If I suck the venom out of a snakebite, will I live?
You’re hiking with a friend. The sun is shining, the birds are singing — you’re feeling one with nature. Then the unthinkable happens — as you step over a tree log on the trail, a snake beneath it lurches out and sinks its fangs into your calf. Out of all the panicky thoughts that race through your mind, one screams the loudest — something you learned in the Scouts: If you get bitten by a snake, suck out the venom. Frantically, you turn to your friend and to tell him to start sucking, but he replies, “No way, man! Then we’ll both die.”
Here’s your answer: Most likely, your friend wouldn’t die from ingesting snake venom. But if he has an open wound in his mouth, the venom could enter his bloodstream, which is very dangerous. On the flipside, his mouth, like any human mouth, is stocked full of germs that could cause infection in your wound. So, either way you slice it, venom-sucking isn’t a winning solution
To understand how to treat — and how not to treat — a snakebite, you need to understand how venom affects your body. Note that we don’t use the word “poison” when discussing snakebites. Poisons are toxic if you swallow or inhale them. Venoms, on the other hand, are only toxic if injected into soft tissues and the bloodstream. So, technically, if you suck the venom out of a snakebite and you don’t have an open wound in your mouth, you won’t be affected. But that doesn’t mean you should do it! Although long considered a viable treatment, experts now strongly advise against sucking the venom out of a snakebite wound. What changed their minds?
Before we discuss snakebite treatment, it’s important to note that the chances of receiving a venomous snakebite are very low. Worldwide, there are between 1 and 2 million snakebite incidents per year. However, those numbers result in only 50,000 to 100,000 snakebite fatalities
How do you tell the difference between a venomous snake and a non-venomous snake? Many experts point to the snake’s eyes. Non-venomous snakes have round pupils. Venomous snakes have elliptical pupils, like a cat’s. Additionally, pit vipers, all of which are venomous, have a small hole or pit between the nostril and the eye. Of course, this information implies that you’re supposed to bend over and peer into the creature’s face, which wouldn’t be very smart. The best and safest way to determine whether a snake is venomous is to familiarize yourself with the snakes local to your area and memorize their color bands or markings. For example, the venomous coral snake and the harmless milk snake, or scarlet snake, look nearly identical, except for the order of their red, black and yellow bands. To tell the difference, children are taught the rhyme, “Red touch black, venom lack. Red touch yellow, kill a fellow.”
SAFE WAYS TO GET RID OF NUISANCE SNAKES IN YOUR YARD
So, it happened yesterday, you went outside in the yard on that perfect summer day to enjoy nature only to discover that some nature was already enjoying your yard, in the form of a snake. Worse yet, it was perched right on the warm dunes of your kids’ sandbox! After you recovered from the hot wave of fear that would naturally wash over any parent taking in this sight you realized that you had a problem and you needed to handle it. “But how do I safely remove a snake from the yard?” you ask yourself. “I am not Steve Irwin, and this isn’t Animal Planet!” Well, rest assured that you don’t have to be an animal TV host to safely remove an unwanted scaly visitor from your domain. Below are some practical tips on safe snake removal for “non-snake” people.
THE THREE MOST COMMON OPTIONS FOR GETTING RID OF UNWANTED SNAKES IN YOUR YARD INCLUDE:
You can hire a professional wildlife removal service.
You can purchase snake traps.
You can keep some simple tools on hand and safely remove the snake yourself.
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL WILDLIFE REMOVAL SERVICE:
Most areas of the country have companies that will come to your home and attempt to remove a nuisance animal from your yard or dwelling. The trouble is, much like taking the car to the mechanic, you hope that the service representative can find the problem. Snakes are experts at hiding and you may be challenged to get someone to come who can find the critter. Also, reputable companies can be expensive, often charging over $120 to $200 for their visit. This can get expensive if you have more than one snake frequenting your yard. Finally, if you choose to hire a professional service, be sure that they are licensed and insured, or you may be liable if they are injured on your property.
PURCHASE SNAKE TRAPS
Another method to try to remove snakes from your yard is to put out snake traps for the snakes in the hopes that the animal will pass over the trap and get caught. Many people don’t like this option because it can be very inhumane to the animal. Most people want the intruder gone, but prefer to see the animal relocated, not killed. Snakes caught in a trap often suffer before they die from dehydration, starvation or even other animals. Also, a snake in a trap is a snake you will have to deal with eventually. Most traps aren’t designed to allow you to safely release the animal, thus you must kill the animal to safely dispose of it. Also, traps don’t discriminate between the “good guys and the bad guys”. Purchase a trap and you may see a lot of other unintended wildlife collateral damage before you get your intended target. Lizards, turtles, small mammals and sometimes even birds are unintentionally killed by traps set out by homeowners. If you choose to use a trap, select one that is humane and monitor it daily for the best results.
