Snake Bites: Everything You Want to Know with Facts and Videos

A bite from a snake is no joke. Fortunately, if it is your own snake, its most likely not going to be poisonous or venomous. If you bought a venomous snake, that’s on you.

What should you do if a snake bites you? Check the bite marks to see how many punctures there are. If the punctures look more serious than minor wounds, call a professional and tell them everything you know about the marks and what the snake looked like. If it is a poisonous bite, keep the affected area below the heart.

Snakes come in all different variety. Some are venomous and others are huge constrictors. Some are the ones that scare you when you see them slithering in tall grass, but are ultimately harmless. Let’s talk about snakes.

What to Do and What Not to Do if a Snake Bites You

If it is a non-venomous bite, read this article, it goes into a lot more depth on what to do. Basically, you’re just going to need to wash it out so you don’t get Salmonella. The next portion of the article is going to assume that this is the case of a venomous snake.

What to do if you are bitten:

  • Remain calm. You are not going to die if you take care of yourself properly.
  • Go to the hospital immediately! They know what to do and how to fix the problem.
  • Avoid things like alcohol, cigarettes, etc. (anything that affects your blood or heart rate).
  • Do keep the bitten area below the heart, especially if you are unsure whether it was really a poisonous snake or not.

What NOT to do:

  • Do not use a tourniquet. This can cut blood flow and could lead to amputating the bitten limb.
  • Do not cut an X over the punctured area and suck out the venom. It just does not work that way. Don’t waste your precious time.
  • Do not apply ice.

Just get yourself to the hospital. They have antivenom they will treat you with. This is the only thing to properly treat snake bites with. Call them on the way to the hospital to ask for advice about what to do on the way there. Describe what the snake looked like.

Steer clear of snakes if you can. Do not engage with them because you may not know what kind of snake they are or what they will do. Good luck!

 

10 Non-Venomous Snake Breeds

  • Anacondas
  • Pythons
  • Milk Snake
  • Smooth snakes
  • Rat snakes
  • Garter snakes
  • Kingsnakes
  • Racer snakes
  • Boas
  • Gopher snakes

Venomous Vs. Non-Venomous Bites

First off, we should talk about the words “poisonous” and “venomous.” A lot of people believe that they are synonymous but this is not true. According to biologists, they are similar but different words.

“Venomous” means an organism that bites or stings to inject toxins into prey or enemies.

“Poisonous” on the other hand, is an organism that unloads toxins when eaten.

Snakes don’t release toxins when eaten but they do inject toxins, so snakes are venomous.

The only exception to this rule is the garter snake, which will actually poison you when ingested. It stores the toxins in its body that will poison its prey. It’s completely harmless otherwise.

Many venomous snakes have combinations of cytotoxins to partially digest the prey before swallowing. Some cytotoxins are even so strong as to liquefy tissue.

There are lots of myths surrounding what snakes are venomous and which ones aren’t. Some people say that the triangular head is an indicator but almost all snakes have triangular heads so that doesn’t work. What you can look for though is how broad the head is. It’ll be a lot bigger than the neck. Venom sacs make the head much broader.

Naturally, if the snake has a rattle, it’s a rattlesnake and all rattlesnakes are venomous. Stay clear if you here rattling snakes.

Another common thing with venomous snakes is they have elliptical pupils. That means that their eyes are like slits. If you’re ever seen Lord of the Rings and you know the Eye of Sauron, that’s what it looks like.

Non-venomous snakes have round eyes, not that you’ll ever get close enough to notice. Though this is not always true. The Taipan snake, King cobra, and black mamba are all venomous rounded eyed snakes.

Some venomous snakes are called “pit vipers.” The reason why is because they have a pit between their eyes and nostrils with an organ that senses heat from warm-blooded prey or enemies. Look for this if you can, because this means that the snake is venomous.

Also, a difference in bites is quite visible. You will generally have two bite marks if it is venomous because of the two fangs that hold the venom. With non-venomous snakes, you’ll have many small marks in a U shape, like a horseshoe, for example.

