advice re not taking aspirin and other NSAIDs because they thin the blood, but what if you’re already using prescription blood thinners? Would they make any snake envenomation harder to deal with?

    Reply
  23. Phillip Woolley June 5, 2015

    Buddy,

    Best I have ever read!

    Reply
  24. Eva June 5, 2015

    Hi. I got bitten by a copperhead about 4 weeks ago. Here’s what I learned. The hospital will watch you to see if you can get through your bite sans antivenin. I was in ER for 8 hrs during which time I got an IV, some morphine (hurts so bad) and some percocets. That’s it. I didn’t blacken, just got very swollen, so they skipped the antivenin. There was bruising from the venom, but it wasn’t huge. I lucked out and didn’t take a big dose, single puncture mark only. Now, at one month, the ankle still hurts some and is pretty swollen by the end of the day. Good things – I can run about two miles now, slowly, as opposed to my usual 4 or5, and shoes don’t hurt. As for dogs… Both dogs have been bitten, no antivenin administered, did fine after a few days.

    Reply
  25. Karen June 7, 2015

    I may have missed this, wouldn’t it also be helpful to write down what type of snake & maybe approx length, in case you do pass out? Aren’t there different types of antivenin depending on the type of snake? In Texas we are blessed/cursed with several different poisonous types of snakes.
    This was a wealth of information, which all makes sense. Would it be possible to offer these do’s & don’t’s on some type of a lament card. One could then review these reminder prior to hiking the trails.

    Reply
  26. Dean Hart June 7, 2015

    I live in Nevada where rattlesnakes are very common. I recently purchased a Sawyer Extraction Pump Kit from REI, and would appreciate any input into the effectiveness of this device. I do appreciate reading this article and the blog comments from everyone. Awareness and education, along with a lot of caution, is definitely worth someone’s life. Thank You.

    Reply
    • Peter May 19, 2016

      I too would like to know if the REI pump will work. There is no cutting or tourniquet involved, just suction.
      It works great for bug bites and bee stings

      Reply
    • Scott H. May 20, 2016

      The Sawyer Extractor you bought at REI was a waste of money. All of the available evidence suggests they worsen local tissue injury when used after a snakebite. In addition to their use in areolar enhancement, they may have a role in removal of botfly larvae. They serve absolutely no purpose otherwise.

      Reply
  27. AlphaRoaming.com June 11, 2015

    Good article. I have thought alot about that subject too! http://alpharoaming.com/2012/09/26/rattlesnake-adrenaline-rush-tie-down-peak-at-henry-coe/

    Reply
  28. Abe June 13, 2015

    My pointer was bitten on the muzzle (9am) and got her to the vet in 1/2 hour, car was near. I was 6′ away and didn’t see the snake, under a bush, didn’t rattle. Fortunately a dog getting bitten on the muzzle does less damage than on a muscle as the venom has more effect on muscle than cartilage. $1000 and some swelling but that evening she was ready for a walk.

    Reply
  29. JP June 14, 2015

    There is a snakebite vaccine for dogs and horses. I highly recommend it if you trail run with your dogs.

    Can buy you a lot of time to get to the vet and make the pain for your pup a lot less if they are bitten. You need an annual booster. (I’m not affiliated with the company at all, just a happy customer)

    http://www.redrockbiologics.com/rattlesnake_vaccine_faq.php

    -JP

    Reply
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  31. David Bert June 30, 2015

    Needless to say I am sharing your article on my Facebook page.

    https://youtu.be/vgnHkh0wcoY

    Reply
  32. […] What to do when a snake bites you on a remote trail […]