HANDLE THE JOB YOURSELF
Snake removal is not just for exuberant animal television hosts. Almost any responsible adult can safely remove and relocate a nuisance snake from their yard with a little equipment and a basic understanding of how to properly use those tools. Best of all, for less than the cost of the average removal service call you can own the items to do the job over and over as needed, saving money in the long run.
Fact or Fiction: Do Mothballs Keep Snakes Away?
Many people still use mothballs around their home to try to keep snakes away. However, studies have shown that mothballs are not effective for this purpose.
DO MOTHBALLS KEEP SNAKES AWAY? NO
“The use of mothballs as a snake repellent is an old wives’ tale that just won’t go away. When people sprinkle them under or around a house, it increases the likelihood that a child or a pet will find them and eat them. They look just like candy to young children. Also, the toxic vapors can seep up into the living spaces, sickening all of the people inside.”
THE DANGERS OF MOTHBALLS
The fumes from mothballs can cause headache, dizziness and irritation to the eyes and lungs. If swallowed, naphthalene can cause a condition called hemolytic anemia. This is when red blood cells break apart and can no longer carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Symptoms of this condition may include fatigue, shortness of breath and painful urination, with discolored urine.
IS THERE A SAFE SNAKE REPELLENT?
Most snakes are harmless and provide a valuable service around your home by keeping pests and rodents away. Still, some people find the presence of snakes alarming and want to keep them away from their property. Like mothballs, commercial snake repellents have not proven to be successful at keeping snakes away. It is also never a good idea to leave any sort of pesticide lying around where children might find it.
Snakes are attracted to areas that provide them with cover and shelter. Remove log or trash piles close to your house. Keep the grass or other vegetation near your house closely mowed or trimmed.
Tight-fitting screens and doors will keep snakes out of the house. Seal off all cracks and holes into your crawl space or basement.
Check the roof for overhanging vegetation. Snakes are good climbers and can also enter through the attic where trees provide access.
Have your house checked for rodent problems. If you can eliminate the food source, the snakes will go elsewhere
ways to keep snakes out of your yard and garden
“There are no poisons or repellents that work, though some new ‘breakthrough’ is occasionally advertised. Horsehair ropes and trails of mothballs have consistently tested negative, and pest control operators have no answers,”
Venomous snake bites are rare, and you can readily take steps to keep them away. If you’re an avid gardener, however, you may even want snakes in your slice of the great outdoors, since they diet on rodents and insects and can actually help protect your garden from pests
Closer to your home, seal the openings where snakes like to set up shop. “Check the clearance of door bottoms, weep holes, openings where pipes enter, cracks and spaces under eaves,”
Tidy up the yard
Snakes might choose to live on your property or simply travel through. You want to make your property as inhospitable as possible, so concentrate on ridding it of any places snakes would consider good spots to hide. Remove debris — from piles of boards, tin, sticks and leaves to flatboats on the ground and piles of bricks or stone, advised — and keep vegetation cut back.
Stop serving the snake’s preferred menu
It’s a win-win. When you take away potential hiding places for snakes, the spots where rat and mice families like to congregate are also eliminated.
These are obviously a bigger threat to the health and well-being of you and your family, and this category includes such fearsome snakes as the copperhead, water moccasin and numerous species of rattlesnakes , all of which can cause serious and often fatal injury if they are allowed to maintain a presence around your home. Because their main source of food are small rodents, having any rodents such as mice or rats in or around your home makes it much more likely that you might have poisonous snakes lurking not far away
Although they don’t present a massive threat to the health of you and your loved ones like venomous snakes do, the non-venomous species of snakes are also a serious pest problem, and can cause many problems should they find their way into your home. The major problem that non-venomous snakes can cause is that they are liable to create nests inside a house, which can easily draw in more pests of different species and cause a huge problem if not taken care of quickly and completely.
How To Get Rid Of Snakes – Snake Repellent And Snake Traps
Knowing how to keep snakes away is a matter of knowing about the tools available to do so. With snakes, there are really only two ways to do it; repel them or use giant glue traps to capture and kill them.
Snake repellent is one of the greatest ways to make sure your home doesn’t fall victim to these pests. It is designed to repel all snakes, both poisonous and non-poisonous, and can be applied around the perimeter of your house or yard. This will give you the peace of mind knowing that any snakes that come near your home will quickly turn away and look for a more hospitable environment.
Should there be an ongoing snake problem, a repellent is not going to be enough, and snake traps should be used to kill snakes that are already on the property. Most traps for this purpose are the same glue based products as many rat traps, and should be checked and cleaned regularly after they are applied.