Venomous vs. Non-Venomous Snake Behaviors 

You’ll find that most snakes don’t like confrontation. They shy away from it if they can. Unfortunately, many snakes get killed because of mistaken identity. Rat snakes are frequently killed by humans who think they are copperhead snakes. Rat snakes actually keep down the population of rats, so we need to keep them alive.

There are many phrases that people use to help with remembering venomous snakes. Phrases like “red on black, friendly jack” and “red on yellow kills a fellow.” These phrases are for remembering the coral snake, which is a poisonous snake who has red bands touching yellow. The red on black refers to the scarlet king snake, which is harmless.

Another phrase is used for copperheads and black widows who have hourglass shapes on their bodies. “Hourglass shape, move in haste.” It’s not as catchy, but it works. In the end, it’s best to just leave snakes alone and to not engage with them.

Snakes are truly incredible animals. They don’t have many advantages from an evolutionary standpoint, but they seem to do well for themselves. They do not have talons, arms, good eyesight, ears, legs, etc. They lack so much in the way of evolution but yet they survive somehow.

With boas and pythons, which are non-venomous, it is important for them to pull a quick maneuver to stop prey in its tracks. They use the technique of striking the prey quickly and then grabbing it with its teeth. Some snakes have teeth that stick back, facing to the throat of the snake. This helps them latch on and not let the prey escape.

After that, they wrap their coil around the victim and literally squeeze the life out of them. Snakes can sense vibration and breathing motions in the prey, so when the prey exhales they turn the squeezing up a notch to make sure the prey doesn’t get any more air.

It’s like squeezing in stages. Everytime that the prey has to exhale, the snake will tighten its grip a little more. It will keep tightening until it feels the heartbeat of the creature has stopped.

These snakes kill prey differently from venomous snakes. They have to adapt because of the lack of venom. They don’t have anything to do the job for them, so they immobilize the prey themselves. This technique is so effective that death can be over and done in minutes.

What’s in Snake Venom?

Snake venom, believe it or not, is generally composed of proteins. It also has enzymes and other molecular substances, but protein is the most interesting one to me.

The fluid that secretes from the snake is similar to saliva. This liquid makes it easy to enter the bloodstream. The protein is toxic and it causes most of the pain. The enzymes work as a support that speeds up the process. They break down all kinds of molecules and cause a lot of damage.

Maybe you’re wondering why this protein is so dangerous when it enters the bloodstream if protein is supposed to be essential to our survival.

I don’t claim to be a professional, but I believe that our body breaks down the protein before it enters the bloodstream and when injected by a snake, the blood receives a pure protein. Here is more information on this whole subject that will explain it better than me.

The toxins that are put into your body when you are bitten are meant to destroy cells and mess with your nerves. This nasty stuff will break down cells and tissues. Paralysis, death and other terrible things can happen to you. Internal bleeding can happen and that can lead to other problems. Consult professionals as soon as possible.

Fun fact: Researches are testing snake venom for pieces to develop drugs to treat diseases. So maybe snake venom will finally have a good use, after all. 

The Main Three Types of Snake Venom

I will explain each of these in detail:

  • Cytotoxins
  • Neurotoxins
  • Hemotoxins

Cytotoxins

Cytotoxins are scary stuff. They destroy the cells in your body. These toxins are what cells have nightmares about. Cytotoxins are the cause of death of cells or tissue and in some cases, organs in the body. This is called necrosis. It creates a failure of blood supply to different areas of the body, which makes different organs fail.

Cytotoxins are interesting because they attack specific areas of cells. They are like specialized killers. Some examples of the areas they attack are muscle cells, heart cells, and kidney cells.

Many venomous snakes have combinations of cytotoxins to partially digest the prey before swallowing. Some cytotoxins are even so strong as to liquefy tissue. Most of the tissue damage will be at the bite wound.

Neurotoxins

Neurotoxins are the ones you have probably heard of before. As you might have guessed, they affect the nervous system. They throw a wrench in the chemical signals that are sent between neurons. Because of this, neurotoxins can cause muscle paralysis. If your muscles become paralyzed, you’re done for, because your respiratory system may not work.

