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Old 01-06-2017, 05:50 PM
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Default GUIDE: Snake Bites! How to Avoid Them and Treat them

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Snake Bites! How to Avoid Them and Treat them.

I started this thread because there seems to be a lot of concern about this subject and very few solid answers. The most common question is; "What can I do if I am bitten while alone in the woods?" The two most common answers are either, "Prevention is Best" and "Seek Professional Help if Bitten".

I will try to do my best to provide real instructions on what you can do. Telling someone to practice "Prevention" without actually telling them how to do this is, is like telling a freezing person to get warm without giving them a coat or at least teaching them how to build a fire.

1. About Me:

a. Before I dive into instructions, let me give you a little background on myself. I have over 40 years of wilderness exploration, hunting and survival experience. I have lived with and studied the ways and survival techniques of many primitive tribes. I have traveled and done deep exploration excursions in some of the most remotest parts of the world where no hope of rescue or medical treatment was available. Places beyond the reach of the "Safety Net of Civilization" where one mistake meant almost certain death. Where the only thing keeping me alive was my own two hands, my wits (wisdom & knowledge) and God. Since I am writing this, I am obviously still alive, so that says something right there. Now let's get down to business.

2. My Experience with Snake Bites:
a. Well, the truth is, although I have spent more time in the woods where snakes are then 99% of people alive on earth today, I have never been snake bit. Came close many times, but never actually bitten. Why? Well, not to discount the hand of God protecting me, I think the practice of proper prevention techniques, has gone a long way to keeping me alive. Although a I could write a book on this subject, I am going to try to condense the rules of prevention down to 6 basic practical rules that should prevent most bites and provide guidelines to learn the rest.


You know the old saying? "An ounce of prevention is better then a pound of cure." Well, those old timers that made that saying up actually knew what they were talking about. In no place is this more true then when it comes to snake bites. While there are some treatments, such as anti-venoms, there is no actual cure and no guaranty that treatment will work if even if you got it in time. So prevention is the key here.

The 6 Rules of Snake Bite Prevention:

Here are six basic rules, that if practiced with religious fervor, will prevent 99% of all snake bites.

1. A large portion of snake bites occur because people are messing with or trying to handle snakes. There is another old saying that you may have heard; "If you play with fire long enough, you are going to get burned!". Even trained professionals that have been handling snakes for years and have the proper equipment, get bit! If you will just leave them alone, you can avoid a good percentage of bites.

1. I have known a couple people that got bit because they were running in the woods. You might be wondering why? Let me answer that. You must understand that, snakes are not evil. They are not out to get you. Yes, some may have deadly poison, but this poison's purpose is for hunting for food. Venomous snakes have a limited supply of poison and it takes them time to replenish it once they use it up, so they don't like to waste it on things they can't eat. Since snakes can't chew and tear meat off a large animal, they must swallow their food whole. This means that you are not food, and they would rather not bite you if they don't have too.
2. So, why you ask, are they more likely to bite someone who is running? I am glad you asked that question. You see, since a snakes whole belly is in contact with the ground, they can feel even minor vibrations from impact tremors caused by large animals and humans as they approach. Snakes really don't like getting stepped on by huge animals and will move out of the path if they are given time to do so. But, if you are running, you will get to them before then can move and they will strike defensively to protect themselves from being squished.
a. When snakes shed their skin, they are temporarily blind. Because of this they are afraid to move and will stand their ground. They are very aggressive during this time and will strike at any heat signature that comes within range. The other rules will keep you safe in this instance.

1. Now I know you are like, "What?" But it is true. You should never step over a fallen log. The reason for this is simple. First, snakes may be predators, but they are also prey, (especially for hawks). Because of this they do not like to be out in the wide open and are usually found next to a low structure, such as a fallen logs. When you step over a fallen log, you cannot see what is on the other side, so you are stepping into a place you have not cleared as safe. Also, because the snake feels that it is protected by the log and safe, it is less likely to move when you approach. So when you step over the log, your foot and leg may be coming down within inches of the snake and it is very likely to strike you.
2. Okay, you say. How do you cross a log if you can't step over it? Boy, you are asking great questions today. Again, the answer is simple. You step on top of it. When you step on top of the log, this gives you a change to see what's on the other side before stepping down. Also, the average stride of a normal human is over two feet, so when you step down, you should be stepping two to three feet away from the base of the log. Since most snakes have a strike range of 30% of the length of their body, this puts you outside the range of all but the hugest of snakes, which of course you could easily see if you look down to check the other side.

