Rattlesnake Information

SYMPTOMS: If a rattlesnake does inject venom into a victim, a variety of symptoms develop. Most bite victims experience some or many of the following:

Swelling, pain and bleeding at the site of the bite, sweating, chills, dizziness, weakness, numbness or tingling of the mouth or tongue, changes in the heart rate and blood pressure, salivation, thirst, swollen eyelids, blurred vision, muscle spasms, unconsciousness, improper blood clotting ability

TREATMENT: All rattlesnake bites need treatment. Serious bites are life threatening.

INITIAL FIRST AID: Because most Californians live in rattlesnake country, every family member should be made aware of the following snakebite emergency plan of action. If you are less than one hour from the nearest hospital emergency room, initial treatment is relatively simple:

  1. DO try to calm the victim
  2. DO gently wash the bite area with soap and water
  3. DO remove any watches, rings, etc. which may constrict swelling
  4. DO apply a cold, wet cloth over the bite if possible
  5. DO transport safely to the nearest emergency facility for further treatment. If possible move transportation to the victim, not the victim to transportation.

There are also several "DO NOTs" to remember:

  1. DO NOT apply a tourniquet
  2. DO NOT pack the bite area in ice or ice water
  3. DO NOT cut the wound with a knife or razor
  4. DO NOT suck out the venom by mouth
  5. DO NOT let the victim drink alcohol

Rattlesnakes and Pets

Your dog or cat if bitten will suffer many of the same symptoms as people and treatment is considered to be an emergency. The same do and don't list applies to dogs and cats. Vaccination treatment is available for dogs. Dr. Greg Anderson at Calaveras Veterinary Clinic in Milpitas (408 262 7200) reports the vaccine will lessen the severity of the bite but it still requires prompt emergency treatment.