Hemotoxins

Hemotoxins are toxins that poison the blood. Many vipers produce this kind of toxin. These ones have effects similar to cytotoxins and the process of how the blood clots. This kind of poison causes red blood cells to burst, and this can cause organ damage.

Because of the red blood cells exploding and problems with blood clotting, this can lead to some huge amounts of internal bleeding and disrupt kidney functions. The opposite can happen as well. It can cause blood cells to bunch up together and block blood circulation.

Is a Snake Immune to Its Own Venom?

Venomous snakes ingest the prey that they kill with their own venom. Sounds counterintuitive. Let me explain.

The reason why they don’t get poisoned by their own venom is that the venom is protein based. If entered directly to the bloodstream, it is dangerous but entering first into the belly is okay.

The stomach is where all the magic happens. When snake venom is ingested, it is broken down by stomach acids and enzymes that are designed to digest the venom. This process makes the protein toxins into amino acids.

Venomous snakes also have antibodies that protect them against their own toxins. Their venom glands and set up in a way that won’t allow them to flow into the snake’s body when they are not in use. There are some other things, too, that make these snakes unique and immune to their own venom. They are vulnerable to other snakes venoms that are not of the same species.

What is the Most Deadly Snake Bite?

Snakes will usually only bite or attack if they feel threatened. Venomous snakes will also only use the amount they need to poison a foe or prey. It’s amazing that they have the ability to calculate that. Unless, of course, you’re the victim.

People use the phrases, “most deadly” and “most dangerous” interchangeably. These are two very different things.

The most deadly snake in the world, meaning the most toxic, is the Inland Taipan. One drop of its venom could kill 100 humans. If we are talking about the most dangerous, meaning how many humans that it has killed, they are very mild in terms of the venom department.

For example, cottonmouth and copperhead snakes are considered very deadly. They are dangerous because they are more aggressive snakes but they aren’t that deadly. Copperheads would have a difficult time killing humans even if untreated and cottonmouths don’t have that potent of a venom.

Regardless, don’t engage with snakes if you do not want the trouble.

Do Snake Owners Get Bitten Frequently?

Generally, people buy non-venomous snakes, so being bit should not be much of a problem. If you are bitten, though, here are some thoughts.

Snakes are more likely to bite you when you first get them. They are scared and may not trust you yet, so give it time. They may accidentally bite you if they are hungry and may lash out to take food from you. Snakes can also be irritable and bite more when they are about to shed.

If you do get bitten by a non-venomous snake, you should have some antiseptic soap with you. Clean out the wound with the soap and warm water. Do this for a little while. Make sure to wash the wounds thoroughly.

Ask your doctor about medical treatment. If you don’t clean it out, then you could get bacteria in the wound. You could get salmonella if you don’t clean it out.

We have all heard of salmonella. These bacteria are frequently found on reptiles. Salmonella will cause diarrhea, headaches, fever and stomach cramps. Sometimes in rare cases, it can even poison your blood. It’s not a good time, so clean out your wound so there are fewer chances.

Basically, just make sure you are feeding your snake regularly. Take care of it and it will trust you. Be aware of its mood. Be respectful of its space and do not frighten it. Let it be while it’s shedding and wait a little while after it is done.

Related Questions

What is the first aid for snake bite? Snake bites can create pain and swell in the area affected. There are many different kinds of venom that snakes can produce with can harm you. See a medical professional for application of antivenom. There are also non-venomous snakes which could give you salmonella if the wound is not cleaned out.

How long does it take for a snake bite to kill you? Well, it depends on the snake. On average, it takes about 30 to 60 minutes. Some snakes have venom that is less potent than others, but you should always seek medical attention regardless. Do not wait to receive help.

Do all snake bites hurt? A venomous bite is going to cause severe pain. Either venomous or non-venomous can bleed. Both can be serious. As a rule of thumb, always seek medical attention.

Morgan Rial

Hello! I am Morgan Rial. I am a student at BYU-Idaho. My passion is people. I really thrive off of studying new things. I was a gamer in my younger days. It is more of a past time now. I am a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda series. I recently grew a love for biking. I really enjoy nature. I will always find new places to visit. Life is meant to be enjoyed and lived.

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