    Reply
  33. Kathy Mainzer July 31, 2015

    I’ve been a rockhound for a number of years now, and always careful. Lately I decided I’m pushing my luck, so found a site that tells how to make snake gaiters. A couple of years ago I was bitten by a small black widow that was hidden inside a garden glove. It bit me about 3 times on my left ring finger. The sharp pain was unrelenting and just grew stronger and stronger. A friend (whose dad is a vet) had the presence of mind to suggest putting ice on it. That helped a lot, and keeping it numb was the only way to tolerate it. The pain wasn’t going away so I decided to go to the hospital emergency room. There they took off the ice and I just had to have it back. A red line started up my wrist but stopped. In the meantime the staff sent for antiven. By the time it got there the red line stopped. The staff told me I could have the antiven or not, my choice. They told me that the base is horse serum, which some people are alergic to. Also, they told me that it can make me more sensitive to rattlesnake antiven. I decided to not take it, figuring I might need that rattlesnake stuff one unlucky day. The black widow bite pain lasted almost a month, gradually going away till it just itched. So I’m making snake gaiters. But we have a lot of black widows here in SoCal, so I’m always on the lookout. Just sayin.

    Reply
  34. Mehran August 5, 2015

    Since snake bites are acidic and detarotive. The best advice is a pound of salt and a pound of backing soda. Soak arm or leg or whole body in bucket or tub and meditate until you get well. Or be spiritually ready for a friendly encounter and you won’t be bitten at all. I’ve grabbed a ratle snake from the back and rubbed its belly without being stung. Sadly today I killed on that was smashed up with a shovel. Totally needles. Even if bitten meditation and alkalizing should pull it out. And drink vinegar if becoming too alcaline hurts joints and causes indigestion. Pickled garlic is also the solution to arthritis from being too alkaline raising ph should cure everything else and even help with venomous bites. Even pre alcaline treatment bath would help not be put to death by anfalactic shock from any sting or bite or worse. Slow deterioration from weaponized foods. # 1 killer

    Reply
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  36. KayEhm February 4, 2016

    This is a good article but I have to say that the best way to treat a rattlesnake bite – is to prevent it in the first place! Anyone who’s treading through snake-infested areas should be guarded with quality snake protective gear like the gaiters, chaps, and boots you can find at http://SnakeProtection.com

    Reply
  37. […] again because it could save your arm, leg, or life: What to do if bit by a rattlesnake while on a trail run.  My HS running coach (who I still talk to) has one arm due to a rattler bite in the Mojave desert […]

    Reply
  38. Vern May 17, 2016

    Nice article. I’m a runner here in Thailand, and I’ve come close to stepping directly on a very venomous and deadly Malayan Pit Viper as I ran up a mountain trail near my home. I have the website – ThailandSnakes (.com) as well, so I’m very aware of the danger of venomous snake bite and I just wanted to add some things that might help.

    Many bites are dry. Meaning, there is no venom at all, or, not a significant amount of venom to cause any serious medical issue. With the snake I mentioned above, it has a 40-60% dry bite rate. This is about average with any snake you’re likely to come across. This can help you not panic after a bite.

    Keep in mind too – snake venom takes time to act. There is no such thing as a 2-step snake, where it bites you and you’re dead after 2 steps, 5, 10, or 100. Snake venom typically takes hours to cause such catastrophic damage to the point where it becomes life-threatening. This too should help you calm down.

    The real danger with snake bite envenomation is going into shock and a very significant medical emergency. If your body is allergic to the venom to such a degree that it starts putting you in anaphylactic shock – well, that’s a dire situation indeed. Epipens (R) can be a life saver, and should probably be in your running bag, waistpak, or whatever you have.

    After a snakebite in which venom has been injected, ANY contraction of the muscle, or movement of the limb or area, can spread the venom throughout the system. That’s bad. If you CAN wait for help after being bitten by a rattle snake or other snake with necrotic (cytotoxic) venom, it is better to wait. In some cases, like the one where I was almost bitten on the trail, there is no help coming and you’d have to slowly make your way to help. Walk very slowly, and if possible – have a stick or two to hold in your hands to use as ski poles to take the pressure off your bitten limb. Try hard not to put any pressure on the limb with the bite.

    Do not take any medication of ANY sort after a snakebite. Don’t eat anything. Water to drink is OK.

