America Camping Xplorers

Snake Facts:

– There are over 2700 different Breeds of Snakes in the world.
– Less than one-third of the 2,700 species of snakes are classified as poisonous and fewer than 300 
species of snakes may be fatal to humans. In fact, more than twice as many people in the United
 States are killed annually by bees, wasps, and scorpions than by snakes.
– Snakes are one of the most persecuted animals in the world.
– In the United States, there are over 25 different species of Rattlesnakes.
– Snakes are one of the only animals in the United States that helps control the US rodent population.

Generally not aggressive, rattlesnakes strike when threatened or deliberately provoked, but given room they will retreat. Most snake bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing. The majority of snakebites occur on the hands, feet and ankles.

Rattlesnakes usually avoid humans, but about 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year, with 10 to 15 deaths, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The most common venomous snake in Idaho is the Western Rattlesnake. Other nonvenomous snakes of Idaho include the Rubber Boa, Racer, Ringneck Snake, Night Snake, Striped Whipsnake, Common Garter Snake, Gopher Snake, Ground Snake, and Longnose Snake.

Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors. About 25 percent of the bites are “dry,” meaning no venom was injected, but the bites still require medical treatment. Depending on weather and threatening conditions such wildfires; rattlesnakes may roam at any time of the day or night. If walking at night, be sure to use a flashlight.

To avoid rattlesnake bites these safety precautions may help:

  • Wear appropriate over-the-ankle hiking boots, thick socks, and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.

  • When hiking, stick to well-used trails if all possible.

  • Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.

  • Look at your feet to watch where you step and do not put your foot in or near a crevice where you cannot see.

  • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. · If a fallen tree or large rock is in your path, step up on to it instead of over it, as there might be a snake on the other side.

  • Be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood.

  • Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.

  • Do not turn over rocks or logs. If you must move a rock or log, use gloves and roll it toward you, giving anything beneath it the opportunity to escape in the opposite direction.

  • Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.

  • Avoid approaching any snake you cannot positively identify as a safe species.

  • If you hear the warning rattle, move away from the area and do not make sudden or threatening movements in the direction of the snake.

  • Remember rattlesnakes do not always rattle before they strike!

  • Do not handle a freshly killed snake – it can still inject venom.

Venomous snakes in North America

About 25 species of venomous snakes are found in North America, all but the coral snake have slit-like eyes and are known as pit vipers. Their heads are triangular, with a depression (pit) midway between the eye and nostril on either side of the head.

Rattlesnakes rattle by shaking the rings at the end of their tails.

Water moccasins’ mouths have a white, cottony lining.

Coral snakes have red, yellow and black rings along the length of their bodies.

                                                                           First Aid for Snake Bite

If bitten by a rattlesnake DO NOT:

Do not make incisions over the bite wound.

Do not restrict blood flow by applying a tourniquet.

Do not ice the wound.

Do not suck the poison out with your mouth.

Do not use modern over-the-counter snakebite kits which consist of a suction device for drawing out venom from the bite wound.

Do not slice across the fang marks and try to suck out the venom with your mouth. The poison can enter your bloodstream through cuts or sores in your mouth and might be swallowed.

Don’t try to capture the snake. Try to remember its color and shape so that you can describe it, which will help in your treatment.

These methods can very well cause additional harm and most amputations or other serious results of a rattlesnake bite are a result of icing or applying a tourniquet.

Do’s for snake bites

  • Do Stay calm and move beyond the snake’s striking distance.

  • Do wash the bite area gently with soap and water if available

  • Do Remove watches, rings, etc., which may constrict swelling

  • Do Immobilize the affected area

  • Do keep the bite below the heart if possible

  • Do call the park ranger or 911

  • Do transport safely to the nearest medical facility immediately.

Frenetic, high-speed driving places the victim at greater risk of an accident and increased heart rate. If the doctor is more than 30 minutes away, keep the bite below the heart, and then try to get to the medical facility as quickly as possible.

Rattlesnake serum (antivenin) is made from antibodies extracted from horse blood. The serum has its own side effects as the body will have an allergic reaction. However, it’s the most effective treatment available. Rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal with less than 1 in 600 resulting in death, and approximately 33 percent not containing injection of venom at all. However, you should assume for your own sake that venom has been introduced and always seek treatment.

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