Well, they strike fear in our hearts. They keep a lot of people from on the trails. I have seen them on our trails and you will too! They are mysterious, misunderstood, dangerous, and demand respect. Hollywood has done a lot to instill rattlesnake fear in us. What more can I say, except they are out there and we need to be careful. Let me tell you some facts and figures and what to do in the unlikely event you are bitten. Ouch!!
•About 7-8000 people get bitten by a rattlesnake in the U.S annually and less than 10 of those die. More people die from wasp and bee stings than from snakebites.
•Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and do not want to get in your way. The rattle as a warning “˜Don’t come any closer’
•Rattlesnakes are cold-blooded and have a temperature range of around 70-85 degrees. They will die if they stay in the sun to long.
•The most venomous rattlesnake in the US is the Mohave Rattlesnake and yes, it is found in Southern California although rarely.
•Only 25% of rattlesnake bites result in envenomation, they are ‘dry’ bites.
•A rattlesnake can strike a distance of roughly two-thirds of there size. Keep your distance. Note: They do not have to be coiled up to strike!
•They are deaf and detect their prey by feeling vibrations stomp your feet!
Here are the Do’s and Don’ts.
DON’T put your hands of feet anywhere you cannot see. Be aware and have a ‘walking stick’ with you to make vibrations as you walk.
If bitten, STAY CALM as you do not want the venom to speed thru your system. Keep the bite area lower than the heart. There will be pain and swelling in the area of the bite. If the bite is not followed by severe continual pain, it is probably not venomous; a dry bite.
General symptoms are rapid pulse and difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, vision problems, progressive general weakness. Not all the symptoms need be present.
CALL FOR HELP or send someone. The faster you get to the anti-venom the better. Do not use anything that will thin the blood as you want to contain the venom. If the victim has to walk out, sit calmly for 20-30 minutes to let the venom localize at the site, proceed calmly to the nearest source of help and try to avoid unnecessary exertion, which will stimulate circulation of the poison.
DO NOT cut the bite. DO NOT apply a tourniquet. NEVER try to suck out the venom by mouth or with a suction kit. DO NOT apply cold and/or ice packs.
AND, DO NOT try and handle the snake. Most bites occur when people think they are Jeff Corwin!
Be Careful. From the Heart, Maggie