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Rattle Snakes

Do you enjoy camping and hiking in the Southwestern US?
You should take a little time to get to know this creature - as you are spending time in this reptiles backyard.

Rattle snakes are most common out west - but can be found most anyplace!

There are sixteen kinds of rattlesnakes in North America plus a plethora of subspecies. Click on the name for information or photos of each species of snake.

Are you searching the grass for snakes yet? Checking for your snake bite kit? Thinking of canceling that desert camping trip?

Hold on!

Rattlesnakes deserve caution - but not the fear and loathing they generally get. With a few precautions and a bit of common sense you can safely hike in areas where rattlesnakes are common.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, about 8,000 people a year receive venomous bites in the United States, and only 9 to 15 victims die.

25% of adult Rattlesnake bites are dry, with no venom injected.

Rattlesnakes can only strike a distance equal to 1/2 their own length
This makes a bite easy to avoid as long as you stay away from 'em!

How to Prevent Rattlesnake Bites

The following tips should help keep you safe when travelling in snake country.
  • Always wear shoes or boots. Boots and long pants can provide you with a great deal of protection.

  • Use a flashlight at night to avoid stepping on snakes.

  • Do not place your hand on a rock ledge or outcropping above eye site that a snake may be resting on.

  • Be cautious when approaching rocks, bushes, or other objects where a snake may have sought out shade.

  • Set up your campsite in an open area.

  • Stay on trails - avoid walking in heavy underbrush.

  • If you hear a rattlesnake stay calm and try to locate the snake's postion. Move away slowly.

    Symptoms of a Rattlesnake Bite

    If you are unsure if you have been bitten, look for these signs and symptoms.
  • Puncture marks (one or two).

  • Swelling at the area of the bite.

  • Pain, tingling or burning at the area of the bite.

  • Bruising and/or discoloration at the site of the bite.

  • Nausea, weakness, and lightheadedness.

  • Difficulty breathing.

First Aid

The American Red Cross reccomends you take the following steps:
  • Wash the bite with clean water and soap.

  • Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the heart.

  • If the bite is on the hand or arm remove any rings, watches or tight clothing.

  • Seek immediate medical attention.

    If You find yourself more than 30 miles from immediate medical attention you may have to apply some more extreme first aid measures. The American Red Cross offers the following information - but reccomends you only take the following measures in a true emergency.

    • Wrap a bandage two to four inches above the bite. This may help slow venom. The bandage should not cut off blood flow from a vein or artery. The bandage should be loose enough to slip a finger beneath it.

    • A suction device may be placed over the bite to help draw venom out of the wound without making cuts. Suction instruments are often included in commercial snakebite kits.

    • Do NOT make an incision around or into the wound!

    Do not ever Pick up a venomous snake - even a dead one could give you a painful surprise because the venom is still there!

    Do not attempt to remove a rattlesnake from the area you are travelling in. This is the snake's home - not yours. If need be - move yourself or your tent on down the trail.
    75% of people are injured while trying to capture or kill snakes. It's a whole lot safer to let the snake have it's way!

    Some people like to eat rattlesnake - but I reccomend you stick with a dinner that won't bite back!