How to Survive a Poisonous Snake Attack
What should you do if you're bitten by a poisonous snake?
Because poisonous snakes can be difficult to identify--and because some non-poisonous snakes have markings very similar to venomous ones--the best way to avoid getting bitten is to leave all snakes alone.
Assume that a snake is venomous unless you know for certain that it is not.
But let's say you do get bitten.
How to Treat a Bite
1. Wash the bite with soap and water as soon as you can.
2. Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than heart level.
This will slow the flow of the venom throughout the circulatory system.
3. Get medical help as soon as possible.
You should have a doctor should treat all snakebites unless you are willing to bet your life that the offending snake is nonpoisonous.
Of about eight thousand venomous bites per year in the U.S., nine to fifteen victims are killed.
A bite from any type of poisonous snake should always be considered a medical emergency.
Even bites from nonpoisonous snakes should be treated professionally, as severe allergic reactions can occur.
Some Mojave rattlesnakes carry a neurotoxic venom that can affect the brain or spinal cord, causing paralysis.
So no matter what type of snake bites you, get medical help!
You never know how your body will react or what the markings on the snake actually signify.
4. Immediately wrap a bandage two to four inches above the bite to help slow the flow of the venom if you are unable to reach medical care within thirty minutes.
The bandage should not cut off blood flow from a vein or artery.
In addition, make the bandage loose enough for a finger to slip underneath.
5. I have a first aid kit equipped with a suction device, should I use it to help draw the venom out of the wound?
No, you should not use one of these devices.
We repeat, you should not use one of these devices.
Typically once thought of as a standard procedure when you receive a possibly venomous snake bite, the use of this device has been debunked.
Please watch this Tedx Talk by the brilliant herpetologist Jordan Benjamin, where he goes into detail on this very topic.
Moreover, we have an entire article written by Jordan Benjamin with respect to dealing with venomous snake bites which you can read here.
It goes into much greater detail, and we recommend reading it if you have the time.
What Not to Do
- Do not tie a bandage or a tourniquet too tightly. If used incorrectly, a tourniquet can cut blood blow completely and damage the limb.
- Do not make any incision on or around the wound in an attempt to remove the venom--there is danger of infection.
- Do not attempt to suck out the venom. You do not want it in your mouth, where it might enter your bloodstream.
How to Escape From a Python
Unlike poisonous snakes, pythons and boas kill their prey not through the injection of venom, but by constriction.
This gives credence to the naming of said snakes: constrictors.
A constrictor coils its body around its prey, squeezing it until the pressure is great enough to kill.
Since pythons and boas can grow to be nearly twenty feet long, they are fully capable of killing a grown person.
Small children are even more vulnerable.
The good news is that most pythons will strike and then try to get away, rather than consume a full-grown human.
But if you do get caught...
1. Remain Still
This will minimize constriction strength, but not totally, as a python usually continues constricting well after the prey is dead and not moving.
2. Try to control the python's head and try to unwrap the coils, starting from whichever end of the snake is within reach.
How to Avoid an Attack
- Do not try to get a closer look at a snake, prod it to make it move, or try to kill it.
- If you come across a snake, back away slowly and give it a wide berth: snakes can easily strike half their body length in an instant, and some species are six feet or longer.
- When hiking in an area with poisonous snakes, always wear thick leather boots and long pants.
- Keep to marked trails.
- Snakes are cold-blooded and need the sun to help regulate their body temperature. They are often found lying on warm rocks or in other sunny places.
Remember how Indiana Jones hated snakes?
Well, now you know why.
They're not something you should mess around with.
Again, we highly recommend you read this article here by Jordan Benjamin, which goes into much greater detail than we do.
He is truly an expert on this specific subject, after all.
The information presented to you here today is from Joshua Piven's book, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook - an excellent on-the-go addition to any hiking pack or bug-out-bag.
However, something like the SAS Survival Handbook will be more practical for everyday use while outdoors.
-Alexander @ Survival Cat
If you're gearing up for your next adventure, take a peek at our catalog and see if there is anything you'll need to accompany your travels.
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