Talking About Snake Bites: What can we learn from Mexico and Canada?

Reason snakes bites are currently on the rise in these US states

Teacher Training Notice:  The Occupy Mars Learning Adventures Team will receive emergency training for dealing with snake bites.  “We have to be ready for all situations when working on our space geology teams.” Said team leader, Bob Barboza.   We are going to include this training in all of our Jr. medical space medicine programs.

1200px-Crotalus_cerastes_mesquite_springs_CA.JPG
X

Taking a trip to the South? Well watch out for snakes. Snake bites in Georgia are up 40 percent this year according to the Georgia Poison Control Center.

South Carolina is also reporting a 30 percent increase this year.

While North Carolina saw a notable spike in bites – receiving 71 calls in April 2017 compared to only 19 calls the year before according to WRAL.

A doctor with the Georgia center told WSB-TV that the first call to come in this year was the first week of January – breaking previous records.

They are blaming the increase on a short and mild winter.

According to a study released late 2016 – when it comes to snakebites in people 18 and under – Florida and Texas have the highest rates of snakebites – with Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia, not far behind.

If bit by a snake – The Mayo Clinic suggests calling 9-1-1- immediately – removing jewelry and or tight clothing in case you start to swell and positioning yourself so the bite is below or level of your heart.

Guide to Snakes Part 1: Know Thine Enemy

You and your buddies are out on a camping trip reconnecting with nature and your masculinity. You’re taking a day hike to see some ancient Indian hieroglyphics, when all of sudden you feel the acute pain of two razor sharp fangs entering your flesh. You’ve just been bitten by a snake. Do you know what to do?

Just the sight of a slithering snake can send a shiver down even the manliest spine. And with good reason-with just one nibble, and in only a few hours, these feetless, cold-blooded serpents can snuff out your life. While only 9-15 people in the United States die every year from snake bites, if you don’t know how to treat them correctly, you or your loved one could become part of those statistics. Knowing how to deal with snakes and snakebites is essential man knowledge.

The best way to “treat” a snakebite is to avoid getting bitten in the first place. So in Part 1 of the Art of Manliness’ Guide to Snakes, we’ll give you a dossier on all the bad boys you need to look out for.

In Part 2, we’ll discuss ways to avoid becoming some snake’s snack and how to treat a bite if you do get bitten.

Know Your Enemy

If you were a Boy Scout, you were probably taught an old mnemonic to help you identify venomous snakes:

Red and black, friend of Jack. Red and yellow, kill a fellow.

Or in other words, if a snake has adjacent red and black colors on its skin, it’s not venomous. If red and yellow are adjacent, that snake is venomous.
But as a man, you’re past simple maxims. You want to know how to identify and name a snake. You want to know the habits of your nemeses. So, here’s a description of the various poisonous snakes found in North America and around the world.

Coral Snake

Know Thine Enemy: Coral snakes are easy to spot by their distinctive coloring. They have alternating, red, yellow, and black bands. Did you get that? Red and yellow are touching each other, meaning this bad boy is poisonous. Be on the look out. There are counterfeit corals that have alternating red, black, and yellow bands. These aren’t poisonous.
Coral snakes are shorter than other venomous snakes. They average about 40 inches and have smaller mouths and fangs.

Their hideout: Corals are found in the southern and eastern United States, and in other places around the world. They can usually be found slithering in dry areas with lots of shrubs. They frequently spend their time underground or buried under leaf litter, and don’t pop out to say hello very often. You’ll see them most frequently after it rains or during breeding season. There are also some aquatic species that loiter in your favorite swimming hole.

How mean are they? They’re not aggressive or prone to biting, but if they do bite-watch out. Their venom takes longer to deliver, so when they bite, they hold on and won’t let go.

Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnakes are easy to identify because, well, they have a rattle at the end of their tail. When threatened, the rattlesnake shakes its rattle as a warning to his would-be nemeses. Luckily for us, it’s a pretty damn loud warning; its peak frequency is equivalent to that of an ambulance siren. Did you ever wonder what a rattlesnake’s rattle was made of? Yeah? Me too. It’s basically composed of modified scales that slough off from the tail. Each time a rattlesnake sheds its skin, a new segment is added. When the snake shakes its tail in the air, the segments rattle against each other. Contrary to popular belief you can’t tell a rattlesnake’s age from counting the number of rattle segments; while they do add more segments on a regular basis, they also lose them during travels. Word of warning: if the rattle gets soaked from wet weather, it will no longer emit its noisy warning. So tread lightly in those conditions.

