Non-Venomous Snake Bite Symptoms

Non-venomous snakes are a lot more common than venomous snakes, and consequently their bites are a lot more common. So how exactly should we deal with it? Well, the answer is, unsurprisingly, not to freak out.

What are the non-venomous snake bite symptoms? When a non-venomous snake bites you, you will be left with about a half a dozen teeth imprints, some minor bleeding and swelling, and a small possibility of contracting any disease that the offending snake might have been carrying.

Symptoms and signs of non-venomous snake bites should be treated the same as venomous symptoms and include the following: 

  • Two puncture wounds
  • Swelling and redness around the wounds
  • Pain at the bite site
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating and salivating
  • Numbness in the face and limbs

Armed with the knowledge of these symptoms, some questions still remain. How should you treat a snake bite? How can you tell if the bite is really from a non-venomous snake? How can you avoid snake bites? And what diseases do you have the possibility of contracting?

The Symptoms

Non-venomous snakes have teeth instead of fangs. This means that when you are bitten by one, you will have the marks of about a dozen small, sharp teeth, not two puncture marks that are the classic marks of a poisonous snake bite.

Believe it or not, the sharpness of the teeth is a good thing. It’s always better to be cut with a sharp knife than a dull knife. It leaves a cleaner wound and leads to a quicker recovery.

Anytime you have an abrasion to your skin, you are going to bleed. Because the teeth of a non-venomous snake are so small, you won’t bleed too much. You will have some minor bleeding a possibly some bruising following the bite.

Unless you are consistently brushing your snake’s teeth (which I strongly advice against, by the way), your snake’s mouth with not be the model of cleanliness. This means that they could be carriers of a few diseases.

You will want to monitor the bite site and your health for up to a week after the initial bite to be sure that you have not contracted any of the following diseases.

Keep in mind, contracting any of these diseases from a bite from a pet snake is rare and unlikely. However, just keep your eye out, just to be safe.

Semi Coiled Rattle Snake Alert on Sand, Tongue Out. He’s venomous.

Which Snakes are Non-Venomous?

Some snakes are pit vipers, such as rattlesnakes, cottonmouths,coral snakes, and copperheads. We know these guys are ones we should look out for, but what about snakes that are non-venomous? Which snakes are more threatening without venom, and which are harmless?

All snake bites will be surprising, as snakes strike fast and bite when they feel threatened. When the initial shock wears off, which non-venomous snake bites need more attention?

Here is a list of some common, non-venomous snakes you may find in the wild or as a friend’s pet:

  • Garter Snakes
  • Corn Snake
  • Milk Snake
  • Rosy Boa
  • Ball Python
  • Kingsnakes
  • California Kingsnakes
  • Black Rat Snake
  • Pythons
  • Anacondas

There are a lot of variations and morphs within each of these species. However, the ones you want to look out for when it comes to bites are the bigger ones.

They might not have poisonous bites, but they do have little teeth, and occasionally these little teeth will chip off into your skin if they bite you. Snakes shed their teeth and regenerate them regularly, so this is nothing to worry about in regards to the snake.

The smaller snakes on that list, such as the corn snake and the ball python and garter snake, have tiny little teeth that probably won’t puncture the skin, and if they do, it is important to rinse the skin and disinfect the tiny puncture, and if it is necessary throw on a Band-Aid.

However, for the bigger snakes such as the anacondas (though it is unlikely you will suffer from a bite from these guys) or the kingsnakes or pythons, their teeth will be a little bigger and it is more likely that they will draw blood.

For a guide on how to care for a non-venomous snake bite, read on.

How Do I Treat a Non-Venomous Snake Bite?

If the snake isn’t letting go (which is common, as snakes lock their jaws on prey), push its head towards your wound before pulling the snake away so its curved teeth inflict less damage.

If the wound is small enough to treat yourself (ie: you don’t need stitches) follow the following steps as quickly as possible: 

#1. Rinse the wound with fresh, clean water. This is the key to cleaning, not the soap.

#2. Clean the wound with mild anti-bacterial soap. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide as it can cause damage to the healthy tissue needed to heal the wound. Also, avoid cleansers that contain alcohol because it can irritate the bite area.

#3. Dry the wound by blotting it with a soft, dry cloth or towel. Don’t use friction to dry the wound, or you could cause more damage and rip or irritate more skin.

#4. Don’t bandage the wound unless there is a risk of cross-contamination. Bandaging a wound makes the area dark, moist, and warm, which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

#5. If you’ve been bitten by a venomous snake or if the wound becomes infected forget everything I said and get yourself to a medical professional immediately!

Snake bites result in a long list of symptoms and there is an endless array of tips and tricks at our fingertips for identifying these symptoms, but those do little to help a bite victim if they don’t know how to treat the wound.