1. This rule actually applies to any part of your body, especially your hands. It will protect you not only from snake bites, but any other bite, such as spiders and scorpions. Don't put your hands or feet in holes, under logs or boards, rocks or anything place you cannot see. This rule seems like common sense, but most of all bites (any kind) occur because people fail to follow this rule.

1. Why not? Well, the truth is, snakes are cold blooded heat seeking missiles. Snakes do not like the cold. They are cold blooded and can't move well when it gets cold at night. They also can sense a heat source like a military heat seeking missile. They are very attracted to heat sources at night. And if you are laying there in the open, nice and cozy in your warm sleeping bag, don't surprised if a snake does become a bed companion. Oh, he is not there to bite you. You are just a heater to him. The problem comes when you wake up and move. The snakes suddenly realizes that you are going to squish him and BAM!
2. It is best to not sleep on the ground at all if possible, but if not, make sure you are in a nice sealed up tent with no holes. Actually, there are many other things, like diseases, that can be avoided by not sleeping on the ground, especially in the tropics.


1. Okay, I am not saying here that you should kill snakes for no reason. But there are occasions where even though you have followed all the rules, you find yourself in a situation where you have a split second to react to avoid getting bit. Let me give you a personal example of this.
2. Years ago I was part of a group doing some exploring deep in the Amazon. I was in the lead forging a trail into the dense jungle. My buddy was a step behind me off to my left. There is a very venomous snake in the Amazon that I don't know the American name for, so I will just call it a Brown Tree Viper (Brazilians called it "Jararaca" but they use this name for other poisonous snakes as well). Very few people have ever survived it's bite. This snake looks like a tree branch and hunts for birds by laying along a tree branch, waiting for birds to land on them. Because they are not on the ground, they can't feel you coming and therefore don't move out of the way. Because of this they are very dangerous and you must keep a continuous watch for them, which is hard because they look like a branch and you are in a forest of millions of branches. Anyways, there I was hacking a rough trial through the viney jungle when a slight movement off to my left caught my eye in my peripheral vision. It was a Brown Tree Viper on a tree branch about chest high. It was recoiling to strike my buddy in the chest who about a foot away. With split second timing and extreme speed and precision I swung my 24 inch razor sharp machete horizontally with my left hand across the top of the branch as the snake struck at my friend. I caught the snake mid strike, decapitating it inches from his chest, stopping my machete about a half inch from him. He never even saw the snake. For a split second he stood there with this shocked look on his face as my machete stood quivering in front of him. Then the body of the snake fell off the branch and started writhing on the ground and he understood that I had just saved his life.
3. There are occasions you will need to have the tools and ability to kill a snake with speed and precision. Had I not had not the proper tool and ability, I would have had to watch my friend die in my arms that day and go back and tell his wife and four kids that he died because I was not prepared to save him. This is not the only occasion that a good machete or a gun, and skill has save me or someone else from a snake bite. I once used a fishing pole to fend off an attack from a snake known as "Cobra Papagaio" by the locals. A very aggressive snake that is lightening fast and super deadly (believed to use a neurotoxin like the Black Mamba). I was fishing from a dugout canoe in the Amazon. A cast landed close by a tree branch that the snake was in and the snake jump from the tree into the water and began trying to climb in my boat to get me. By using my fishing rod to slap the water I was able to finally kill the snake, but only after the forth time he tried to climb in the boat. Some might question if the snake was after me or just trying to get out of the water. Well, I did not stop to ask this lightening fast deadly poisonous snake that question. The fact is, he is dead and I am alive, and that is all that matters. Read the next section to better understand this mentality.

