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The Dr. Daliah Show

Weekdays Midnight - 2AM

As the weather warms, snakes come out of hiding and enjoy the sun.

Although they don’t officially hibernate, they spend most of the winter and cold season dormant and inactive, slowing their metabolism (brumation).

Then they peer out while staying hidden as hikers, and passersby enjoy trails and parks during Spring and Summertime.

But the last few years have been different. National parks, trails, and community parks had been closed to the public for weeks and lockdowns/working from home changed people’s weekend hiking habits. Snakes may not be conditioned to avoid people as they had to in 2019.

Las Vegas resident Jan Porter came across this jewel as she was jogging one day.

Moreover, the drought has forced many creatures from their rural habitat to more lived-in areas to seek more food and water. Some may even hit your nearby lake.

YIKES! Rattlesnake Seen Swimming in Whiskeytown Lake – Active NorCal
Low river and lake levels might bring an occasional snake up onto a boat as there is less tree and brush debris for them to hitch rides on.

As governors relax COVID pandemic shutdowns and people go out and enjoy the outdoors, they may need to keep in mind that we are invading a snake’s turf they’ve dominated for weeks.

How Common are Snake Bites in the US?
UF Wildlife states there are an average of 7-8000 snake bites a year.

How Often Are Snake Bites Deadly?
It’s rare to die of a snake bite with antivenom medication and access to hospitals, so we believe less than 5 deaths may happen in any given year from a snake bite in the US.

What is Snake Venom?
Snake venom can vary depending on the species of the snake, but rattlesnakes (known for being deadly) inject a venom that may contain neurotoxins and hemotoxins which can cause multiple maladies by destroying local tissues, nerves affecting breathing, and cause extensive bleeding.

Snake Bite Prevention
Not all snakes are venomous but some can be, especially rattlesnakes. So to prevent from being bit we suggest the following:

Be aware of your surroundings and avoid places where snakes like to live such as plants, holes and rocky areas.
Stop if you see one and slowly retreat, allowing it an opportunity to slither away
Make sure you wear loose, long pants and high shoes or boots to avoid a bite at lower leg height.
Snakes may recoil with direct light so have a flashlight handy if you are walking around at night.
Use a walking stick when hiking through tall grass
Make sure your tetanus vaccination is up to date as well.

What Do I Do If I’m Bit by a Snake?
Although your first instinct may be to take a pic and share on social media, we suggest the following:

Always stay calm and move away from the snake.
Try to look at it and make a mental note of identifying features as the medical provider may need to know….or a picture as long as you can be a safe distance away.
Document time of bite
Do NOT try to catch the snake or kill it.
Remove any tight clothing or jewelry if bit on your arm or leg as swelling can ensue.
Elevate the arm or leg above the level of the heart, if possible.
Contact a medical provider or call 911.
Clean the wound with soap and water and AVOID sucking out the venom or trying to cut the skin.
Avoid applying ice to the wound.

Enjoying the outdoors has it’s risks, but if you’re aware of with whom we share Mother Nature, you can prevent the rare occurrence of a deadly snake bite.

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN.