What to Do When You Spot a Venomous Snake at Home
Many people immediately attribute snakes to death because of their venom. While most of the snakes we encounter in gardens or bushes are not venomous, it can still be a frightening experience to be around them, especially if you just happen to stumble upon them in your yard randomly.
If you ever spot a venomous snake, don't panic! Here’s some information on what to do if you encounter snakes.
How Can I Tell If a Snake is Venomous?
Most of the snakes in the US are harmless. In fact, nonvenomous snakes can be great for the environment around you. For one, they can keep most harmful pests at bay. However, there are very few species of snakes in the US that are venomous.
They are categorized into two types: vipers and elapids. There are some ways to tell if a snake is venomous without knowing the specific species. But first, you have to know which snakes are prevalent in your area.
Pit vipers are identifiable by the large venom glands that give their heads a thick triangular appearance. This makes their head look very distinct from their neck. All snakes in the US with this head shape are venomous pit vipers.
Moreover, they got their names from their heat-sensing pits that look like a second nostril on their snout. They also have elliptical, “cat-like” pupils. Some common examples of pit vipers are cottonmouths, copperheads, and rattlesnakes.
Unlike vipers, elapids do not have thick heads or elliptical pupils. Instead, they look like nonvenomous snakes, with an oval head and round pupils. The coral snake is the only type of elapid found in the US. Fortunately, they are easy to spot because of their distinctive color. Coral snakes have a red-yellow-black pattern throughout its body. However, do not mistake it for its harmless colubrid lookalike. If it has a red-touches-black pattern, it won’t hurt you.
What Should I Do If I Encounter a Venomous Snake?
The best course of action is not to do anything and simply move away. Contrary to popular belief, snakes are not aggressive. They will not chase you down or try to attack and bite you. Snakes will only fight back if they sense that they are in trouble. So, do not scream or even try to kill it. You are more likely to get bitten if you act this way. Just call a wildlife professional in your area and let them take care of it.
In case you get bitten by a snake, immediately call 911. While waiting for the responders, move away from the snake and clean the bite with soap and water. Then, lay down and try to keep your breathing calm and steady. Clear the bite area of tight clothing or other accessories. If possible, take a picture of the snake so that they know what kind of antivenom to provide when you get to a hospital.
Also, do not copy what they do in the movies. Do not attempt to suck the venom out or wrap a tourniquet on or near the bite. These will only make the situation worse.
Snakes may appear out of nowhere, but there are ways to prevent them from invading your garden or yard. You have to remove any excess clutter around your home, keep the landscape well-manicured, and use a snake repellent. Also, avoid handling or playing with snakes unless you have been adequately trained. If you encounter one, it is still best to leave it to the experts to prevent emergencies.
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