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What to do if you get a snake bite —The do’s & don’t’s

Rattlesnake Bite

Have you ever seen a scenet in a movie where someone gets bitten by a snake and one of their buddies decides to try to be the hero and suck the venom out of the snake bit? Well that is a big no no! Don’t worry this is why I am writing this article. To let people know what to do if you get a snake bite. This article will be about the do’s and don’t’s when it comes to snake bite.

An estimate of about five million people worldwide are bitten by snakes every year, and as many as 125,000 bites are fatal. However, in the United States, only 7,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes each year, and  only five to six of those bites are fatal. Throughout the world, most bites are associated with farming and food production. Not surprisingly, most bites in the United States are the result of intentional contact with a snake, whether captive ie: pet snakes or in the wild.

There are many doctors that are becoming more familiar with how to treat snakebite emergencies, it’s also a good idea for all of us to have a working knowledge of which snakes are poisonous, what happens in the body when one is bitten, and what kinds of treatment options, including antivenoms, that are available these days. Always treat a snake bite as a venomous snake bite.

Most snakes in the U.S. are not venomous, several types are venomous. In the U.S., all of the venomous snakes, are pit vipers except the coral snake species. Pit vipers are distinguished by a noticeable depression between the eye and nostril. This pit is the heat-sensing area for the snake. While all pit vipers have a triangular head, not all snakes with a triangular head are venomous.

To identify a snake bite, you will want to keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • 2 small puncture woundsSnake Bite
  • Difficulty breating
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Swelling and pain at the spot of the bite
  • Numbness in your limbs and face
  • Blurred vision
  • Salivating and sweatin


This is why snake venom is dangerous

Snake venoms are made up of various types of proteins that work in different ways throughout the body. The North American pit vipers’ venom damages the lining of blood vessels and lymphatic system which would include the lymph nodes, spleen, and bone marrow. Venom varies a lot among species, even within a species, venom can be very different depending on where the snake is geographically, how old the snake is, what season of the year it is, and other factors like genes.

Almost every type of organ in the snake bite victim is affected by some component of the venom. Some venoms can be categorized as mainly effecting the heart, nervous system, muscle, etc., it’s not terribly accurate to say that a particular venom falls into just one of these categories because there is so much overlap.

What happens right after the bite

Just in case you were wondering, yes, there is a certain amount of pain involved in a venomous snake bite. Pain from the bite of a pit viper is almost immediate and is often described as an intense stinging sensation or a blow from a hammer. Up to a quarter of pit viper bites are dry, no amount of venom is injected into the victim. The effects of venom vary depending on the situation, and can range from minimal to severe. The effects can remain local, spread throughout the body and/or present themselves as problems with the way the blood clots. The chart below

Severity Chart

First Aid Do’s

If you ever get bitten by a snake, it’s very important that you get emergency treatment as quickly as possible. However, there are some tips that you should also keep in mind:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency service immediately.Call 911
  • Remember the time of the bite.
  • Keep calm and try to stay still cause movement can cause the venom to travel more quickly through the body.
  • Remove any tight clothing or jewelry because the area surrounding the bite will swell.
  • Do not let the victim walk. Carry or transport them by vehicle.
  • Do not kill or try to handle the snake. Take a picture if you can but don’t waste time trying to find it.


First Aid Dont’s

There are several outdated first aid techniques that are not believed to be helpful or may even be harmful:

  • Do not do a tourniquet.Do Not cut at the Bite.
  • Do not try to cut into the snake bite.
  • Do not use a cold compress on the bite.
  • Do not let the person take any medications unless directed by a doctor.
  • Do not elevate the area of the bite above the victim’s heart.
  • Do not try to suck the venom out by mouth.
  • Do not use a pump suction device. They were formerly recommended for pumping out snake venom, but it’s now believed that they are likely to do harm rather than good.

Snake Bite Treatment

The most important thing to do for a snake bite is to get emergency help as soon as possible. A doctor will evaluate the victim to decide on a specific course of treatment. In some cases, a bite from a venomous snake is not life-threatening. The severity depends on the location of the bite and the age and health of the victim. If the bite is not serious, the doctor may simply clean the wound and give the victim a tetanus shot.

If the situation is life threatening, the doctor may give the victim an antivenom. This is a substance created with snake venom to counter the snake bite symptoms. It’s injected into the victim. The sooner the antivenom is used, the more likely it will help the victim.

Snake Bite Prevention

Snake bites can be prevented in many cases. It’s best to not to approach or handle snakes in the wild. Avoid typical places where snakes like to hide, like patches of tall grass and piled leaves, and rock and woodpiles. If you encounter a snake, give it space to retreat and let it take cover. It’s in the snake’s nature to avoid interaction. When working outside where snakes may be in the area, wear tall boots, long pants, and leather gloves. Avoid working outside during the night and in warmer weather, which is when snakes are most active, cause they like to hunt at night and bask in the sun when it’s warm out.