    If a child is bitten by a rattlesnake or other very dangerous snake, the venom can act faster, so getting help is a real priority and you probably shouldn’t wait for any more than 10 minutes for help before getting the child to the hospital quickly yourself.

    I hope that adds to the conversation. I agreed with nearly everything that was said above. Great article!

    Cheers,

    Vern Lovic
    Thailand Snakes

    Reply
  39. Carol May 18, 2016

    In my younger years I used to ride a bike 20 miles every day. In the spring when it starts to warm up the buzzards would harass bigger rattlesnakes so they were quite upset. They would also snatch the baby rattles and fly overhead. I’ve seen them drop a few and prayed they wouldn’t drop one on me. You have to be very aware of your surroundings.

    Reply
  40. David Sadler May 18, 2016

    As a former herpetologist I would like to add it is a must to identify the snake if you can safely take a pic of it do so. This is essential to emergency doctors so they will know which antivenin to dispatch. It is spelled that way. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/antivenin

    Reply
  41. Lydia May 19, 2016

    I have a hard time finding the article’s author as a trustworthy source of information, because he doesn’t use the word “poisonous” correctly. Snakes are venomous, not poisonous.

    Reply
  42. Katie Auer May 19, 2016

    There is this great little product that no one has mentioned but may be of interest to those who love to enjoy getting out and away from it all (including cell phone service). It’s called the Spot Finder (www.findmespot.com). Nifty satellite device that includes a 9-1-1 button that will contact the nearest 9-1-1 call center and give them your lat/long coordinates and a rescue can ensue. There are many different devices and services (including insurance that will pay for the rescue services). Just check out the website. As an EM physician and an avid mountain biker I won’t go anywhere without mine. And before you ask, no I don’t work for the company, just a loyal customer who has seen the device save lives.
    Yours,
    Katie
    p.s. great article and advice!

    Reply
  43. Z May 20, 2016

    Can you please provide some explanation as to why snake bite kits are dangerous?

    Reply
    • Jeff May 20, 2016

      Never use the scalpel in the snake kits, Dr. Weichenthal and others say, as it could damage the skin further. Some physicians say the constriction band may help, but make sure it is loose enough to slip in a finger. Cutting off circulation could damage a limb.

      The suction devices are still under debate. One of the most popular devices, the Sawyer Extractor, sold by Sawyer Products Inc. of Safety Harbor, Fla., consists of a syringe-shaped chamber with a plunger that creates a vacuum. The company suggests leaving it on 10 to 15 minutes to extract the venom.

      However, a study in pigs and one using radioactively labeled simulated venom injected into the thighs of eight human volunteers found the Sawyer Extractor ineffective. “It removes just a minute quantity of venom,” says pig-study author Sean P. Bush, a professor of emergency medicine at California’s Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Some doctors fear the deep suction could even worsen outcomes by killing skin at the wound site. The human study, published in 2004 by researchers at the University of California in Fresno, found that the device removed no more than 1% to 2% of mock venom from the leg.

      Sawyer Products owner Kurt Avery says he believes the studies show only that the product doesn’t work well in large muscle areas, such as thighs and calves. Based on the results, the company changed its label about two years ago to warn that the pump is “not as effective” at removing venom from large muscle areas. Mr. Avery maintains the product is effective when the bite is under the skin in hands, feet and other nonmuscled areas.

      That argument doesn’t sound plausible to Stanford University’s Paul S. Auerbach. Dr. Auerbach, who had advocated use of the Sawyer pump in his 2003 book “Medicine for the Outdoors” and is listed on Sawyer’s Web site as supporting the product, says the new edition of his book, expected out next month from Elsevier Inc., will recommend against its use based on newer research.

      Other doctors say the scientific evidence against the Sawyer pump is inconclusive. “The jury is still out” on the pump, says Robert S. Hoffman, director of the New York City Poison Control Center. He carries one in his backpack when he goes hiking in snake territory.

