Exploring the wilderness is a wonderful way to relax and become one with nature. It can also be an extremely dangerous pastime as you walk through a treacherous terrain where it is easy to lose your way, and filled with wild animals. When you are in the woods, you must keep in mind that you are traveling through the animal’s territory. It’s their home and we should all respect it. Therefore, when you choose to hike in an area that is known for snakes, don’t be surprised if you come across one. What would you do if you encountered a snake and it wasn’t so friendly, maybe even aggressive, so aggressive you were attacked and bitten?
First, Don’t Panic
Out of the 3,000 known snake species in the world, less than 10% have a bite that is truly venomous. So, there is a good chance that the snake that bit you wasn’t poisonous. On the other hand, that less than 10% amount still leaves a few hundred varieties that could be dangerous.
It is always best to prevent a snakebite from happening before you go out hiking. You can do this by wearing heavy boots that cover your ankles, watch your step in tall grass, and be careful when reaching underneath rocks or piles of wood where snakes tend to hide.
If you are bitten by a snake, stay calm. When you begin to panic after a bite, your heart rate elevates and the increase of blood flow will promote the absorption of venom, which puts you at a greater risk of developing a serious or fatal injury.
The Top 5 Deadliest Snakes in North America
- Also known as a water moccasin or a water pit viper
- A strong swimmer and is located throughout the Southeastern United States
- You can also find them on the remote islands of the Gulf of Mexico
- Has powerful cytotoxic venom that can eat away flesh leading to amputations if the victim survives
- They often hide in water and attack when you least expect it
- Timber Rattlesnake
- Large with long fangs and potent venom
- They can pump a large amount of their venom into prey at once
- They have a mild temperament and a well-known rattle warning
- Timber rattlesnakes are the most patient of their kind and give lengthy warnings that let you know to stay away
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- Black Diamond Rattlesnake
- Has 7 different sub-species
- Can have highly toxic venom that attacks the nerve endings
- Their venom requires a very high dosage of antivenom
- Found throughout the western half of North America
- Tiger Rattlesnake
- Earned its name because of its pattern of vertical stripes
- It has the smallest head of any rattlesnake
- Has very potent venom that by the amount of toxicity, makes it the most dangerous of all snakes in the Western Hemisphere
- However, it only injects a small amount of venom per bite, making fatalities from a Tiger Rattlesnake bite rare.
- Located in a small area near the Arizona/Mexico border.
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- Responsible for a large majority of bites in the U.S.
- They tend to freeze when they approach a human, instead of fleeing like other snakes
- They will bite when stepped on
- Copperheads have the weakest venom potency of all pit vipers, yet their bites can still be very dangerous if left untreated.
- Found in the Southeastern part of the U.S. among other areas.
4 Steps to take when bit by a Venomous Snakebite
- Be sure to make note of the snake’s color, it’s size, shape, and pattern, but only if you can do so safely. If you can, take a picture of it so that you can show a doctor or other medical staff the type of snake it is.
- Remove anything you are wearing that could constrict blood flow to the bite area such as tight clothing, jewelry, or shoes.
- Clean the area using water and bandage it with any sanitary material to help reduce the bleeding. However, avoid tourniquets, ice packs, or any suction devices. And do not consume any caffeine or alcohol.
- Get medical assistance as soon as possible while you keep the affected area immobile and elevated above your heart.
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Hopefully, you will never need these tips for your adventures in the wilderness, but it can be easy to accidentally tread in an area known for snakes. Always be cautious and do some research on the top venomous snakes located in your area.