Animal bites basics: Dealing with venomous snake bites

Snake bites require proper first aid care. Even a bite from a harmless snake is considered serious which can lead to an infection or allergic reaction. As for snake bites from the venomous species, it can trigger a variety of symptoms that necessitate medical care.

How to identify venomous snakes

If you are not familiar with the various types of snakes and could not distinguish between the venomous and non-venomous type, it can be hard to know how to respond in case of snake bites. Remember that all snake bites must be treated as a venomous one.

When identifying snake bites, the following general symptoms must be considered:

  • Redness and swelling around the bite site
  • 2 puncture wounds
    snake-bites

    If you are not familiar with the various types of snakes and could not distinguish between the venomous and non-venomous type, it can be hard to know how to respond in case of snake bites.

  • Pain at the bite site
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Salivating and sweating
  • Numbness in the limbs and face

Some venomous snakes can cause specific symptoms.

Rattlesnakes

The symptoms of rattlesnake bites arise abruptly and include:

  • Drooping eyelids
  • Intense pain
  • Thirst
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness

Copperheads

  • Changes in the skin color
  • Immediate pain
  • Shock
  • Weakness
  • Low blood pressure

Cottonmouths or water moccasins

  • Shock
  • Skin color changes
  • Immediate pain
  • Weakness
  • Low blood pressure

Coral snakes

  • Convulsions
  • Delayed pain
  • Symptoms that arise hours after being bitten
  • Headache
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Stomach pain
  • Skin color changes
  • Shock
  • Paralysis

First aid for snake bites

If bitten by a snake, it is vital to seek emergency treatment right away. Nevertheless, there are measures that must be considered:

  • Call for emergency assistance right away
  • Note down the time of the bite
  • Calm the individual and minimize movement to prevent the venom from spreading throughout the body
  • Loosen any constricting clothing or jewelry since the area around the bite site will swell
  • Do not allow the individual to walk. The individual should be carried or transported by a vehicle.
  • Do not attempt to kill or handle the snake.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on snake bites is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage snake bites by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.

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