Clipped from rec.hunting. Lot of good advice.
What to do (and not do) when you see a snake
by Chad Minter
First, don't kill nonvenomous snakes. Any given area can only support a
fixed number of snakes. If you kill the nonvenomous snakes that leaves
food supply that could support a population of venomous snakes.
Remember to stay a safe distance from the snake. Snakes usually strike
1/2 their body length, but they can strike farther. You also don't want
trip and fall on the snake.
80% of bites occur when someone tries to catch or kill a snake. The
thing you can do if you see a snake is to leave it alone. (It's
protected by law anyway.)
85% of bites in the United States occur on the hand and forearm. 50%
a victim under the age of 20. 70% of bites in the United States involve
If you have a snake in your yard, either call someone trained in their
removal or stand at a safe distance and spray it with a garden hose.
hate that and will leave quickly.
Step on logs rather than over them. Snakes coil beside logs in the
Posture" and might mistake your leg for a predator or prey.
Watch where you put your hands and feet. Do not reach under boards with
Snakes can be handled safely with proper tools and training, but do NOT
trying to handle venomous snakes if you have not been professionally
trained. There are things that no website can teach you about how to
venomous snakes safely.
You can minimize the appeal of your yard to a snake by 1. cutting the
2. picking up debris, and 3. Controlling rodents. If there is no food
shelter the snake will soon leave for better hunting grounds.
The safest thing to do if you see a snake is to LEAVE IT ALONE. Most
occur when someone is attempting to capture or kill a snake.
Know which snakes are venomous in your area. If you are in the
US, take the "hot or not - is it venomous test" at
If you are bitten by a snake, seek immediate medical care from a
and experienced physician. According to the Centers for Disease
first aid for snakebite consists of:
"Do remain calm - Remember that there is an excellent chance for
and in most cases there is plenty of time.
Do suck and squeeze - as much venom as possible directly from the
Venom is protein and can be taken orally with no ill effects.
Do remove jewelry - Swelling can progress rapidly, so rings, watches
bracelets can be a real problem.
Do mark the time - The progress of symptoms (swelling) is the most
indicator of the amount of envenomation.
Do keep the stricken limb below the heart.
Do get to a hospital as quickly as possible - Anti-venom serum is the
sure cure for envenomation, and because some people are allergic to
serum it should only be given in a fully equipped medical facility.
In case of a Coral bite, do pull the snake off immediately - Corals'
are relatively small, and they have to work at getting venom into the
Therefore, the faster the snake is removed the less venom is injected.
Do attempt to identify the offending snake - Positive identification in
form of a dead snake is helpful, if convenient, but no time or safety
be wasted since the symptoms will give medical personnel an accurate
Do get a tetanus shot.
Don't cut the wound - This almost always causes more damage than it's
Don't use a tourniquet - This isolates the venom in a small area and
the digestive enzymes in the venom to concentrate the damage.
Don't use alcohol orally - it speeds the heart and blood flow and
the body's counter-acting ability.
Don't use ice - Freezing the stricken limb has been found to be a major
factor leading to amputation."
Remember, snakes have their place in the ecosystem and were around long
before we arrived. We are the visitors in their garden. Snakes are
capable of defending themselves, but are reluctant to do so. If you
few common sense rules you can minimize an already very small risk of
snakebite during your outdoor adventure.
Chad Minter is the author of Venomous Snakes of the Southeast and the
webmaster of http://www.envenomated.com
He spends most of his time finding and photographing venomous snakes in
their native habitat.