Snakes are the most recent
group of reptiles to appear, probably evolving from lizards
or lizardlike animals about 100 million years ago, toward
the end of the Mesozoic era.
Snakes only strike when they
feel they are in danger or they are trapped
and there is no way out except to attack. Most of the
time, people are bitten when they try to catch, kill a
snake or they disturb it not knowing that there is a snake
close. The best action to take if you come across a snake
is to slowly and quietly move away leaving
a passage for it to escape. There are few things that
can prevent your encounter with a snake.
Take good care if you are in
a snake's territory. Firewood, holes
and under the rocks are the same places that
snakes consider home. Snakes are always blended into their
territory. Particularly, you should be very cautious near
sources of water. Some snakes hunt in or near
water. Stay out of tall grass, underbrush, abandoned buildings
or foundations. Piles of logs, rocks, and branches if you
should move any or take some out of them -> investigate
them first with a long stick or hiking stick
and make sure you are far away enough if a snake rises between
Look at where you sit
and step carefully. Don't reach into holes and crevices
or jump over logs and fences without being able to see what
you're getting into and where you will put your foot in
your next step. When turning logs and rocks, pull them toward
you first, so you won't be in the escape path of any startled
snakes. If you are lifting something, roll it towards you
before lifting it and never put your hand under it. Snakes
always take them as a shelter in daylight. Remember, if
you see a snake, there may be more nearby and sometime bigger.
Don't touch any snake, even if you think it is dead some
of them are extremely silent and very fast. Even a cut off
head is still in a position to bite even 24h later (as a
Do not depend on a hearing - the warning always depends
on your sight. Snakes don't always hiss and rattle snakes
don't always rattle. Most snakes give no warning at all
before attacking. Wear boots and long
pants when hiking in snake territory and it is better
to have long sleeves too. Always hike with a companion.
Use a flashlight and wear boots outdoors after
dark, especially during the hottest months. By that time
reptiles avoid daytime heat and sun and are more active
at night. See that your yard, sidewalks, and patio have
plenty of light.
If anyone was ever
attacked by a snake what should you do?
Figure of Constricting Band Properly Applied
- Move the casualty
away from (the snake) danger.
- Calm and reassure
the casualty, keep them lying down, quiet, and warm. Do
not give the casualty anything to eat or drink.
- Immobilize the casualty's
affected extremity, keeping the area below the level of
- Remove jewelry from
affected area, unless the casualty objects.
- Apply a constricting
band (belt, necktie) 2 to 4 inches above the fang marks
as in the Fig. between the bite and the heart. It should
be tight enough to stop the flow of blood in the veins
but not through the arteries (not a tourniquet). Adjust
the band as swelling occurs. Never place a band around
a joint, the head, neck, or chest.
- Suction the bite
over the fang marks, using an extractor from a snakebite
kit. Suction by mouth is recommended only as a last resort.
Suction after 30 minutes is ineffective, the venom
has already diffused.
- Monitor the airway,
breathing, and circulation (ABCs).
- Treat for shock.
- Never apply ice
to afflicted area.
- Contact nearest medical
facility, if possible, so that the proper antivenom can
be made available.
- Transport the casualty
(and the dead snake if any) as soon as possible (never
chase a snake to kill it).
For a detailled treatment in case
of a bite have a look at www.surgery.ucsd.edu.