Several varieties of rattlesnakes exist and their habitats range from Canada to South America. The diamondback rattlesnake, the mojave rattlesnake, the sidewinder rattlesnake, and the timber rattlesnake are three species common to the United States

The Diamondback Rattlesnake

Know Thine Enemy: The different species of rattlesnakes have varied colorings, but all can be identified by their skin’s telltale diamond pattern. Most diamondbacks are about 3.5-5.5 feet long, although the Eastern diamondbacks, the biggest of the bunch, have been found in the 7 ft range.

Their hideout: Diamondbacks are generally found along the southern border of the United States, from Florida to Baja California and into Mexico. Rattlesnakes like to sun themselves and come out in the early morning or afternoon to bask in the sun’s rays. You therefore often find them sunning themselves on rocky ledges. While not typically adept climbers, species like the eastern diamond back have been found 32 ft off the ground. Some are excellent swimmers as well; eastern diamondbacks slither for miles in-between islands in the Florida Keys.

How mean are they? Some diamondbacks will retreat if given a chance. But often they will stand their ground and may strike repeatedly. They can strike from a distance up to 2/3 their body size and strike faster then the human eye can see, so stay as far away as possible. They have some of the fiercest venom of any snake; victims can die within hours of being bitten.

The Mojave Rattlesnake

Know Thine Enemy: Generally 3-4.5 ft long, it has grayish diamond shape markings on its back like the diamondback, but it’s overall coloration is more green than brown.

Their hideout: The mojave rattlesnake primarily lives in the desert of the southwestern United States, so be on the look out for it when you’re riding a burro down the Grand Canyon.They are common in wide expanses of desert and can often be found near scrub brush. They hibernate during the winter.

How mean are they? Although there isn’t scientific date to back it up, mojaves have a reputation for being quite aggressive, especially towards people.

The Sidewinder Rattlesnake

Know Thine Enemy: The sidewinder gets its name from its trademark sideways locomotion. The reason they do this is to reduce the amount of contact they have with the hot desert sands and to increase their movement’s efficiency. Just watching this thing move puts you on notice that it’s a killing machine. Smaller than its rattling cousins, the sidewinder usually is 1.5-2 feet long. The sidewinder is light in color with darker bands on its back. In addition to its trippy sideways movement, evolution has given the sidewinder another killer advantage: it can survive in the desert without a single drop of water. They get all the water they need from the prey they devour. That’s right. When a sidewinder sees you walking along, you’re not only lunch, but also a canteen. Watch out.

Their hideout: These snakes can be found in the desert of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. During the cooler months (about December to February) the sidewinder is nocturnal. They are diurnal the rest of the year.

How mean are they? Their venom is weaker than their cousins, but still can cause a serious health threat. Tread lightly.

Timber Rattlesnake

Know Thine Enemy: Timber rattlesnakes have a yellow, brown, and rust orange coloring and are typically 3-4 ft in length. The timber rattler was immortalized during the American Revolution where it served as the symbol in the “Don’t Tread on Me Flag.” It also serves as the First Navy Jack.

Their hideout: Unlike many of its rattlesnake cousins who live in the deserts of the West, the timber rattlesnake is found in the eastern United States; it’s the only rattlesnake to make its home in the Northeast.

How mean are they? Timber rattlers are a much mellower breed of rattlesnakes, so they don’t bite too often. And they tend to rattle a lot before striking, giving you time to hightail it out of there.

Cottonmouth Snakes

Know Thine Enemy: The Cottonmouth is one scary snake. No one wants to see it slithering toward them at their favorite watering hole. Cottonmouth snakes are usually around 2 ft in length, although some have grown to a size of nearly 6 ft. Their brown, gray, tan, yellowish olive or blackish coloring, is segmented by dark crossbands. When threatened, cottonmouths will throw their head back and open their mouth wide, displaying the white interior from whence it derives the name “cottonmouth.”

Their hideout: The cottonmouth is an aquatic snake found in the south and southeast part of the United States. Cottonmouths make creeks, streams, marshes, and lakes their home, although they can also be found on dry land. Because of their affinity to water, cottonmouths are also known as water moccasins. Cottonmouths can be active during the day and night. But when it’s hot, they are usually found coiled or stretched out in the shade.

How mean are they? Despite their vicious reputation, in many cases the cottonmouth’s hiss is worse than its bite. Cottonmouths often engage in a showy threat display without attacking. This routine includes shaking their tail and letting a musky secretion rip from their anal glands. The scent of this snake fart has been compared to that of a billy goat; so if you smell goat, flee in the other direction.

