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How to avoid & treat rattlesnake bites

Rattlesnakes are not generally aggressive and will try to avoid humans when possible. Rattlesnakes strike when threatened or deliberately provoked, but given room they will retreat.

Most snake bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing. The majority of snakebites occur on the hands, feet and ankles.

Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors. About 25 percent of the bites are “dry,” meaning no venom was injected, but the bites still require medical treatment.

Depending on weather and threatening conditions such wildfires; rattlesnakes may roam at any time of the day or night. If walking at night, be sure to use a flashlight.

To avoid rattlesnake bites some safety precautions will help:

  • Wear appropriate over-the-ankle hiking boots, thick socks, and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.
  • When hiking, stick to well-used trails if all possible. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day. Look at your feet to watch where you step and do not put your foot in or near a crevice where you cannot see.
  • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark.
  • If a fallen tree or large rock is in your path, step up on to it instead of over it, as there might be a snake on the other side.
  • Be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood.
  • Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
  • Do not turn over rocks or logs. If you must move a rock or log, use gloves and roll it toward you, giving anything beneath it the opportunity to escape in the opposite direction.
  • Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
  • Avoid approaching any snake you cannot positively identify as a safe species.
  • If you hear the warning rattle, move away from the area and do not make sudden or threatening movements in the direction of the snake.
  • Remember rattlesnakes do not always rattle before they strike!
  • Do not handle a freshly killed snake – it can still inject venom.
  • Even a baby rattlesnake can inject venom – leave them alone!

First Aid

If bitten by a rattlesnake DO NOT:

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