      Reply
  44. jean May 20, 2016

    I live in the Mojave Desert. I hike with my dogs daily. We have Mojave Greens.I am told this snake will kill you, if you don’t receive treatment within twenty minutes. I want to know if that is true, and if so…what on earth am I doing here…I’ve seen two already this spring.

    Reply
    • Jeff May 20, 2016

      NOT TRUE! Remember though any animal, snake, etc that is venomous or poisonous can kill you if you are allergic to it.

      Reply
  45. Jeff May 20, 2016

    Learn that snakes do not “come after you” . YOU learn this you will not stumble back and fall..

    Reply
  46. Alex Pavlov May 20, 2016

    Thank you very much for this useful info! Walking to get help and not waiting is #1.
    http://itz-sold.com

    Reply
  47. Ericka May 20, 2016

    I often hike /run in the CO trails behind our house. I’ve encountered rattlesnakes several times. As a preventitive measure, does wearing a bell or making noise deter them? Are there other ideas to deter them before you even get close?

    Reply
    • Moeregaard May 21, 2016

      No. Snakes are deaf. They pick up vibrations, but they don’t have ears and won’t hear bells.

      Reply
  48. Lori May 20, 2016

    Our hunting retriever gets a rattlesnake vaccine because he is in the field without immediate supervision. He was bit by a rattlesnake in January in freezing cold weather, while hunting. My husband did not see it, and only noticed the dog was not himself. So he walked him around to warm him up, and walked him a mile or two back to the truck. He then noticed his front leg was swollen, but couldn’t see a bite through his muddy paws. Altogether it was about 12 hours before he got to the vet. The vet found the bite, had concern about which kind of snake bit him because he was in an area that had two kinds of rattlesnakes. He also told us that there is a new breed of rattlesnake in Texas that rattles more quiet than most, (a result of all the rattlesnake shooting that goes on there, where the more quiet snakes survive because their rattles don’t give them away), that is also working its way to California. Anyway, the vaccine helped and apparently had the right anti venom, and he survived. But, do you know anything about this rattlesnake from Texas that has a less noisy rattle?

    Reply
    • Dan May 20, 2016

      So does my Jacques Rieur Malinois. Every year.

      Reply
  49. Osha Gray Davidson May 20, 2016

    I have an app that I like on my iPhone: SnakeBite911. Lots of helpful info.

    Reply
  50. Dan May 20, 2016

    As a geologist, I would average about 140 days per year in the field. In southern and southeastern Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and Oklahoma. I’d see hundreds of rattlesnakes each year, virtually all prairie rattlers, and would clean-off outcrops to the tune of about 100 rattlesnakes each year and the all tasted “pretty good”. Rattlesnakes are never aggressive, although they will not retreat either.

    THE BEST DEFENSE is developing a keen eye for snakes and always be aware that under or behind any rock, there could be a snake. Situational awareness is key along with pattern recognition. NEVER reach for a rock without visually examining the area. BULLSNAKES on the other hand will chase you, hissing all the way! At least that is my direct, personal experience.

    Some species of rattlesnakes will have moderate variability in color. The Pajarito Plateau Prairie Rattlesnake ranges from green to tan but have the same pattern.

    Rule 8: Rocks are good hiding places; Rattlesnakes are good at hiding; (Cardinal Rules for Field Personnel)

    FIRST AID: KEEP QUIET; DO NOT PANIC. Sit down and assess the nature of the bite. Intense pain and swelling indicate that envenomation has occurred. Not all rattlesnake bites will be badly envenomated and a quick encounter with a snake (poisonous or non-poisonous) can lead to extreme panic. FIGHT THE PANIC IMPULSE. Call 911 and await rescue, or ask a colleague(s) to assist you or go for help. Exertion will only make it worse. Mayo Clinic does specifically states not to use ice or attempt to remove toxin.
    http://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-snake-bites/basics/art-20056681

    One of the physicians that I encountered told me that blue jeans and other fabrics that cover the leg cause the snake’s small, fine, backwards-pointing teeth to be trapped in the fabric resulting in multiple, highly envenomated bites in the same area causing significant necrosis of the affected area. When working in areas with large numbers of snakes, stop, watch and let your eyes and brain become trained to the patterns, Study snakes at rest and while moving. Read Jeff’s comments above. The most important thing if bitten is to REMAIN CALM & QUIET, DO NOT EXERT YOURSELF AND WAIT FOR RESCUE. After being trained by a physician, I carried two units of polyvalent antivenom in the cooler for a couple of years. But then I was hours away from potential rescue and constantly exposed to venomous snakes.