Copperhead Snakes

Know Thine Enemy: Copperhead snakes are identified by their coppery colored head and neck. Adults reach lengths of 2 to 4 feet.

Their hideout: Copperheads are mainly found in the eastern part of the U.S. They make forest and woodlands their home. However, they do prefer to live closer to water.

How mean are they? Copperheads will only bite if they feel directly threatened, i.e., if you try to pick up or touch them. But this contact can happen inadvertently. Unlike many venomous snakes that usually slither away when humans are around, copperheads will freeze in place, often resulting in humans stepping on them and getting bitten. A bite from a copperhead is extremely painful but is not fatal if treated properly.

Cobras

Cobras are probably the most famous of all the venomous snakes, thanks in part to Johnny and the gang at Cobra Kai Dojo in the Karate Kid. (I hate Johnny. What a prick.) Several species of cobras exist. What they all have in common is the distinct “hood” they make when they are threatened. In order to create this distinct cobra hood, cobras will flatten their body by spreading their ribs.

The King Cobra

Know Thine Enemy: The King Cobra is the world’s longest venomous snake, growing to a length of between 12 and 13 feet Wowza! Their olive green, tan, or black skin has pale yellow cross bands down the length of the body.

Their hideout: King Cobras are found in South and Southeast Asia. They can also be found in some parts of India. King Cobras typically live in dense highland forests near rivers and streams.

How mean are they? The King Cobra is one scary mother. The King Cobra doesn’t just feed on small rodents, this bad boy is cannibalistic- it eats other snakes. While the King Cobra is shy, it will attack if it is provoked. The venom from a King Cobra consists of extremely potent neurotoxins that attack the victim’s central nervous system. A single bite from a King Cobra can kill a full grown Asian Elephant. It can kill a man in half an hour.

The Red Spitting Cobra

Know Thine Enemy: Red Spitting Cobras vary in color from red to gray. They can grow to about 4 feet in length. What makes this cobra unique is its ability to “spit” or project their venom at their prey. Watch out!

Their hideout: Red Spitting Cobras are native to Africa are most common in that continent’s northeast region. They make their homes in brush and forests. The red spitting cobra is nocturnal, so make sure you zip up your tent!

How mean are they? Like the King Cobra, the Red Spitting Cobra is a timid and shy snake and will only attack when threatened. Unlike the King Cobra with its ultra toxic venom, the Red Spitting Cobra’s venom is much milder. While it may cause extreme sickness, a bite from a Red Spitting Cobra will probably not cause death. However, if the venom gets in your eyes and is not treated quickly, it can cause blindness so still take caution.

The Black Mamba Snake

Know Thine Enemy: The black mamba is the largest and most deadly snake in Africa. It also happens to be the fastest moving snake in the world. In short, this snake is a killing machine. The Black Mamba gets its name not from the fact that it has black skin, but because it is black on the inside of its mouth. The skin of a black mamba is actually gray to olive green. Black mambas can grow to a length of between 7 and 13 feet.

Their hideout: Black mambas make their home in the grasslands of Africa. You can find them primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

How mean are they? Black Mambas are mean mothers. They will readily attack when threatened. They’ll make multiple attacks, aiming at the head and body. With each bite, they inject their super deadly venom. One bite from a black mamba has enough venom to kill 120-140 men. The venom paralyzes the muscles used for breathing and the victim consequently dies from suffocation.

An important note: While all this “enemy” language is in good fun, snakes actually play a vital role in our ecosystem. Without them, vermin and critters of many kinds would overrun us. These tips should help you avoid snakes, not seek them out for destruction. Unless it’s a do or die situation, leave the snake alone and move in the other direction.

Guide To Snakes Part 2: How To Avoid & Treat A Snakebite

man getting bit by snake in the face

Yesterday, in Part 1 of the Art of Manliness’ Guide to Snakes, we discussed how to identify various poisonous serpents. But knowing your enemy is only half the battle. You should also know how to avoid being bitten and what to do if you are. Therefore, today in Part 2 we present more necessary man vs. snake knowledge: how to avoid and treat a snakebite.

How to Avoid a Snake Bite

While the behavior of snakes is obviously not 100% predictable, you can minimize your chances of being bitten by taking several basic precautions. If you want to avoid being at the receiving end of a pair of venomous fangs, follow these simple guidelines while out romping in the wilderness:

Avoid tall grass. Many of the snakes mentioned in Part 1 of this post like to hang out in grassy areas and heavy underbrush. If you can, stick to the trails so you can clearly see what you’re stepping on. If you have to go off trail, be attentive lest you inadvertently step on a sleeping rattlesnake. If you must venture through tall grass, carry a stick and use it to probe the ground in front of you. And remember, there are always exceptions to the rule; a snake could very well be curled up in the middle of a well groomed trail. Always be aware of your surroundings.