4. My point here is this. Take the time to develop the mentality and skill you need to protect yourself. Always make sure that you have the tools and ability to kill a snake in a split second. I also want to state here that, while I don't advocate the needless killing of snakes, you must erase any thought you have in your mind that doing so is in any way wrong if the situation calls for it. A split second hesitation may cost you your life. If you hold beliefs, (like some people do) that value animal life as equal to human life, then you may hesitate a split second too long when the time comes, and that may cost you your life. You don't play Russian Roulette with a deadly poisonous snake. The rule of survival is: Kill First and ask Questions Later.

Section 2: TREATMENT

If you follow the six rules of prevention above, you will most likely never need treatment, but nothing can ever assure that you will never get bit. The question is what can you do if you do get bit? Well, the answers here are about as wide and varied as snowflakes. Let me try to explain why this is such a difficult subject.

a. There are two basic types of venom that snakes have, Hemotoxin and Neurotoxin. 99% of venomous snakes carry a hemotoxin.

Actually, the primary purpose of the hemotoxin, is not to kill. It is to help in digestion. It causes rapid tissue break down. When a snake bites a rat, the rat begins to decay and digest before the snake even swallows it. Whether a person survives a bite from a snake with a hemotoxin actually has more to do with the person who is bit, then it does with the snake that bit them. It all depends on how that person's body reacts to the bite. Just like a bee sting might be a mild irritation to one, but deadly to another, a person's allergy reaction, or lack of, plays a huge role in survivability. Any snake bite is very serious, but whether you survive or not may come down to you.

Unlike the hemotoxin, the neurotoxin is meant to kill, and it does a great job and fast. Fortunately, only a few snake posses a neurotoxin type venom. That I know of, in North America, only the Coral Snake has a neurotoxin. That is very fortunate, because the Coral Snake is small and has no fangs and must chew to deliver it. The Black Mamba of Africa on the other hand does have fangs, and even worse it is one of the fastest snake in the world and is highly aggressive, sometimes attacking unprovoked. Rule number 6 should be followed carefully in regions where this snake exist. There is little chance of survival if a snake with a neurotoxin bites you. Complete paralysis sets in within a matter of seconds or minutes and anti-toxin treatment must begin almost immediately. If you get bit by one of these snakes, prepare yourself to meet your maker, because baring a miracle, you most likely will.

What about treatments?

I will be honest. Outside of a hospital, there is not a whole lot that you can do, but I am not saying to not try. I am just saying, don't put all your eggs in that basket. There are pros and cons arguments about every snake bite treatment I could suggest. If I said that you should cut the bite to let it bleed the toxins out, there are those that will argue that cutting does more damage then good. If I said you should carry The Extractor, to try to suck the poison out, others would cite studies that claim that is useless. If I said you should carry a stun gun and try electro shock, some would say I am an idiot. If I suggested a tunicate to slow the spread of the poison, there would those who argue that doing this could lead to the loss of a limb.
Here is how I look at it. If I am out in the woods alone and I get bit and can't get out and have no way to call for help; I am most likely going to die anyway. So what if I lose a leg, if I try to use a tunicate to stop the poison from reaching my heart. That leg is not going to do me any good IF I AM DEAD! So what if I might cut a tendon trying to bleed the poison out. A full functioning body is not going to do me any good if I am dead. If I have The Extractor, you bet I am going to use it. At then end of the day, I might do all four. I might cut, shock, suck and tunicate. I might even cut my leg arm off to stay alive. Because all that matters is, staying alive to see my family again. When you are in a snake bit situation where professional medical treatment is not available, you are in what I call a, "Gun or the Cliff" situation. If a man was holding a gun to your head and said, "You can jump off this 100 foot cliff or I am going to blow your brains out." Which one would you choose? In this situation, there is no certainty of survival either way, so you balance the odds, and jump off the cliff, because there is a better chance to surviving a 100 foot fall then a bullet to the brain. Even though it's not much of a better chance, it is still the best choice.
To give you a real example; I once read a story about a banana harvester in Honduras that was bitten by a snake that was in stalk of bananas. The snake was believed by the locals to have a neurotoxin type venom that caused almost instant death. The story goes that the man reached up and grabbed the banana stalk with one hand and was swinging his machete to cut off the stalk form the tree when the snake bit him in the hand. The man diverted his swing and cut his hand off instead, and survived what would have most certainly been a fatal bite. Do you think he made the right choice? He survived didn't he.