    ALSO NOTE: Rattlesnakes have a single row of teeth top and bottom. Non-poisonous snakes have two rows top and bottom. If you are bitten by a snake, SIT DOWN and examine the wound. If you can see two narrow rows side-by-side, breathe a sigh of relief: it is probably non-poisonous (from personal experience). If there is no pain or swelling, then clean the wound and bandage it, get a tetanus shot, and go on about your life.

    I wear snake guards on my legs. AND I NEVER EVER EVER STICK MY HANDS WHERE THEY DO NOT BELONG! THe only bite I’ve ever gotten was on a finger.

    Reply
    • Dan May 20, 2016

      Most of the snakes I’ve seen during the day are in transitional times – Either Spring or early Autumn.

      Reply
  51. DAVID R. SIEGLER May 20, 2016

    RICHARD THERE SO BAD AT PECKS RANCH THE FOREST SERVICE DON’T GET OUT OF THERE VEHILE AFTER DARK SLEPT A MANY NIGHT THERE WE HAD SNAKE FOR SUPPER DON’T SUCK THE VEMEN OUT YOUR WORSE OFF THAT THE VITIM DON’T MOVE OR STEP OVER LOGS STEP ON TOP OF THE LOG THE SNAKES ARE AT HIGHER GROUND FOR WET GROUND BEST TREATMENT FOR A BITE IS ICE TO KEEP THE SWELLING DOWN..

    Reply
  52. Scott J May 20, 2016

    Crofab is the only antivenin available currently for pit vipers (rattlesnake, cottonmouth, copperhead) , pretty much the only class of snakes to bite on the trail in the US.

    Crofab is seriously expensive when a hospital administers it, can easily run $50K for an event, plus the other hospital charges.

    If you can check on your way to a hospital, see if they have it in stock, else see if there is an alternate facility with stock, go there instead. Due to the cost, and low volume of use, hospital pharmacies might be low or out of stock.

    Everything in the article is exactly what I learned after my son was bitten.

    Reply
  53. Astrelfrog May 21, 2016

    So: if there is rattlesnake vaccine for horses and dogs, why not people? That sounds silly to me.

    Reply
  54. Patty May 21, 2016

    I am concerned we pack in desolation wilderness it takes us 3 day to pack in what do we do no cell service and 3 days away from people

    Reply
  55. Larky Hodges May 21, 2016

    Our vet in northern New Mexico is a big believer in mega doses of Vitamin C. She suggests that you give your dog 2000mg/15 minutes. Her theory is that since vitamin C is an antioxidant it helps fight off the venom. My dog was bitten on the leg. We were able to get her to the vet in about 30 min. She did administer both antivenin and vitamin C. The great thing about vitamin C is that you can’t overdose on it. Any excess leaves via urine, so it can’t do any harm and might help and is easy to add to your pack. Also, it’s completely safe for us humans as well.

    Reply
  56. Johnny May 22, 2016

    You should worry more about being kidnaped or raped running on a trail in the woods Never. go with out a gun or several people my friends girlfriend was raped by Mexicans

    Reply
    • Kevin July 3, 2016

      idiot

      Reply
  57. Reese May 22, 2016

    Rattlesnakes are not human predators, and they only strike at humans, dogs, etc. when surprised. I learned from my Native American step father to walk with a large walking stick to tap the bushes or ground from side to side while walking. This sound alerts snakes who may be in your path to move away. Why someone would be running on a trail where rattlers are known to be is asking for trouble. Make some noise.
    Oh yes, jumping up and down and panicking if bitten will definitely increase the venom circulation.