To sum it all up DO NOT mess with snakes, because if you decide you want to play around with a snake you could end up going to the ER. In some cases it could be fatal. If you have any comments, questions or opinions please feel free to fill out the comment section out below







  1. CJ james

    If your are out in the middle of nowhere, without cell service or anyone who can help, are there any first aid treatments you can recommend?

    • Fred Prasun

      Thanks for your question. First thing you are going want to do is get far enough away from the site where the snake bit you at. Sit down and rest and calm yourself down so you can think clearly. Double check to see if you have cell service, if not you are going to want to think about the last spot you had service at, then slowly walk to where you remember having cell service at so you can call emergency services. Make sure you are not moving to fast cause the faster you move the faster your blood flows which in turn will make the venom move through your bday faster. Make sure you are staying hydrated along the way. I hope this answers your question. If you have any other questions or comments please let me know and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks again!

  2. Lee Ann M

    Thank you very much for this information.
    We have recently moved to a rural area with a creek in our back yard. I am deathly afraid of snakes and want to learn about which ones I need to worry about and what the poisonous ones will look like. For my daughter’s safety and my own safety .
    Do you have information on this that might help me out?
    I have seen 2 BIG BLACK snakes along our tree line. I am not sure if it left, because I high tailed it out of there. I was cutting grass. Needless to say, I made the husband finish cutting it.

    • Fred Prasun

      Thank you for comment. You are so welcome. This is why I do this, to help people like yourself. You are in luck I have another article on my website to help you with that, here is the link:

      Let me know if you have any questions or comments, just let me know and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks again!

  3. Alysanna

    I grew up in a farm and I remember very well when my uncle got bitten by a snake on his right leg. At that time I was only about 10 so I had no idea what to do. I saw my uncle rip his shirt and tied it tightly around his leg, just above the snake bite. He said this was to stop or prevent the venom from spreading into his body and vital organs as it can be fatal.

    But you said doing a tourniquet is a no-no. And I’m wondering why when this is one of the most traditional first aid remedies that I know. Anyway, my uncle survived the snake bite and since then he always wore long boots and made sure to have his knife with him whenever he goes out to the farm or goes on a hunting spree.

    • Fred Prasun

      Thanks for your comment. Well applying a tourniquet may have been advised back then, but it is not advised in this day in age. By applying a tourniquet, it could cause the venom to stay in that area instead of flowing through the body which could cause the antivenom from working, in turn could have caused a lost of limb. I hope this helps clarify why I said not to use a tourniquet. If you have any questions or comments, just let me know and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks again!

  4. Anna Reyes

    Hi Fred,
    This post is amazing and here is why. We are planning to move to Australia and snake issue was one of my biggest concerns. Where we live now you barely can see snakes just because it is very cold. Moreover I have never seen a snake before in wild, well, maybe a garden snake once. So as you can guess, I have limited knowledge regarding what to do it the snake bite happens.
    I read that there are a lot of snakes in Australia because of the climate. I would assume that you would not see one in a big city, but finding it in the park could be a possibility.
    Anyways it was great to find out what to do should something like that happens. I would honestly try to suck it as per those Hollywood movies. It was great to know that it is a big No No in that circumstances.
    That you again for the post and I will save it for future references.

    • Fred Prasun

      Thanks for your comment. Lucky you for being able to move to Australia! This is why I love doing what I do! Being able to help people like yourself get the information that you need to help keep you safe. I have a Facebook page that you could follow that I also put all of my articles and other information on. Here it is
      If you ever have any questions or comments just let me know and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks again!

  5. jackie thompson

    Great Advice. I dont ever want to get a snake bite but if I ever do I know what to do. Thank your for the educational information. I will be bookmarking your site you have a lot of great advice here.

    • Fred Prasun

      Thank you. I am glad that you think I have great advice. This is why I do what I do, so I can help people stay safe in the great outdoors. Thank you for bookmarking my site. If you ever have any questions or comments just let me know and I will get back to as soon as possible. Thanks again!

  6. Latricia Turner

    I am afraid of snakes. Especially the thought of snake bites, that frightens me. Now, that I am aware of the dos and donts of snake bites, I feel more comfortable about the subject as a whole. Sometimes, it is just knowing what to do. Thanks for the information.

    • Fred Prasun

      Thanks for reading! You are right knowing is often half the battle. I am glad that you feel more comfortable about what to do in case of a snake bite. If you have any other comments or questions just let me know and I will answer them the best that I can. Thanks again!

  7. Kertenia

    One thing I don’t like is a snake, and I hope I’m never bitten, but this a very informative article and would come in handy.

    • Fred Prasun

      Thanks for reading! I am the same way about snakes. I am glad that you can use the info that I provided. This is why I do what I do, so I can help keep people safe. If you have any questions in the future just let me know. Thanks again!

  8. Michael Kenny

    Hi. This is very interesting considering there are no snaked in Ireland but in the case when I do travel abroad, This is nice to know. Thanks for highlighting and sharing this. I keep all this in mind, thanks again

    • Fred Prasun

      Thanks for reading. This is one of the reasons why I do what I do, so people like yourself that live in an area without snakes know what to do when something like this happens when you are traveling abroad. If you ever have any questions, just let me know and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks again!


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