What about Anti-venom?

Well, it would be really nice if there were such a thing as a nice self injecting dose of anti-venom apparatus that would cover all types of venomous snake and did not need refrigeration and did not cost thousands of dollars. But there is no such thing. So, unless you have thousands of dollars to buy all the different types needed to cover all the snakes in your area and you have a way to keep it refrigerated on your backpacking trip, carrying anti-venom with you is not a real option.

Are there any other options?

Fortunately the answer is, Yes. Back in the 1980s when I did deep jungle exploration in the Amazon, there was no hope of rescue if things went south, but today is a different story. Today we have advance satellite coverage all over the earth and pocket GPS devices that you can carry and communicate with no matter where you are in the world. Personally, I don't go into a remote area without one these day. I use the SPOT Emergency beacon. The device cost $150 and it cost only $100 for a year of service and gives you insurance to cover the cost of rescue through the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center. I also carry the Spot Global Phone ($499) that will allow you to call from anywhere in the world. They have the most reasonable rates for a satellite phone (I have tried both Iridium and Global star). The Spot Global Phone works on the Globalstar satellite network and coverage is a little sketchy in Polar regions. though. Iridium is the best for Polar regions.

The only natural snake bite treatment (for homotoxin) that I have seen to be effective, is practiced by a certain tribe of Amazon Indians I worked with back in the 1980. I knew three guys personally that had all survived bites from the deadly Bushmaster with nothing but this treatment (I heard of several others as well). It sounds utterly crazy and I have no explanation for why it would even work. When a member of this tribe gets bit, they immediately squeeze fresh sugar cane juice right onto the bite and then make the bite victim eat massive quantities of sugar cane. That's it! Don't ask me why it works, because I can't tell you. I mention it only as a side note because getting some fresh sugar cane juice in the US is probably more difficult then getting some anti-venom.

There is so much more I could say about this topic, but I would really need to write a book. I hope you find this information helpful. I hope to produce a video series soon in which I cover topics like these. You can subscribe to my youtube channel if you would like to receive a notice when these videos start coming out.

My youtube channel
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Old 01-06-2017, 07:30 PM
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5keepers 5keepers is offline
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Jungleexplorer is Spot On!...
Rule #1= Common sense... very lacking in some or most.
Rule #2 = kids.. parents responsibility!
Rule #3 and #4 are the biggest reasons people get bit, I think.
Rule #5 Absolute last emergency place to sleep
Rule #6 You must be willing (and able)

I am allergic to bee stings, a snake bite would probably be fatal. When in any area that M I G H T have posinous snakes I wear tall gore-tex Snake Proof Danner boots. I do not want to take the chance!!

When you are close - You can smell rattlesnakes (billy goat smell) and copperheads (cucumbers). Cottonmouths and water moccasins are aggressive where I live!(major river)
Old 01-06-2017, 07:46 PM
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His article is pretty good
I also have a blog about "How to Treat a Snake Bite and Top 5 most Venomous Snakes"
You can refer it
Old 01-06-2017, 07:59 PM
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9111315 9111315 is offline
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Originally Posted by jungleexplorer View Post

1. A large portion of snake bites occur because of people are messing with or trying to handle snakes. There is another old saying that you may have heard; "If you play with fire long enough, you are going to get burned!". Even trained professionals that have been handling snakes for years and have the proper equipment, get bit! If you will just leave them alone, you can avoid a good percentage of bites.
No! No! No!

Rule #1 is Cardo.

At best, you could call this Rule 1a -- where you can't play with snakes if you are running away from the snakes.


Whoohoo! I got a new Flux Capacitor today. I should have called Granger sooner!
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Old 01-07-2017, 12:01 AM
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varuna varuna is online now
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Thank You so.much for writing the guide Jungle. I've been looking for this kind of guide for sometime, and yours is the most comprehensive I've found so far.
Old 01-07-2017, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by varuna View Post
Thank You so.much for writing the guide Jungle. I've been looking for this kind of guide for sometime, and yours is the most comprehensive I've found so far.
You are welcome Varuna. I am very happy you found it helpful.
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Old 01-07-2017, 11:10 AM
ppine ppine is online now
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Watch where you put your hands and feet, especially when the temperature is around 70 degrees and dawn and dusk. Most people get bit messing with snakes. Leave them alone.

