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What to do when a Rattle Snake Strikes

Idaho Fish & Game Writer: Adare Evens

Idaho- Rattlesnakes are found across most of Idaho. Although most are docile, you need to remember that rattlesnakes may be living where you are enjoying the outdoors. To avoid being bitten, be alert to your surroundings. Listen for rattlesnakes making their warning sounds. If you hear a rattlesnake, you are too close and should move away from the sound. Be mindful of where you are stepping or sitting, and never reach under a rock with your hand. If you must move a rock, use a
sturdy stick. Never try to grab a rattlesnake or any snake! Most snakebites happen because someone surprised the snake, harassed it, or tried to pick it up. The snake was just trying to protect itself. Leave the snake alone and it will be happy to do the same.


Have you ever heard that a baby rattlesnake’s bite is worse than an adult’s bite? Well, here are some things to consider. Many factors contribute to the severity of a snakebite and the results it has on a victim. Baby rattlesnakes usually have venom that contains more fast acting neurotoxins. This is because they tend to eat faster prey, like lizards. Fast-acting venoms will subdue prey before they run too far away. Larger rattlesnakes eat larger prey, like ground squirrels. Larger prey will take longer for a snake to digest, so their venom usually contains more digestive enzymes. Baby rattlesnakes’ venom might be more potent for subduing prey, but neurotoxins usually don’t cause a lot of pain. Adults produce, store, and inject 20 to 50 times more venom because of their size. They are also injecting venom that contains more painful hemotoxins. Any rattlesnake that is stepped on or feels threatened is likely to wallop the victim with venom. Whether from a baby or adult, a
rattlesnake bite is something you would not want to experience!

If you or someone you are with is bitten by a rattlesnake, here are some things to remember.
• Move away from the snake to keep it from striking again.
• Do not try to kill the snake to take it to the emergency room.
• If you have cell service, call 911.
• Get medical attention as soon as possible. Time is critical.
• Stay calm and try to keep the victim calm and quiet. Use a splint to prevent the bitten limb from moving. Movement will increase blood flow and spread the venom       more quickly.
• Do not try to suck out the venom, put a tourniquet above the bite site or make cuts over the bite. It will not stop the spread of the venom; it will only make things worse.
• Try to keep the bite below the level of the heart.
• Make sure there is nothing tight around the bite area as it swells. Remove rings and bracelets if the person is bitten on the hand. Although you need to be mindful of rattlesnakes when out enjoying nature, rattlesnake bites are rare in Idaho. They won’t come out of a hiding spot to attack you. You may even walk right by one without even knowing it


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