Remember that snakes can climb. While they’re not squirrels, snakes can slither up trees and bushes. Most people never imagine they’ll see a snake at eye level, and are thus quite vulnerable to an aerial attack. The last thing you want is to feel that forked tongue on your face, so keep your wits about you.

Check before you stick your hand into a crevasse. Because snakes are pure evil, they like to hang out in the dark. Holes, a hollow log, or a crevasse in a rock are perfect places for a snake to hide. So before you go sticking your hand in any dark hole, check to make sure there isn’t a snake (or another critter) in there.

Zombie snake attack. Say you find a dead snake that you want to take and turn into a pair of snakeskin boots. Right on. But be careful when picking it up. Freshly dead snakes still have reflexes and can still bite you if you’re not careful. I’ve seen a dead snake slither around firsthand. It’s really creepy. Plus, many snakes are pretty sloth-like during the daytime. And they’re quite skillful at keeping completely still; it’s how they catch their prey. So a snake sunning himself may look good and dead, but may very well be sleeping with one beady eye open, its little reptilian brain thinking, “Just try it buddy.”

Don’t sleep in the enemy’s lair. Most snakes are nocturnal, so you don’t want to let down your guard come sunset. Don’t make your camp in snake territory. Avoid sleeping near a log or large branch, in tall grass, or next to rocky areas. And of course zip up your tent tight. Snakes may have those fierce fangs, but alas, they lack an opposable thumb. Keep your boots inside the tent (most tents come with shoe pockets) and make sure to zip the tent up again in the morning, lest a snake invite himself in while you’re on a hike.

Wear heavy boots and pants. If you’re going to be out exploring in the uncivilized wilderness, make sure your lower extremities are protected. Heavy boots and pants not only protect against fierce snakes but also your ankle’s other nemesis-ticks.

keenan thompson snakes on a plane

Bonus Tip: Always Check The Overhead Compartment For Snakes

The Do’s and Don’ts of How to Treat a Snake Bite

man getting bit by snake on the hand

No amount of precaution can prevent every bite. Sometimes accidents happen. And if it does happen, it’s important for you to immediately know what to do. Don’t be caught with a snakebite in the middle of the woods, scratching your head trying to remember this stuff; sear it into your brain. Getting bitten by a venomous snake is serious business. While the reactions vary from snake to snake, all venom is essentially designed to immobilize the victim and start the process of digestion. Venom is basically toxic snake saliva, ready to turn you into dinner. So if you’re bitten, seek medical attention immediately, even if you don’t think the snake is poisonous. Better to be safe than sorry.

Do:

1. Wash the bite with soap and water as soon as possible. You want to remove as much of the snake’s spit as you can.

2. Keep the bitten area below the heart. This is done to slow the flow of the venom.

3. Take off any rings or watches. The venom is going to make you swell, and jewelry might cut off your circulation.

4. Tightly wrap a bandage two to four inches above the bite. If you can’t reach medical care within 30 minutes, wrap a bandage around the bitten appendage. This is to assist in reducing the flow of venom. You want to make it tight, but not too tight as to completely cut off the appendage’s circulation. That will only cause tissue damage.

5. If you have a snake bite kit, place the suction device over the bite to help draw the venom out of the wound. Leave on for a maximum of ten minutes. If used properly, a suction device can remove up to 30% of the venom.

 

Interesting Fact: “Antivenin” is made by first milking a snake’s fangs for its venom and then injecting a non-lethal dose of that venin into a horse. The horse naturally builds up antibodies to the venom. Its blood is then collected and the antibodies are extracted and made into antivenin for humans. Cool.

 

 

Don’t:

1. Cut the wound. While watching an old Western, you might have seen a cowboy making an incision above the snakebite in order to “drain” the venom. This isn’t a smart move because you increase the chances of causing an infection in the area.

2. Suck the venom. Another remedy we all have seen in the movies is people sucking the venom out with their mouth. You don’t want the venom in your mouth where it can get back into your bloodstream.

3. Apply ice to the wound. Ice can cause tissue and skin damage and inhibits the removal of venom when using a suction device.

4. Panic. If you’ve been bitten, try to avoid freaking out. If you’re with someone who has been bitten, try to keep them calm. The more you move and the faster your heart beats, the quicker the venom is going to be circulated throughout your body. So do your best to stay calm and remain as still as humanely possible.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: