Rattlesnakes are native to every state in the United States except Hawaii, Maine, and Alaska. The name rattlesnake is derived from the titular noisemaker at the end of the snake’s tail. When the snake shakes its tail, the characteristic rattle sound is emitted. It uses the sound to warn predators and passersby to stay away.
Though their usual habitat is desert areas, they can also be found in mountainous terrain and woodlands. Preferring to hunt during the night, days are commonly used to seek shade. They stick close to areas where they can easily hide and shelter such as under fallen logs, near soil or places where there is the dense brush.
Rattlesnakes ordinarily leave humans alone unless they feel that they are threatened. They will usually strike when they are either startled or agitated.
Most bites occur during the summer months when it warms up, and animals and humans are out and about. Hikers and other outdoor loving people will usually hear the rattle but there are those who unwittingly walk into the rattlesnake’s nest.
Rattlesnakes will occasionally sun themselves in the middle of a trail. So hidden places are not the only place that they can be encountered.
Hikers are advised to exercise caution even when they find a dead rattlesnake as the head can still see, flick the tongue and give venomous bites up to an hour after the head has been severed from the body.
Caution should be taken while walking through densely wooded areas, under leaves or in tall grass. This is where the snakes love to while their time away during the day.
Statistics suggest that there are more male victims of rattlesnake bites than female. Many men when attacked are usually inebriated.
The rattlesnake bite is venomous. The venom itself is hemotoxic. Components that damage tissue destroy blood cells and skin tissues and often causing internal hemorrhage.
Rattlesnake venom is composed of 5-15 enzymes. The poison is designed to immobilize prey as well as break down tissue for ingestion later on.
One of the components in the venom can also cause severe paralysis.
Older snakes possess more potent venom while larger snakes can store higher amounts of it.
Signs of A Rattlesnake Bite
• One or two perforation marks
• Pain, tingling or burning in the section of the bite
• Inflammation at the area of the bite
• lacerations and discoloration at the site of the bite
• Nausea, weakness and dizziness.
• Breathing difficulties.
• Heart failure
• Kidney and nerve damage that could lead to numbness, seizures and muscle spasms.
What To Do If You Are Bitten By A Rattlesnake
Move away from the snake immediately. Put a distance of 15-20 feet away from the snake. If the snake continues feeling threatened, it can strike again.
Call for help. It is important to access medical care the soonest possible. As you wait for help. You should do the following:
• Remain calm. Around 25-50% of rattlesnake bites are “dry” bites meaning that the snake did not inject any venom when the fang pierced the skin.
• Wash the snake bite with soap and water.
• Being anxious will cause your heartbeat to accelerate speeding up the spread of the venom rapidly throughout your body.
• Remove restrictive clothing for example rings, watches bracelets that may hinder your blood flow.
• Keep the bitten area at a level lower than the heart. If the bitten area is placed at a level higher than the heart, the venom will quickly make its way to the heart.
• Keep the person who has been bitten immobile. Movement quickens blood flow around the body. This, in turn, will hasten the flow of the venom through the body.
• If the snake is still around, try to get a record of it by using a camera available. If not, try to remember how the snake looks like. Key features of note are color, length, and appearance.
• Tie a sling or splint around the bitten limb. This will help the member to stay motionless slowing down the flow of venom.
The 6 Don’t’s Of Treating A Rattlesnake Bite
• Do not make any cuts on the bite. Though popular, cutting the bite can release the venom. It could also cause infection to the bite if done with a contaminated knife or piercing instrument.
• Do not tie a tourniquet around the affected area as it will cut off blood supply from the rest of the body. This will, in turn, concentrate all the venom in one place.
• Do not try to suck out the poison as it will spread in your mouth. Our mouths also contain bacteria which if introduced into the bite could cause infection in the wound. However, you can use a pump suction devise and proceed to suck out the poison.
• Do not immerse the wounded part in water. Also do not apply ice. It is critical to preserving the unaffected tissue. Application of water or ice is detrimental because it reduces the blood flow to the affected part.
• Do not urinate on the snake bite. As ridiculous as this may sound, a popular myth has it that urine can help neutralize the venom. Common sense should prevail.
• Do not give the victim something to eat or drink while waiting for the medics. Included are medication and alcohol. The metabolic rate should be kept low.
• Do not give electric shocks. This technique is still under research and has not proven to be effective and could be harmful.
• After getting to the hospital, you will receive an anti-venom that will neutralize the poison in your body.
Tips To Stay Safe
• Refrain from placing your hand or leg under stones or holes. They may be habitations of snakes.
• Take note that snakes can seek refuge under leaves, in thick bushes or even swim in water.
• If going hiking, consider wearing boots and not open shoes
• If you should meet snakes, be calm, and do not agitate it. Stay away from snakes and do not attempt to handle them.
Suffering a rattlesnake bite does not mean it should be fatal though the rattlesnake is highly poisonous.
It is, however, fundamental to implement the pointers mentioned above to remain alive and reduce the effects of the venom.