This process is actually relatively simple and straightforward since the process varies little from how you would treat any other cut or abrasion. 

Eastern montpellier snake ( Malpolon insignitus ), animal ready to bite.

What are Common Myths About Treating Snake Bites?

While non-venomous snake bites are relatively straightforward and require little steps to treat them, venomous snake bites are serious. They are uncommon, but if you are ever in a precarious situation when it comes to a snake bite in the wild that is probably venomous, please avoid doing these seven things:

  1. Do not use a tourniquet.
  2. Do not cut into the snake bite.
  3. Do not use a cold compress on the bite.
  4. Do not give the person any medications unless directed by a doctor.
  5. Do not raise the area of the bite above the victim’s heart.
  6. Do not attempt to suck the venom out by using your mouth.
  7. Do not use a pump suction device. These devices were formerly recommended for pumping out snake venom, but it’s now believed that they are more likely to harm than good.

When bitten by a venomous snake, a very quick guide to getting treatment is as follows:

  • Get out of the snake’s territory and away from danger.
  • Contact medical professionals (such as an ambulance).
  • If an ambulance is not available, get transport to a medical facility.
  • Move the bitten individual as little as possible.
  • Keep a level head and do not act rashly.
  • Remove jewelry, clothing, etc. in the vicinity of the snake bite.
  • Breathe evenly and get immediate medical attention.

How Do I Prevent Snake Bites?

Most snake bites are easy to avoid. Snakes, especially non-venomous snakes, are not looking for a human to bite. When we cross into their homes and they begin to feel threatened is when they tend to strike.

If you want to be extra cautious and avoid snake territory and snakes as much as you can in an effort to never experience even a non-venomous snake bite (uncommon though they may be), here are some tips:

  1. Avoid tall grass, piles of leaves, rocks, and wood.
  2. Remember that snakes can climb.
  3. Check before you stick your hand into a crevice.
  4. Don’t approach a snake. If you see one, give it space.
  5. Wear protective clothing such as long pants, boots, and leather gloves while out hiking or spelunking.
  6. Don’t go out at night in areas where snakes tend to be nocturnal and frequent visitors, according to locals or friends.

What Symptoms Are Snake-Specific?

Some snakes have more potent bites than others. There are many pit vipers, which are venomous snakes. Now that we have gone over non-venomous snakes and their bites, as well as how to treat those, here is a little guide to the symptoms involved in some venomous snake species’ bites.

Rattlesnake Venom Symptoms:

  • severe pain
  • drooping eyelids
  • low blood pressure
  • thirst
  • tiredness or muscle weakness

Cottonmouth Venom Symptoms:

  • immediate pain and symptoms
  • change in skin color
  • shock
  • low blood pressure
  • weakness

Copperhead Venom Symptoms:

  • immediate pain and symptoms
  • change in skin color
  • shock
  • low blood pressure
  • weakness

Coral Snake Venom Symptoms:

  • pain that is not immediate
  • symptoms that set in hours after the bite
  • convulsions
  • drooping eyelids
  • change in skin color
  • stomach pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • headache
  • shock
  • paralysis

Each snake is very different. While some of these snakes have more effectual venom and you will feel the symptoms immediately, others may take a while. Just remember. These little guys are not out hunting you. Give them their space, and they’ll give you yours, whether they be venomous snakes or not.

Salmonella from Snake Bites

Snakes eat raw meat, and that could lead to them being carries of salmonella, which comes from raw foods like eggs and meat (hence the thoroughly ignored warning against eating raw cookie dough). 

If you end up contracting salmonella from a snake bite, here a few of the symptoms you could experience:

  • cramps
  • diarrhea 
  • vomiting
  • fever

These symptoms will show up 12 to 72 hours after infection. They will last up from between 4 to 7 days, and most patients will recover without any treatment. The wonder of the human immune system.

However, that being said, in some cases, the infected person can have diarrhea so bad, they need to be hospitalized. Hundreds of children actually die in third world countries every year from diarrhea.

Diarrhea prevents your body from absorbing water or nutrition. So if it’s really bad, just put your pride aside and check yourself into a hospital.

For the elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems, salmonella can be possibly fatal. It can also, in some cases, travel from the intestines to the bloodstream.

If you don’t seem to be getting better, or it is particularly severe, seek help from a medical professional.

Botulism

Botulism is a bacteria that common infects reptiles. There a few ways you can catch it, but the way we’re most worried about is wound botulism.

If you have an open wound (say, a bite) and come in contact with something that carries the bacteria that causes botulism (say, a pet snake, perhaps), then you have a great chance of catching it. Here are the symptoms.

  • double/blurred vision
  • lethargy
  • paralysis
  • shortness of breath
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea/constipation

Botulism is the most sever disease you can contract from your pet snake. It is also the most rare one.

