How to Treat a Rattlesnake Bite

Rattlesnakes account for more venomous snake bites in the USA than any other snakes combined.

Rattlesnake bites account for an overwhelming amount of the venomous bites that occur in the Unites States, as they are the most prevalent venomous snakes and are found in all but three states in the USA (Maine, Alaska, and Hawaii). If you are one of the unlucky 8000 victims of rattlesnake snake bites that occur each year in the U.S. it will be very important that you know how to treat a rattlesnake bite and what to do to minimize the effects as they can be lifelong and even life threatening if not taken care of correctly.

There are several things you should do if bitten by a rattlesnake or other venomous snake that can lessen the severity of the toxic effects that snake venom has on the body. Likewise there are many things that you should not do, many of which have been said to be beneficial in the past that have since been proven wrong. Always aim at doing first aid if you are not in a position to treat the bite.

How to Treat a Rattlesnake Bite:

  1. Get away from the snake! Obviously the last thing you want is to get bit twice.
  2. Stay calm! Letting your adrenalin get the best of you is a good way to get your heart beat up and increase the rate of the venom spreading.
  3. If you can get help to your position without moving very far, then lay down with the bite area lower than the heart and call for help by dialing 911 or the appropriate medical emergency contact.
  4. If you need to get to an area where you can contact emergency services, do so while immobilizing the area of the bite with a splint to reduce the movement of the affected area.
  5. Remove rings and bracelets that may get in the way of swelling.Place a band about two inches both above and below the bite with it snug to slow the spreading of the venom. Do not make it so tight as to restrict blood flow as this can make things worse.
  6. If possible, it is advised to wash the bite area with soap and water.
  7. Seek medical care as soon as possible to get the antivenins. If the person bit must walk a ways to get help, it is wise to rest for up 10-20 minutes in order to allow the venom to localize and not spread throughout the body.

How to NOT Treat a Rattlesnake Bite:

This is what a rattlesnake bite can look like 8 days a bite. The venom deteriorates the flesh. Protect yourself with the equipment listed below.

  1. Sucking Venom out is said to not be much help. Definitely do not suck venom out of another person as this is a possible way of transmitting bacteria and causing infection, make a poisonous snake bit much worse.
  2. Icing and cooling a rattlesnake bite is not suggested and is said to make the damaging effects even worse.
  3. Do not cut the bite what so ever, as this can cause tissue damage and lead to quicker spreading of the venom, and again enhances the chances of infection.
  4. Do not but a constricting band directly over the bite in a tourniquet like fashion. Blood flow is essential and lack of could result in loss of an extremity.

Rattlesnake Bite Prevention

While it is always good to know how to treat a rattlesnake bite, the best thing you can do is avoid getting bit all together. The most definite thing you can do is avoid poisonous snake territory. Of course, this is not always that easy.

A good way to prevent rattle snake bites is to wear snake protective gear. Snake protection comes in many different forms, and what is best for you will vary with your situation. The most popular types of snake protective gear include (click on link to learn more): Snake Gaiters, Snake Boots, Snake Chaps, and Snake Gloves.  These items not only provide protection from rattlesnake bites (all venomous snakes), but also provide a person with piece of mind for themselves and their family.


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