    Reply
  58. gary May 23, 2016

    I have heard that it is possible to get a “dry bite” when bitten by a venomous snake if they have recently injected their venom into prey and was wondering if this is true and how long it would take for an adult snake’s venom to resupply?

    Reply
  59. Diana May 23, 2016

    Tried the 1 800 222 1212 number and it was an advertisement for Medical Alert Device for Senior Citizens.

    Reply
  60. Sam May 24, 2016

    I was bit by a baby rattlesnake. Baby snakes often can’t control how much venom they use, and therefor can be much more poisonous. Baby rattlers also don’t have their tails yet, so they are quiet. I ended up in the ICU for four days and then in the general hospital for another two.
    I think your article makes a lot of good points, but I was bit in a residential area. If you live out in the desert, don’t forget that snakes love to rest on the asphalt, because it’s warm. If you have to leave your house at night for any reason, take a flashlight and don’t stand in one place for two long…apparently the baby snake that bit me was not surprised or angry at my presence, but was just “curious”.

    Reply
  61. Debra Hanson May 25, 2016

    I live by the Rio Grande in SW New Mexico. We have spent a lot of time walking in the desert. My husband ground down the end of golf clubs to a point and we carried one each to tap back and forth as we walked encourage rattlers to move away or to get them to signal their presence. I’ve seen a lot rattlesnakes but came close to being bitten only once. We were on a ledge taking pictures of pictographs in the Doña Ana’s and when I leaned back out of a crevice a big diamond back came after me. I ran and it kept coming but it finally disappeared in the shale below. I can still see that damned thing in my total fold of vision striking at me. If it had struck me in the head or neck, I would have been a gonner. My an has had garter and bull snakes and I didn’t mind them at all and would carry them around, but the thought of a rattlesnake makes my blood run cold!

    Reply
  62. Debra Hanson May 25, 2016

    Some friend who live on the west Mesa above the Rio Grande had a small dog killed by a rattlesnake. Their back yard is enclosed by a wall, but the rattler got in and went inside the dog’s cage. The snake was positioned so that the dog could not get inside the garage through its doggy door. She was bitten several times. The son came home to find her still alive with the snake still in there with her. He grabbed her out and called the vet on the way in but unfortunately she couldn’t be saved.

    Reply
  63. erny kuncl May 28, 2016

    I was a Paramedic Ranger at Grand Canyon for 18 years and also a PA at the GRCA clinic for 11 years and hiked all over the world and was in deep Fer de Lance country ( South and Latin/Central America ) many times and sat on one FdL,for half an hour and when I got up it crawled out of its crack and loped away. Most snakes slither. Some, the Fer de Lance especially, lope, head high, so bites are at the knee level, and at GRCA I saw about 4 rattler bites a year. I have a dog and now live in Pueblo West where Rattlers are frequent.

    I’ve read a lot of false info and non info, so let me add my ideas. I took a full day course on snake bites for physicians from Stanke, MD. He summed it up and said the best FA for SB is ( and he held up his car keys and jingled them. ) go to a hospital that has antivenin !!!! It is horse serum derived and you must be tested for response to the injection before Tx. They put a drop in the eye an if it turns bright red you are allergic to horse serum.. So what – just get ready to Tx the anaphylactic shock and go for it or else just die from the SB. Or wait and see what happens using “benign neglect” as the often best Tx !!!!.

    Dogs can get “pre loaded” with the antivenin and this buys time for them. It lasts only about a month or two so you need to do it twice, spring and summer as it’s metabolized out of the dog’s system. It is not a vaccine there is none for rattlers or other snakes.

    With any bite, you have to wait and test for envenomation. snake (Crotalus, crotalus, rattler, ( has 28 to 33 subspecies depending on who you read ) has two components, it is proteolytic and hemolytic. It attaches to tissue, bonds, technically, which prohibits sucking it out. It dissolves protein tissue (muscle) leaving huge ulcerations and often necessitating amputation of limbs, and destroys the hemoglobin carrying ability of red blood cells (internal suffocation).

    All bites from dirty mouthed snakes will redden the bite site. If not envenomed it will have reddening ( erythema ) and swelling. Marking the area with a ballpoint or marks a lot pen(s) with time and line of redness and swelling is mandatory. So carry those tools. If you elect to use a T quit make certain it is only a lymph-a-quit so it must be loose enough to slip two fingers underneath it.

    In the ER/hospital/Clinic, they will check bleeding and clotting times to see if there is or isn’t envenomation. Using antivenin only if indicated by the blood tests! If it is a serious envenomation it will take a starting load of about ten (10) vials at $1,000 a vial. Most serious rattlesnake bites are expensive around $30 to $40,000 for the ER alone. Expect some residual pain and other side effects or a long time. If no venom was injected by the snake, it just gave you a “friendly lick”. You’re lucky, and need to keep the site absolutely clean and reduce chances of infection.

    Rattlers like most other snakes are blind and cannot hear. The trace their dinner with their tongue searching out the tasty and irritating venom leaking out of the bite site of the let’s say, a gopher or mouse. Once they get them they constrict them to death and then swallow them nose first and it’s really funny to see the mouse’s tail going in and down last!

    The snake has two lateral neuro-lines, the linea alba(s) (white lines ) which measure the weight of the animal coming towards it and if it is the wt. that approximates that of a suitable “dinner”, it slips it the right amount of “juice”. So most ( 70 % ) of human bites are non-envomated while the others are just out of anger or protection.

    I saw one guy repeatedly, who worked on a private ranch bordering the Grand Canyon boundary and he worked fence lines and got bit four times on the hands working in grass ( I can’t remember gloves or not) at the base of the fence post, but he never was envenomed!

    He was bitten by Crotalus viridis abysses, “the colorful pink rattler of the canyon” which is usually small and “friendly”.

    I worked occasionally in the PHX area and saw one woman ( wt @ = 280# and 5’3″ ) who was walking barefoot on the pavement in the rural desert area north of the city at night ! Back in the 1990’s. She stepped on a rattler (a big one about 8′ long and thick as my arm )and was bit (non-envenomated). She jumped up and came down on the snake again with the other foot and was bit again. This time with a lot of venom injected. She had swelling in the leg so thick it was cutting off her blood supply to her lower leg like a T-quit so a surgical slit was made ( to “split the sausage” and let the blood flow. She also used the ER’s supply of antivenin and a lot of other drugs, etc. This use of an ‘episiotomy’ was/is still, controversial but I see the rationale for its use and in this patient it was needed…..

    Rattlesnakes and other world snakes makes it obligatory that one needs the knowledge, the tools the preparation and have everything he or she or they will need in the event of snakebite, Maybe only a Bible and Sacred Holy Water or an Enemy Way Chant by a Dine Hatali is needed, Depending on what bit you and where you are !!!!! Friends of mine hiked across the state of Nevada avoiding all roads and wore tennis shoes with winter heavy cordury nylon cloth gaiters, I believe for snakes and all the prickly thing out there. A great idea and I’ve since used it!

    There is no such thing as a Rattlesnake vaccine. You can pay about $18 @ for two shots of anti venin (both venin {British} and venom {American} to “preload” your doggie and believe me I do this religiously where I live in Pueblo West, snake country and the edge of the world and I hike in tall grass, Russian Thistle, aka tumbleweed, and desert junk and I hike and walk my dog on my 6 acres, with a Browning Buck Mark semi auto pistol and/or a Savage Mk II .22 Bolt Action rifle with the same loads, which are .22 bird shot and I have blown away two rattlers in my time so far. I can see no reason for rattler existing and would replace them with Gopher, Bull, “other names” snakes if such a program existed. Same eco niche!

    Reply
  64. erny kuncl May 29, 2016

    Everything marked is answered what more do you want?

    Reply
    • clark February 16, 2017

      ahhhhh shuuuuuuuuuttttttttttuuuuuuppppp smat ass

      Reply
      • i go by goat 5th grade 11 February 16, 2017

        iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii lllllllllllllllllllllllllloooooooooooooooooooooooovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee tttttttttttttttttthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssssssssss wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeebbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbsssssssssssssssssiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttttttttttttttteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Reply
  65. ernest kuncl May 29, 2016

    OK my name is now the official version.

    Reply
    • i go by goat. February 16, 2017

      listen what ever your name is ….. sorry…anyways…….i have the same same question

      Reply
  66. Bill June 7, 2016

    If you hike, bike, etc. where there is poor cell service, especially alone like I do, get a SPOT device. They cost about $100 plus $100/year for service. SPOT uses GPS to know where you are, and satellite service to send your location and one of these messages:
    (1) Text and email “I’m OK” to your friends and family
    (2) Text and email “Send help” to your friends and family
    (3) 911 call to rescue personnel

    Available from REI and similar stores, or directly from findmespot.com.

    Reply
  67. […] Snake bites in remote locations = my worst nightmare.  If my horse or dog gets bit, there’s a straightforward and logical plan: walk them calmly out where I can get help. They may or may not make it. But somehow my mind completely goes into panic mode when thinking about *me* getting bit. I’ll probably just die. Bite -> lots of pain -> death. […]

    Reply
  68. […] General rattlesnake bite tips […]

    Reply
  69. JC June 17, 2016

    “No first aid is much better than performing bad first aid. ”

    This sentence makes it sound as if you’re advocating bad first aid.

    Maybe “Not providing first aid is much better than providing bad first aid.”

    Reply
  70. […] article was written by Floris Gierman for the Flotography site. He has given permission for Hike it Baby to reprint here to share the information he found […]

    Reply
  71. i go by goat. February 16, 2017

    what if u were on the organ trail??????

    Reply
  72. i go by goat. February 16, 2017

    don’t question the name?!?!?!? it is from school anyways …………i am in the 5th grade and need to know this really quickly if u could please?!!!???!!!

    p.s my friends name is french fries again don’t ask.

    Reply
  73. i go by goat 5th grade 11 February 16, 2017

    the only snake i got ever got bit by was a nothing

    Reply
  74. dudu on the beat February 16, 2017

    poop yourself

    Reply
  75. i go by goat 5th grade 11 February 16, 2017

    did yall know that any one with the name logan is gay

    Reply
  76. i go by goat 5th grade 11 February 16, 2017

    lol

    Reply
  77. dudu on the beat February 16, 2017

    lala

    Reply
  78. dudu on the beat February 16, 2017

    lakinda

    Reply
  79. CLARK February 16, 2017

    when i say dodo on the u say beat

    Reply
  80. CLARK February 16, 2017

    SEX…SEX…SEX…

    Reply
  81. CLARK February 16, 2017

    THAT WAS WEARIED……….RABIES?!?!?!?!?!?!/!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?

    Reply
  82. Flo February 17, 2017

    stop hacking my web site Clark if that’s your name this is for information ONLY so….. stop making fun of sex

    Reply
  83. CLARK February 17, 2017

    what do u f***ing want freak

    Reply
  84. i go by goat February 17, 2017

    pardon me but………i am in the 5th grade that means i am 11 please change the subject?!?!?!?!

    Reply
  85. CLARK's buddy :=) February 17, 2017

    do u want to hear a meme

    Reply
  86. i go by goat 5th grade 11 February 17, 2017

    first how old are you.

    Reply
  87. CLARK's buddy :=) February 17, 2017

    15

    Reply
  88. CLARK's buddy :=) February 17, 2017

    some one that old should know how to punctuate a sentence.

    Reply
  89. CLARK's buddy :=) February 17, 2017

    i am special ok

    Reply
  90. CLARK's buddy :=) February 17, 2017

    lol sike

    Reply
  91. i go by goat 5th grade 11 February 17, 2017

    go ahead…

    Reply

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