Snake time is upon us! Summer means that rattle snakes are active and pose a risk. Fortunately, Rattlers are mainly nocturnal, but encounters can happen at any time. Habitats such as rocks, logs, junk piles, and bushes or grasses offer cover for Rattlers. Expect to see them in these obvious areas and you will avoid getting bitten. Wear clothing that will help protect from serious bites.
The venom of a Rattlesnake can kill a large animal or human. Each year, around 8,000 people get bit and less than a dozen dies. There can be permanent scars and damage. The bite will contain venom and digestive juices. The Juices immediately begin to break down the skin and muscle tissues.
Here are some Snake thoughts to remember!
Do not suck out the poison or cut the wound open. Do not use a tourniquet. Research shows that this only causes more trauma.
Mark the bite site with a pen or marker. Record the time of the bite on the skin. Check for multiple bites
The best tool for first aid is your cell phone and car keys. Immediately call/ go for help. It takes 20-30 minutes to mix and prepare the antivenom. Give the hospital a heads up. In severe cases, an ambulance or Life Flight can be met.
Big snakes make the worst bites. Be snake aware of the dangerous snakes in your area. You need to make an identification. Take a quick picture with the cell phone. Leave the snake alone. In Montana for example, the only venomous snakes are rattlers. No need to catch them.
Leave room for the bite area to swell. Loosen clothing and remove any jewelry from around the bite site. Wash and clean the bite site with soap and water.
Bite location will determine the risk. Face, arteries, and depth of the bite will cause more severe reactions. Multiple snake bites are also a problem. This can occur when in a snake den.
Minimal pain to the victim means that the nervous system is shutting down. Rattlesnake neurotoxin venom causes swelling, numbness, and paralysis. Time is an issue. Monitor for shock and breathing.
Some bites are called Dry Bites. The snake may inject less venom and more digestive juice. This is still painful, but the neuro issues will be less, but the scaring could be worse.
The same first aid applies for pets and animals. Time is essential and bite location is critical. Get the pet to an emergency vet asap! If the venom is minimal, antibiotics may do the trick.
There are also some interesting facts about Rattlesnakes that are of concern. For some reason, Rattlers are beginning to have atrophied tails which do not rattle. These snakes now have lost their defensive warning and become more aggressive. Scientists do not know why but probably will blame it on Global Warming.
Snake antivenom, known as CROFAB, takes an interesting journey to get to the hospitals. Live Rattlers are milked in Salt Lake City. The venom is then sent to Great Britain where the proteins are extracted. These are then sent to Australia to be injected into sheep. The blood of the sheep is then sent to Baltimore, Maryland where the antivenom is processed and distributed. The antivenom has a shelf life of one year. No wonder it costs so much.
Perhaps the best Snake advice is to be aware and prepared to deal with this issue when in Snake Country.