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Old 08-24-2014, 10:07 PM
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Dragunov Dragunov is offline
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Default Snake bite first aid

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I am a herpetologist, I have been most of my life, with YEARS of field study, principally, in the U.S., but also somewhat abroad.

This guide is intended as an educational tool for those who frequent the outdoors, and/or live where venomous creatures abound.

This material is COPYRIGHTED. Besides that, most of the pictures are not mine, but you may make a copy for yourself, read here freely, or use your copy for educating your family. Please do not distribute. Please respect that. This is a lot of time, and hard work.

It is offered here to you, FIRST and FREE.

My thanks to ***OldDoc*** for proof reading, and his valued opinions.

FIRST thing I would like to touch upon is snake bite, and what to, and what NOT to do if bitten.

Best advice? Don't muck with venomous snakes, it's just not worth it! A moderate, to severe bite, will cost you at LEAST $150,000! Antivenin is VERY expensive!

IF you are bitten:

What to, and what NOT to do, for a snake bite.


Do NOT lance, cut the bite, or put your mouth on the bite.
This is a good way to cause an infection.

Do NOT use a tourniquet. Keeping hemo/cytotoxic venom pooled, will only cause more tissue destruction than necessary, and may even provide the need for amputation. In dire straights, a tourniquet may be your only option, but the best way to preserve life and limb, is to learn the symptoms of snakebite severity. You DON'T want to lose a limb, when it's not necessary!

Do NOT use cold on a bite. Cryo-treating a bite, will cause already traumatized tissues to become frost bitten, adding that on top of already destroyed tissue. Envenomed tissue will frost bite VERY easily, and VERY quickly!

Do NOT elevate the bitten area. Keep the limb low. This makes blood flow more difficult, and slows venom absorption.

Do NOT SHOCK THE BITE!! This is absolutely the worst idea, amongst all bad ideas. Most snake venoms have cardiotoxins. When bitten, your heart is already undergoing a toxic event (experience speaking here… LISTEN!). Adding an electric charge, to an already traumatized cardiovascular system, can force you into cardiac arrest, and a short-bus ride to your coffin!

Beating the bite with the split body of a dead chicken, dousing in kerosene/alcohol/gasoline, spitting chewing tobacco juice, all have about the same rate of cure as electric shock. That's because most bites are mild envenomations, or dry bites. Just about anything will have a high rate of "cure". However, the first is messy, the second will hurt like the blazes, but both are harmless enough. The third, is just nasty, and may cause an infection. However, shocking a bite if you have a serious envenomation, has a good chance of killing you.

Do NOT attempt to kill the snake. This is a good way to end up with two snake bite victims. The first bite was probably out of fear. The second person bitten, will be bitten out of fear AND anger. Now, who do you think will receive the more severe bite? If you MUST kill the snake, USE A SHOTGUN, BLOW OFF THE HEAD!!! Use a knife, or shovel, to finish the amputation AFTER it is dead. Do NOT touch the head, you can STILL, and probably WILL be severely bitten!

Keep in mind, 99% of snake bites do NOT result in death. Your survivability is 99%. Don’t complicate it.

What can you do?

Keep patient calm. EDUCATE yourself on how to identify venomous snakes. That is what this guide is for.

Get the victim to medical treatment ASAP. Once again, ANY venomous snake bite is a bonifide, medical emergency! In the mean time, carry a “sharpie” brand pen. When redness, and swelling start, draw an outline around the swollen, red area with the sharpie, and write the time right on the skin. Do this every fifteen minutes. GET TO THE HOSPITAL!



Anaphylaxis can occur over just about any toxic event. This includes bee/scorpion/wasp/jelly fish/anemone stings, snake bite, spider bite (not AS likely), reduviid beetle (assassin bug) bites, water beetle bites, food poisoning, etc. Anaphylaxis, is your bodies over reaction to toxic substances,

Most commonly, bee stings. If you are allergic to bee stings, ALWAYS carry Epi-pens, as you are most likely allergic to other bites and stings.

If you don't know if your allergic or not, get tested by your doctor. Once again, get Epi-pens. Epi-pens save lives!

Coral snake (Elapid) and Mojave rattlesnake (Elapid-like venom) bites.

The following information, is the only acceptable treatment for THESE TWO SNAKES ONLY!

We will take a page from Australian first responders (Thanks to our friends from down under).

Compression bandage for elapid/scutulatus bites.

Use a wide bandage, about five inches wide, and put it on no tighter than you would for a sprain. If the fingers get cold, or start to turn purple, IT’S TOO TIGHT. The point is to stop the spread of lymph. Between some gentle pressure and immobilizing the lymph, the venom spread can be significantly reduced. KEEP THE BITTEN PERSON STILL!! This goes a long way towards stopping the spread of venom.

Here is a short, concise video on how to apply an Aussie compression bandage. Once again, this should ONLY be used on Mojave rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus), and Coral snake (Micrurus sp./Micruroides sp.) bites. NEVER use one on hemo/cytotoxic bites.

All other U.S. snake bites, keep the person calm, and get them to medical treatment as soon as possible.

Next? Avoiding venomous snakes.

A few things first.

There is no effective "snake repellent". Snakes do not sense things the way mammals do.

You're never going to be able to 100%, eliminate snakes in your yard.

NEVER stick your hands anywhere that you can't clearly see.

Wear protective footwear when in snake country, and loose fitting blue jeans.

LOOK before you step. Particularly, where you can't see, like the back side of a log, or rock, where your vision is obstructed. Step ON the log or rock, LOOK, then step over it. NEVER step over it to the other side without looking!

First thing I'd like to say is that I don't kill any snake on purpose. Not even venomous ones. I always find another way.

If you MUST kill a venomous snake, blow its head off with a shotgun. Make SURE the head is completely obliterated. If it's still attached to the snake, use a shovel to cut the rest of the head off, then bury the head. People have been mortally bitten, by a decapitated head.

Best way to deal with a snake problem?

First, education. Learn to tell the difference between venomous, and non-venomous species. Not all snakes are harmful, and are necessary for a balanced environment (Please pardon my "tree-hugger" moment).

Keep debris AWAY from your house, and off your property. Especially, if you have children. Keep your grass mowed and trimmed. The fewer hiding places they have, the less the likelihood of an encounter.

Kids will lift up boards, sheets of plywood, and sheets of barn roofing, out of curiosity. Personally, I almost NEVER walk by a sheet of tin, etc. without lifting it, and I'm 53 years old. These are favorite hiding places for snakes, and for children to "take a peek".

Use weather stripping on the bottom of your doors. This will minimize the chances of a snake entering your house, and organizing a poker game in the middle of your floor, or drinking your coffee in the morning. Copperheads (A. contortrix sp.) are good at getting into your house.

Keep a broom at each door, to shoe them away. They like to lay along the bottom of doors. Particularly, garage doors. Weather stripping helps here, because they generally like to go places where they can find heat. This includes the bottom of doors, where heat escapes your house.

DO NOT leave pet doors unlocked, or accessible at night! In snake country, leaving them as access, is NOT a good idea.

Close all crawl spaces under your house, garage, barns, out buildings, chicken coops, and dog houses. Inspect animal housing BEFORE putting your animal in it. They will go to those places to escape the heat during the day. Knowing their habits will help tell you when and where, they're most likely to hide.

They generally hibernate in the winter, even in the south, although on the warmer days they will come out and bask.

In spring and fall, they're DIURNAL (Daytime).

In late spring, early summer, late summer, and early fall, they are CREPUSCULAR (Twilight, and very early morning, during sun up).

In the summer, they are NOCTURNAL (Night time, although, they CAN be encountered during the day). Be particularly careful, when walking about your yard at night.

When the days are warm, and the nights are chilly, this is the time most likely to find them under boards, and similar debris.

Snakes chasing you.

I have debated, and debated this. Even with myself. Cottonmouths are particularly blamed for this..... Personally, I haven't seen it, and I have been around MANY of them, both in captivity, and in the wild. They WILL stand their ground, however.

If you're in a boat, and they are crossing nearby in the water, they may attempt getting into your boat. They're not chasing you, but you ARE in their way, and will attempt to get into the boat. Snakes (most of them), have poor eyesight, and will look at a boat as "a big rock" or some other kind of "shelter". Same with falling out of a branch onto your boat. Most likely, it was sleeping, or at rest, you surprised it, and it was trying to escape. Unfortunately, you were in the way.

The ONLY two snakes that I know of, that WILL chase you, are Cobras, and Mambas. I have seen this behavior from time to time, in non-venomous Racers (Coluber sp.). All these have some intelligence, have good eyesight, hunt by eyesight and are territorial.

The above information, and good, common sense, will help keep those unwanted snake encounters, in check.

Identifying venomous creatures
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Old 10-12-2014, 04:09 PM
Mels thinkingitover Mels thinkingitover is offline
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What an excellent reference for us to have. Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge Dragunov.
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