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How to keep from Getting Snake-Bit By Tim Anderson. Objective:. Don’t get bit by a snake. Strategy #1. Avoidance(Don’t be in the same place as a Snake). Strategy #1. How to avoid Snakes: Stay out of and don’t create Snake Habitat:

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Don’t get bit by a snake

strategy 1
Strategy #1
  • Avoidance(Don’t be in the same place as a Snake)
strategy 14
Strategy #1

How to avoid Snakes: Stay out of and don’t create Snake Habitat:

Overhead cover/shade (canebreaks, brush thickets, rocky areas, slash piles, holes, logs, leaf litter, river and creek banks,etc.) near sunny areas and prey concentrations (rodents, frogs, lizards, birds, and fish).

Activities that create Snake Habitat:
  • Piling debris
  • Attracting snake prey(providing food for rodents or birds, creating ditches or pools that might be inhabited by frogs or fish)
strategy 2
Strategy #2

Don’t mess with snakes

strategy 3
Strategy #3

Dispose of Snakes


Timber Rattler

Cotton Mouth Water Moccasin



Texas Coral Snake


Non-poisonous snakes tend to look like the poisonous ones. This helps to protect the non-poisonous snake.

Some examples from Texas:

Big bend milk snake

Mexican milk snake

Texas long nose snake

Texas lyre snake


Coral Snake 

Big bend Milk Snake  Mexican Milk Snake

Texas long nose snake

Snake Disposal Methods:
  • Beat it to death with a Long-Handled implement (shovel, hoe, etc.)
  • Crush it with a large rock thrown from a safe distance.
  • Shooting- Don’t shoot at snakes if the shot poses a greater threat than the snake!
  • Others?
  • Exercise caution when handling snake carcasses

Texas Lyre Snake

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake 

 Timber Rattlesnake

pit vipers19
Pit Vipers
  • The name comes from the depression/pit in the maxillary bone. It sits between the nose and eye, but a little lower.
  • The pit is believed to be a heat sensing organ that help the snake to detect it’s prey. Especially at night.
  • It is believed that the pit also helps the snake to determine the amount of venom to release by how much heat the prey emits.
pit vipers22
Pit Vipers
  • Other identifiable characteristics:
    • vertical elliptical pupils
    • Triangular head
    • Most have “rattles”. One rattle per skin slough. Rattles are to let you know you are in the vicinity of the snake. Rattle increases the closer you get to the snake.
    • Two part tongue used for smell.
pit vipers23
Pit Vipers
  • The fangs of a pit viper are at the front of the jaw and are “hinged”. They fold backward against the roof of the mouth when not in use.
  • The venom apparatus consists of a gland and hollow duct connected to the fangs.
  • Pit vipers are most active between April and October.
pit vipers25
Pit Vipers
  • The venom is composed of hydrolytic enzymes and proteins designed to immobilize, kill and digest its prey.
    • Hydrolytic enzymes cause the red blood cells to break down and affect the clotting mechanism of the blood, leading to necrosis and infarction of the tissue.
  • Depending on the amount of venom injected, the venom can cause various toxic effects on the blood and other tissues.
pit vipers26
Pit Vipers
  • Venom can cause:
    • Hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells and the release of hemoglobin)
    • Intravascular coagulation
    • Convulsions
    • Acute renal failure
    • secondary bleeding can lead to hypovolemic shock from coagulation defects and massive swelling.
pit vipers27
Pit Vipers
  • The snake can release any quantity of venom on any given strike. From none to the entire amount in the glands.
  • Bites are usually on the legs or hands
  • 20% of bites do not result in envenomation
  • Pit viper bites have a distinctive two puncture holes with teeth abrasions.
pit vipers29
Pit Vipers
  • Pit vipers strike is lightning fast. Depending on the snake, the striking stance is different.
pit viper
Pit Viper
  • A severe bite form a pit viper can result in death from shock within 30 minutes
    • Most deaths occur from 6 to 30 hours after the bite.
pit vipers32
Signs and Symptoms