Snake bite in the bush is a problem. It is often a long walk to the truck. It is very useful to carry a shovel, hiking sticks or a staff in snake country.
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Old 01-07-2017, 04:15 PM
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TMcArthur TMcArthur is offline
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We have a sticky on this for the USA....

With split second timing and extreme speed and precision I swung my 24 inch razor sharp machete
Oh... really?

There are a lot of reasons I don't want to go to the Amazon. Snakes are just one. Most of the advice here is spot-on even if a bit dramatic. I'm not about to chop off any limbs just because I get bitten, though.

In the US most venomous snake bites are not fatal. Anywhere from 30-50% of all rattler bites inject no venom at all. Copperhead and Cottonmouth take the same antivenin as rattlers but are less venomous. If you are bitten and get a full dose of venom, a vial or two of antivenin won't help you. A dozen would be a good place to start. Fifty would not be out of the question. I have heard of as many as 70 being used. Only pit vipers are generally given antivenin. Coral snake bites, they put you on life support until your body detoxes itself. Fortunately, coral snake bites are extraordinarily rare.

Most rattlesnake bites involve young males, stupidity, and alcohol. The simple rule of not putting your hand or feet anywhere you can't see would have prevented most of the rest. I've met plenty of rattlers on the trail. Some rattled, some slithered away and some just froze. These are all responses intended to keep you from eating them or crushing them.

As to killing snakes, if you have time to pull your gun or machete, you have time to step back. I might kill for another person or an animal I couldn't pull back. (In the US we don't have hypervenomous snakes pretending to look like tree branches.) The SPOT communicator is a great device, as is the DeLorme InReach. (IIRC, DeLorme has been bought by Garmin.)

There is little first aid for pit viper bites except to stay calm, keep the bite below the heart, remove all clothing and jewelry from the bitten limb and prepare to treat for shock if it sets in. Otherwise just treat like any puncture wound. If it is bad, nothing can replace prompt professional medical care. That's why I have that communicator with me. I want that medevac chopper out there ASAP if I need it.

Snakes are beautiful and an important part of rodent control. I don't begrudge them respect just because they have venom.

This little fella just froze and hoped I didn't see him. The dog walked right over it and didn't even notice. I guess that strategy works.

Old 01-07-2017, 07:01 PM
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I am an Intermediate EMT with some extra studies on snake bites. I will share some knowledge with you in a little bit. Got company here now....
Old 01-08-2017, 02:26 AM
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Originally Posted by TMcArthur View Post
We have a sticky on this for the USA....

(In the US we don't have hypervenomous snakes pretending to look like tree branches.)
I'm no snake expert or have plenty experience with it, but tropical snake including non venomous somehow has tendency to pretend to be tree branch especially at night

this particular species (Reticulated python) for example love to pretend as tree branch, or tree trunk if they growth to that size

As you can see on the first picture, it try to hang from wooden stand, albeit the 2 wooden stand collapsed afterward (the cage were made for Cockatoo and as it happen its the only metal cage I had at the moment)
Old 01-08-2017, 10:14 AM
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Gordon Randal Gordon Randal is offline
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I grew up hunting in the Ozark Mountains. Copperheads, some rattle snakes, water moccasins. We learned at an early age to walk carefully and "look out". Learned to watch for certain types of things where snakes were more likely to be and avoid if possible. Rocky ledges, blackberry patches when they are ripe.... Had close encounters over the years but no bites so far. The most important thing: be alert!
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Old 01-11-2017, 01:15 PM
M16A1 M16A1 is offline
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Remember that some snakes around the world carry both hemotoxin and neurotoxin. Such snakes are these:
1) Rhinoceros Viper
2) Tropical Rattlesnake
3) Mojave Rattlesnake- This snake can be found in western Texas, the Mojave desert to California and south into Mexico.
4) Gaboon Viper


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