The Critters That Both Create Fear And Yet Still Fascinate Us Are Coming Back...
Despite activities like ours that we can enjoy all year round. When the warmer months come awareness is heightened to natures many Eco-systems in the involvement of snakes. Now there is little need for too much concern of panic but awareness of your surroundings and habits of these creatures should be another tool in your cap of knowledge if not fascination of these most often misunderstood creatures.
Depending on where you might find yourself to be geo-located in North America, there is some arguments as to just how many snake species and where you may find them more prevalent. In my findings, I was left with the impression that there may be 71 species of snakes in the Eastern portions of North America and approximately 139 species in the Western part of the states.
There are four different species of "poisonous" snakes in North America which seem to split off into 15 different named venomous snakes. Through these species are listed as Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, Coral Snakes, and the Cottonmouth Moccasins. It is important to note, if not clarify, that snakes are technically not poisonous. Venom itself is injected, and poison is thereby ingested which makes snakes only "venomous" or "non-venomous". Unfortunately like many portions of our American language, people and now of course search engines routinely use the term "poisonous" or "non-poisonous" to describe snakes incorrectly. Since we are more apt to sticking with correct terminology for the sake of educating others and not looking for extreme exposure of appeasing the search engines directly, we will be using the correct terminology for the benefit of all and being better for it.
If you're local to us here in Nevada, 52 species of snakes and lizards live among us. Of these, only 12 are considered venomous and of that only 6 can be dangerous to people and pets. Chances of coming across one is slim due to their nature and body camouflage which is their first defense in evading predators. Should you see one, consider yourself fortunate.
Snakes require the warmth to survive their environments making them ectothermic, meaning their body temperatures increase or decrease in response to their surrounding environment. Snakes will seek shelter from direct sunlight on hotter days under rocks and bushes and even in caves and burrows of other animals. At night, when it is cooler, snakes become active hunting their prey.
As we mentioned above, keeping aware of your surroundings is key. While out on the back roads or even hiking trails, stick to areas where the ground is clear so you can be mindful of where you're stepping. Realizing it may not always be the best conditions to be wearing long pants ourselves climate wise but they and hiking boots offer some protection as to walking around brush or rocks. Its best to not reach into cracks in rocks, animal burrows or under bushes. If you must move rocks or brush, again for added protection wear gloves.
Other things to keep in the forefront of your mind is being aware of where you sit especially in shady areas. Minimize having to walk around at night or sleep on the ground - snakes are most active at night so if you are using a ground tent. Do make sure that you zipper them or seal them properly to avoid adding any additional unwanted bunk mates on your adventures. Consider the use of an above ground cot alone or in conjunction of an IBN S styled tent that works on top of a cot.
Don't tease, kill, or handle a rattlesnake. There is a misconception that baby Rattlers and Vipers cant control their bites and venom flow and its based upon a partial truth. The reality is that mature animals have and generally cause worse bites. The above misinformation stems from the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake; and studies have indicated that the baby westerners have a different blend of venom from the parental versions. Based upon that study its been noted that drop for drop, some components of the venom are present in higher concentration of venom from baby snakes than adults.
This does not mean baby snakes are more dangerous, quite the opposite! For the same amount of trouble found in the blood, a mature snakes bite may cause a much worse injury due to a much larger dosage of venom involved. It is also very important to remember that rattlesnakes do not always rattle their tails in warning and a rattle does not always precede a strike.
Should you encounter a snake, don't panic or runaway blindly. Look carefully where you are going and step away from the immediate area with caution. If you become unfortunate enough to suffer a bite. The most important first-aid tip is to get to the nearest hospital and contact the local poison control in your area en route. Do not try any other First-aid methods because they are often useless and may cause more harm.
Keeping calm, put a safe distance between you and the snake as a snake can often strike to a distance up to two-thirds of its body length. Loosen or remove any restrictive and tight clothing, jewelry, watches, or rings. Keep the bite area loosely immobilized and level with the heart. If you are within cellular range, call for help.
The relevance of identifying the snake itself is not worth capturing or trying to kill the snake for identification purposes. In most cases like Rattlesnakes, there is a single effective anti-venom solution for all rattlesnake bites. Most bites occur on the lower extremities, feet and lower legs. However, bites can occur on upper extremities like hands and arms when or if someone is interacting with a rattlesnake itself.
Other words of caution to note, don't use a tourniquet when or if bit. Venom circulates through the lymphatic system, rendering the use of a tourniquet as useless. The process is very slow, which is why a victim has some time to get medical assistance. The majority of damage is or has happened at the site of the initial bite, don't risk further damages there. There is also a greater risk of or the possible introduction of ischemic injury due to the lack of blood flow.
Also, the Hollywood enactment of being successful in sucking the venom out of a bite is perhaps the most exploited myth of all told. -- following a bite, venom is not sitting in a pooled up sense under the skin. it is rapidly dissecting through tissues and entering the lymphatic circular system. Any suction device whether mechanical or by use of your mouth, less than 1% of the venom from that bite can be removed. Less or other than loosening of tight clothing and the removal of jewelry due to swelling issues, there is nothing that can help the situation prior to actual hospitalization.
We hope you find this article informative and helpful on your adventures. Have you ever been bitten by a snake? What were the procedures taken in your situation? Tell us and others your experience in the comments below.