Fang Marks

Swelling and pain at bite marks

Oozing at bite

Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

Sweating and/or chills


Nausea and Vomiting


Tachycardia and hypotension

Bloody urine and GI hemorrhage (late)

Shallow Resp. progressing to failure

Numbness and tingling around face and head (classic)

Metallic taste in mouth

Pit Vipers
pit viper33
Pit Viper
  • Management
    • Bring the snake to the hospital for identification DEAD. If possible or practical. Do not delay patient care to find the snake.
    • ABC’s
    • EKG and IV
    • Immobilize bite
    • Lymphatic constricting bands
    • In hospital - antivenom
western diamondback rattlesnake
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Holds first place for most serious bites and highest fatalities in US.
  • Average three to four feet in length, but have been know to grow to seven feet in length.
  • Has a rattle which grows longer after each molt. Used to scare off intruders.
  • Life span of about 15 years.
  • Young are born with fangs and venom intact.
western diamondback rattlesnake35
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • They are aggressive and excitable.
  • When alarmed they make a sound that resembles a sudden burst of steam.
  • Hibernate in groups.
  • Hibernation in colder habitats are in holes and tunnels of burrowing mammals.
  • Hibernation in warmer habitats are in rock crevices and they hibernate in small groups.
western diamondback rattlesnake36
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • They are nocturnal hunters.
  • They inhabit area such as dry, rocky, shrub-covered terrain and conceal themselves inside crevices in the rocks.
  • They will stand their ground when disturbed.
  • In a defensive posture they will raise their head and loop the neck up high above it’s coils. This gives it a better striking position.
western diamondback rattlesnake37
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Lidless eyes that are protected by an outer skin.
  • Has alternating bands of black and white that are of equal width in the tail.
  • Brown diamond shaped markings are found along the middle of the rattler’s back.
western diamondback rattlesnake variations
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake - Variations

Albino Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Melanistic Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

