If there was a court for snake bite offenses, I’m sure the snake’s defense would be: Your honor, they threatened me. I was snoozing under the bush when he kicked the ball right into my head, then came over and seemed like he was going to smash me with that ball again. I had no choice!
Snakes aren’t out seeking to bite us according to all snake experts I’ve heard, or read. However, you threaten or surprise them, then well… See you in the ER–or the morgue if you delay seeking help and/or the snake is venomous. Be aware that lack of poisonous venom doesn’t necessarily make the bite less life threatening. Why take the chance?
But, if the venomous snake is poisonous, a bite means complications. Bleeding from any cuts could become dangerous as the venom causes blood clotting problems. The venom could cause tissue/flesh around the bite to die, leaving an unsightly reminder. And, the one most of us have heard: nerve damage which could result in conditions such as paralysis.
No, this isn't a colorful rope
This link , from the University of Pittsburgh, provides names, classifications, and pictures of snakes in North America. Most importantly, the site identifies the venomous species. The pictures help if you want to know what specific snakes known to your area look like, or if you’re wondering if the snake you’ve seen has been ID’d correctly. It isn’t much good if all you have is a description of the snake.
You’re in luck, though, if you live in Texas, Oklahoma or Kansas. There’s an app for that. While you can’t yet snap a shot of the creature and have these apps ID it, the TXSnakes, OKSnakes, KSSnakes apps lets users search for every snake species in that state. Users can also search by region, county, pattern, venomous and non-venomous species. The app includes details on each snake, as well as photos to help identify the biter. Jeremy Weaver, a Texas Tech herpetology (meaning he’s an expert in snakes) graduate student, invented all three apps, which sell for .99.
Another great thing about the apps–neither cell phone signals or internet connections are necessary to use them.
These apps sound great, but don’t take it as a license to get close to a snake. Any bite you get will likely cause extreme discomfort and unsightly swelling. Swelling that lasts a while. That isn’t pretty. And hurts a lot.
Don't do it, Rover! Run!
Best advice: If it isn’t violating your space, leave the snake alone. Whatever it’s doing, avoid approaching it unless you know how to handle it or plan to dispatch it to snake heaven. According to experts, a snake can strike the distance as much as 2 1/2 times the length of its body. I’ve witnessed this with a relative who believes the “only good snake is a dead snake.” He saw a snake under the bushes and called for a hoe. I think the snake heard him because it started to slither away. Did he let it go on its way? No, he chopped at it and got the tail. Pissed off snake whirled around with a quickness and lunged at its attacker. Said snake only missed the attacker because part of its tail was missing, but it came mighty close. The snake might even have gotten him if he hadn’t had the presence of mind to jump back and bring down the hoe at the same time. Headless snakes are less dangerous.
Here are some tips to avoid bites as much as possible. Be aware as you go out your door and while in the yard. If you’ll be walking outside, especially in tall grass or brush, wear boots or at least closed toes shoes and long pants. Better yet, stay out of tall grass, brush, bushes or clumps of leaves. Stomp the ground as you approach any of these type places as the vibrations will annoy the snake enough to make it slither away. If you’re out walking, take a stick and occasionally beat the ground. Also use the stick to carefully move the grass/brush aside (Use a long reach for this. Remember: long striking distance; doesn’t like surprise or threat.) Don’t go to known snake hangouts (i.e. water, boulders, logs, etc.) And, for heaven’s sake, don’t reach into dark holes/places. Even if the winning lottery ticket is in there, stand back and poke around first. Be ready to sprint some distance just in case something slithers out or strikes.
Do I really need to tell you not to go near or touch any snake that you see? Rumor is that even a dead one might have one last bite in it. Some kind of last bite reflex . Gotcha! And afterwards, you don’t even get the pleasure of slaying it.
But if you do get bitten, there’s and iPad/iPod/iPhone app–a free one–from the University of Maryland to input injury description for a general diagnosis and advice. It also includes the ability to get information on other health ailments (i.e. disease, nutrition, etc.), but we’re talking snakes here. Although, I think the best advice I read for the most appropriate reaction to a snake bite: make bitee comfortable and use cell phone to call 911. If there’s no cell phone, get the patient to the hospital stat!
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