In most cases, adults and even young children produce bacteria that counter the bacteria that causes botulism. Infants are really the only ones that are susceptible, as they haven’t produced the bacteria yet. If your infant gets bitten by a snake, take them directly to a hospital.

Doctors will administer antitoxins, antibiotics, breathing aids, and therapy as needed.

Snake Mites

Mites are small parasites that will burrow in an animal and suck their blood. They are equal opportunity parasites and will mooch off just about anything, including humans. All of you equal rights activists can rest easy now.

If your snake is infected with mites, any time you pick up your pet, you have the possibility of contracting them.

However, if you get bitten by your snake, you’ve just increased your chances of becoming infected yourself because you just literally opened a door for the mites right into your body.

It can take up to four to six weeks for the symptoms of mites to manifest themselves. They are:

  • itching
  • pimple-like rash
  • blisters/sores
  • scale-like skin
  • track-like burrows creating slightly raised skin

Mites will typically take up residence in the crevices of your body like between the fingers or the fold of your elbow. You can treat them with prescribed creams from your doctor.

Treat Your Bite

The first thing you need to do if you are bitten is to remove yourself from the situation. Most pet snakes will not bite unless they have been aggressively and unrelentingly bothered.

Calmly set your snake back in its cage and walk away. You don’t want to bother them anymore until you and the snake have cooled off.

Be sure to remain calm. In all likelihood, you are going to be just fine, so there is not need for you to freak out and frighten yourself, your children, or your dog. 

Wash the bite area. A lot. This stage is important because it will prevent you from contracting any of the diseases listed above. If you think you’ve washed enough, think again and keep on washing. Your fingers should be little prunes by the time you are done. Doctor’s orders. 

If you are bleeding, put a band-aid on the wound. If not, you can leave it uncovered, as long as you keep it clean. Monitor the bite for the next week. Take note of the date of the bite. If anything starts to develop, your doctor is going to want to know that information.

The bite should heal quickly and you can chalk it up to experience.

Avoid Snake Bites

To avoid a bite from your pet snake, just be careful around feeding time. Once your snake starts to get hungry, anything will look like food, including your hand. Never hand-feed your snake.

Don’t antagonize your snake, hold it after it’s eaten or while it’s shedding, or threaten or restrict it. These are all sure ways to get bitten.

If you are trying to avoid a bite from a snake in the wild, avoid tall grass, give snakes space, wear protective clothing, and always check dark spaces before reaching into them.

Venomous Snake Bites

If you get bitten by a venomous snake, your symptoms are going to be a little different. Here are a few symptoms that are particular to specific snakes (all of these are paired with the two puncture wounds of the fangs):

Rattlesnakes:

  • severe pain
  • drooping eyelids
  • low blood pressure
  • thirst
  • tiredness or muscle weakness

Cottonmouths:

  • immediate pain and symptoms
  • change in skin color
  • shock
  • low blood pressure
  • weakness

Copperheads:

  • immediate pain and symptoms
  • change in skin color
  • shock
  • low blood pressure
  • weakness

Coral snakes:

  • pain that is not immediate
  • symptoms that set in hours after the bite
  • convulsions
  • drooping eyelids
  • change in skin color
  • stomach pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • headache
  • shock
  • paralysis

If you or a friend gets bitten by a snake in the wild, always assume that it is a venomous snake. Keep a bite area below the heart, try to identify the type of snake (only if you can do that safely), stay calm and immobile, and go to the hospital. 

Never cut into the wound, try to suck out the poison, use a tourniquet, or administer your own medications. It is a good idea to carry a snake bite kit if you are going hiking.

Related Questions

Can a snake bite without injecting venom? Snakes are capable of what is called a “dry bite.” This just means that snakes, even venomous ones, can deliver a bite without injecting poison into their victim.

This is usually used when the snake is annoyed enough to bite but not threatened or hungry enough to want to kill whatever they are biting. Dry bites are warnings.

How many people die per year of snake bites? About 7,000-8,000 people get bitten by venomous snakes every year in the United States, and of those thousands, only about five die on average. That is a one in 1,500 chance of dying from the venom, and usually, that is just when people will not seek the medical attention they need.

Has anyone ever died from a non-venomous snake bite? Though there are no records of people dying from a non-venomous snake’s bite, they are not without their natural weapons and non-venomous snakes can defend themselves through a constriction method. While the percentage of people per decade who have died from these attacks is minuscule, it is still accepted that these non-venomous snakes can be dangerous, too.

Which snake is the least likely to bite? Ball pythons, corn snakes,and garter snakes are all very unlikely to try to bite and tend to make great beginner snake pets due to their docile and non-dangerous natures.

Recent Content