massasauga rattlesnake
Massasauga Rattlesnake
  • Average about 3 feet in length
  • Life span of about 14 years
  • Young are born with fangs and venom intact.
  • Fangs are about 5.0 to 5.9 mm in length.
  • Eyes have an elliptical pupil.
  • They are nocturnal in the hot months
  • Often seen basking on rocks.
massasauga rattlesnake40
Massasauga Rattlesnake
  • Hibernation sites include rock crevices, rodent and crayfish burrows, old stumps, and rotten logs.
  • Can survive a freezing body temperature for short periods of time without harm.
  • Reports describe the Massasauga as sluggish and mild-mannered or very alert and irritable. All should be considered Extremely dangerous.
massasauga rattlesnake41
Massasauga Rattlesnake
  • They will rattle their tail and strike if someone comes to close.
  • They inhabit areas such as swamps, marshes, bogs, wetlands and wet prairies.
  • They are also found in open sunny areas with elevated basking areas.
massasauga rattlesnake42
Massasauga Rattlesnake
  • Grey to brown bodies with dark blotches down their back.
  • Tail is ringed with alternating dark or light bands
timber rattlesnake
Timber Rattlesnake
  • Average about 3 to 6 feet in length.
  • Maximum life span of 30 years.
  • Newborns are equipped with 2.6mm long fangs and venom intact.
  • Adults have fangs 8.7 - 10.4 mm in length. They can replace fangs if lost or broken.
  • They will hibernate in large groups.
  • They may migrate for miles to specific hibernation locations.
timber rattlesnake44
Timber Rattlesnake
  • Their dens are rock crevices in south facing slopes, mammal burrows and large hollow logs.
  • They will retreat if disturbed. If cornered, they will form a loose coil with head raised and strike when the intruder is close. They will coil and strike with the rattle active the whole time.
timber rattlesnakes
Timber Rattlesnakes
  • They are mild tempered compared to other rattlesnakes, but are still extremely dangerous.
  • They are ambush predators that “sit and wait” for prey.
timber rattlesnake46
Timber Rattlesnake
  • The head is yellow and unmarked.
  • Tail is always black.
  • Belly is white gray with dark flecks.
  • Has black or brown crossbands on a yellow or brown body.
cottonmouth water moccasin
Cottonmouth Water Moccasin
  • Average length up to six feet.
  • Young are born with fangs and venom intact.
  • Stubby, muscular snake.
  • They rarely stray from water.
  • Moccasins can bite underwater, However, they cannot strike underwater due to the water resistance..
cottonmouth water moccasin48
Cottonmouth Water Moccasin
  • Most commonly found in marshes, swamps, ponds, shallow lakes, ditches and canals, slow moving streams.
  • They are very defensive and aggressive. They will stand their ground or even approach its aggressor.
  • They will readily vibrate their tail when provoked and can make make an impressive “rattling” sound against leaves, water or solid objects.
cottonmouth water moccasin49
Cottonmouth Water moccasin
  • Their mouths will snap shut when touched like a trap. Hence, the nickname “Trapjaw”.
  • Their powerful jaws support the snake latching on, rather than a strike and release, when biting.
cottonmouth water moccasin50
Cottonmouth Water Moccasin
  • Body is brown, olive or blackish in color.
  • With a lighter belly and crossbands extending all the way down around and across its belly.
  • They have a dark stripe on their cheek that runs through the eye.
  • Average about 2 - 4.5 feet in length.
  • Life span of about 29 years
  • Young are born with fangs and venom intact.
  • Adult fangs are about 1.1 to 7.2 mm in length.
  • They are nocturnal during the hot months.
  • They bask during the day in spring and fall.
  • They may climb into low bushes or trees to hunt or bask
  • Eyes have an elliptical pupil.
  • They migrate to communal hibernation dens.
  • Hibernation sites include: caves, gravel banks, old stone walls, building foundations, animal burrows, logs, stumps and sawdust piles that extend well below the frost line.
  • They have no affinity for water,but do favor damp habitats.
  • Fatalities from the bite are almost nonexistent, but they should be considered extremely dangerous.
  • They will lie motionless in a coil when approached.
  • They are often touched and stepped on due to the camouflage pattern.
  • When touched they will strike or flee or may remain quiet.
  • If handled, they will spray a musk. It smells of cucumbers.
  • Adults are ambush predators
  • Young actively stalk their prey.
  • Copperhead are without a rattle.
  • The body is copper, orange, or pink tinged with brown to reddish-brown saddle shaped bands.
  • Bands widen along the sides of the body and narrow at the center. (hourglass pattern)
coral snake
Coral Snake
  • The coral snake in contrast to the pit vipers, has round pupils and small fixed fangs located near the anterior end of the maxilla
  • Has three-color pattern with red, yellow and black along with a black snout.
  • Many non-poisonous snakes in the US mimic the appearance of the coral snake.
  • “Red on Yellow will kill a fellow, Red on Black will venom lack.”

Coral Snake 

Big bend Milk Snake

Mexican Milk Snake

Texas long

nose Snake 

coral snake58
Coral Snake
  • Coral snakes are shy and docile and they seldom bite unless threatened. They will rarely bite when handled.
  • Most common bitten area is the finger, toes or folds of skin, due to small mouth and fangs.
  • Coral snakes have to chew rather that strike it’s prey.
coral snake59
Coral Snake
  • The venom is a neurotoxin and blocks the acetylcholine receptor sites.
  • It affects the nervous tissues.
  • The bite will generate little to no pain.
  • There is no edema or necrosis of the tissue.
  • Systemic effects may not appear until 12 - 24 hours after the bite.
coral snake60
Signs and Symptoms

Slurred speech and excessive salivation

Dilated pupils, double vision and drooping eyelids

Localized numbness, weakness and drowsiness

Nausea and vomiting

Flaccid paralysis of tongue and larynx

Loss of consciousness



Abdominal pain

Death from respiratory failure

Late signs arise from the nervous system dysfunction.

Coral Snake
coral snake62
Coral Snake
  • Management
    • Supportive only
    • Wash wound with copious amounts of sterile water.
    • Apply constricting bands between bite and heart. Lymphatic bands only, not venous or arterial. No tighter than a watch band.
    • In hospital - antivenom