So picture this: you’re out exploring nature, perhaps in a country you’re not used to. You’re just enjoying your surroundings, and all of a sudden you feel an excruciating amount of pain. You realize you’ve been bitten by a snake. You start to panic.
You may not know what to do when a snake bites you, and that can make the situation even more scary. However, it can help to know how to deal with a snake bite in advance to keep yourself safe. Here’s everything that you need to know about snake bites and how to deal if one ends up biting you.
Why Do Snakes Bite?
Snakes may bite for a vast number of reasons, though primarily a snake will bite if it either feels threatened by something or if it’s trying to catch its prey. The reasons may differ from snake to snake.
What Kind of Snakes Will Bite?
It’s important to note that while snake bites are frightening, not all of them are venomous. For instance, most Colubrid snakes don’t have venom that can damage humans. There are exceptions to this such as twig snakes, boomslang and Japanese garter snakes. American garter snakes, rat snakes and a few others are perfectly harmless to humans, though it may still hurt a little if you’re bitten by one.
So, which snakes are poisonous? Snakes that are part of the elapid family are dangerous – this includes cobras, coral snakes, Australian elapids, death adders and tiger snakes. Snakes in the viper family are also venomous, like rattlesnakes, Russell’s viper and Gaboon viper. This is not an exhaustive list, just a few examples.
Snakes can have different kinds of venom that will do different things to a human being. Some of the different types of venom include:
- Haemorrhagins – this type of venom interrupts the blood vessels from working
- Anti clotting agents – as the name suggests, this stops the blood in the body from clotting
- Cytotoxins – this results in tissue injuries and swelling in the site of the bite
- Neurotoxins – this venom will paralyze or otherwise damage parts of the nervous system
- Myotoxins – these break the muscles down.
Symptoms of Snake Bites
If you’re in an area that’s populated by snakes, it’s very important to know how to identify symptoms that you have been bitten by snakes. Now, symptoms can vary depending on the type of snake and the venom produced – some symptoms may be as simple as a mere puncture wound, whereas others can be much more serious. You also may not get severe symptoms immediately after being bitten, since it can take some time for the venom to kick in.
There are a few key things to look out for:
- Swelling, bleeding or blistering in the location of the bite.
- Issues with the nervous system, including blurred vision, speech issues, feeling numb and having difficulty with breathing.
- Puncture wounds on the location of the bite – there will usually be two of them
- Feeling pain in the location of the bite
- Nausea and vomiting
You can also expect different symptoms depending on what kind of snake has bitten you. For instance, a rattlesnake bite may cause you to feel thirsty, could cause you to have lower blood pressure and may result in your eyelids drooping as a response to the venom in your body. If a copperhead bit you, your skin could change color and you may go into shock.
First Aid for Snake Bites
If you or someone you’re with has been bitten by a snake, it’s important to act fast and do the right things. There are some things that you definitely want to avoid – the movies can sometimes lie:
- Don’t wrap the snake bite into a tournique
- Do not attempt to suck the venom out of the bite
- Don’t try to open up the bite location using a knife or any other kind of sharp object.
Instead, you will first need to call 911 so you can get professional medical help. Check the time – you will need to know when the bite occurred in order to get the most effective treatment.
If you were bitten, it’s also incredibly important to keep as still as possible. Movement can result in the venom travelling quickly through the body, and that’s something that you need to avoid. Make sure that you get rid of any clothing that may constrict the wound, and do not walk. If the person injured by the bite needs to move from one place to another, you should either carry them or put them into a vehicle to be transported. In addition to this, it’s very important that you don’t try to go back to kill or injure the snake – the last thing you need is another injury on your hands.
From there, allow the medical professionals to handle the rest of the treatment.
How to Prevent Getting Bitten by Snakes
Prevention is key when it comes to snake bites. There are a few things that you can do to avoid snake bites.
First of all, don’t attempt to handle the snake or tease it. If you encounter a snake, it’s always best to give it a chance to escape and don’t try to provoke it. If you’re hiking outdoors in an area with a lot of snakes, make sure you wear some boots and long pants, as this can decrease the severity of the wound if you are bitten.
Most importantly, if you are likely to be around snakes a lot, either for your job or for leisure activities, it’s imperative that you plan in advance just in case. Knowing about different snakes and types of venom can help you to get the right treatment from a medical team if you are bitten. Knowledge is power, especially in this situation.
While snake bites can be frightening, understanding them can be incredibly beneficial for helping you to avoid injury and to help you to get treatment if you are ever bitten by a snake. Having this kind of knowledge may just save your life or someone else’s.