Rattlesnake Bite – Identification and Treatment Guide

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Rattlesnake BiteA rattlesnake bite is perhaps one of the scariest snake bites in the world. In fact, rattlesnakes are almost seen as the pitbulls of the snake world. Being afraid of a rattlesnake bite is just normal, as a rattlesnake bite can be fatal enough kill a grown man and even big animals like a wolf or a coyote in some cases. So what then can be done if one gets bitten by a rattlesnake? How to identify the snake and the bite and how to treat it?

Rattlesnake Bite – How to Identify a Rattlesnake Bite?

Snake bites can look like a dog bite or even a spider bite, depending on the size of the snake that made the bite. If the snake is still very small and young, the bite can look like a bite from a wolf spider, and if the snake is a grown one, the bite can easily look like a dog bite. It is therefore very important to get a look of the animal that inflicted the bite to ensure that it’s a rattlesnake bite.

Rattlesnake and Rattlesnake Bite Identification Guide

What is a rattlesnake? A rattlesnake is a venomous snake under the category of pit vipers or crotalinae. Pit vipers hunt their prey by sensing their body heat by heat sensitive organs they have between the eyes. Upon sensing the prey, the hunting continues by biting and injecting the prey with venom first and then ingesting the prey starting with the head. A typical rattlesnake will eat rats, mice, and other small animals like birds.
Where to find rattlesnakes? Rattlesnakes can be found on almost any habitat that supports cold blooded animals. However, the most common areas to find rattlesnakes are rocky areas with mild weather. Rattlesnakes are found in both south and north America.
How to identify a rattlesnake? The easiest way to identify a rattlesnake is by their rattle. The tip of a rattlesnake’s tail has a rattle-like organ that makes a certain rattling sound. In some species, the sound is so loud that it is really difficult to ignore it or not be aware of it at all. The rattling sound is supposedly made by the snake either to warn other animals or to deter its predators.
How does a rattlesnake bite look like? A rattlesnake bite looks like two fang marks alongside each other. It basically looks like two holes or puncture wounds on the skin.
Is a rattlesnake bite fatal? Rattlesnake bites can be fatal, but only in rare cases. Although rattlesnakes have venom which paralyze the prey and damage the tissue of the animals that are bitten, large animals seldom die from the bite alone, more so if they receive immediate treatment. Hundreds of thousands of rattlesnake bite occur yearly in the United States but less than 10 deaths occur from all those bites. With immediate treatment, the degree of damage that the rattlesnake venom produces can be greatly reduced.

Rattlesnake Bite – Symptoms

Sometimes, a rattlesnake can bite without injecting venom. They have the capability of injecting venom via one fang only, not injecting venom at all, or controlling the amount of injected venom. If a rattling sound has been heard or if the snake possesses a rattle, the following symptoms may be present:

  • A puncture wound or a pair of puncture wounds
  • Numbness surrounding the area of the puncture wound
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration or a change in appearance of the skin around the bite.
  • Difficulty of breathing
  • Dizziness, nausea, or a feeling of being light-headed
  • Pain with burning or tingling sensation in the area around the puncture.

Rattlesnake Bite – First Aid and Treatment Guide

Once bitten by a rattlesnake, a prompt emergent and calm response is needed. The following are the steps on how to handle a rattlesnake bite.

Rattlesnake Bite – 6 Steps for First aid and Treatment

1. Once a person has been bitten by a rattlesnake or any other snake, the best initial thing to do is to move away at least 5 yards or 15 feet away from it to prevent recurrent bites. Calm the victim down.
2. Call for emergency medical transport as soon as possible.
3. Remove clothing which can restrict the victim’s movement. This also helps for the next steps. Remove rings and bracelets as well because bitten extremities will swell up.
4. Make sure to immobilize or splint the bitten area. This reduces the blood flow in the bitten area and prevents the fast spread of the venom. The bitten part should never be placed higher than the victim’s heart to slow down the spread of the venom. Do not ever attempt to suck the venom out or apply a tourniquet.
5. Keep the victim calm all throughout the 5 steps until they reach the hospital. Slowing the heart rate is the key for ensuring that the venom does not spread all throughout the body. The best way to help the victim of a rattlesnake bite is a calm responder who can keep the victim calm as well.
6. Once available, an antivenin should be given to the victim of the rattlesnake bite.

Rattlesnake Bite – Bites of Wisdom

While awareness of identification and treatment of a rattlesnake bite is important, the most important thing of all is prevention. Most bites occur in grassy or rocky areas. Individuals who are traveling or hiking through areas where rattlesnakes are known to be present should be alert and always have a walking stick. If a rattlesnake is heard or sighted, the best thing to do is avoid the snake to avoid being bitten.

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