There’s a Snake In The Yard! What to Do (and not do) When You See a Snake

First, don’t kill nonvenomous snakes. Any given area can only support a fixed number of snakes. If you kill the nonvenomous snakes that leaves a food supply that could support a population of venomous snakes.

Remember to stay a safe distance from the snake. Snakes usually strike about 1/2 their body length, but they can strike farther. You also don’t want to trip and fall on the snake.

80% of bites occur when someone tries to catch or kill a snake. The safest thing you can do if you see a snake is to leave it alone. (It’s probably protected by law anyway.)

85% of bites in the United States occur on the hand and forearm. 50% involve a victim under the age of 20. 70% of bites in the United States involve alcohol consumption.

If you have a snake in your yard, either call someone trained in their removal or stand at a safe distance and spray it with a garden hose. Snakes hate that and will leave quickly.

Step on logs rather than over them. Snakes coil beside logs in the “Reinert Posture” and might mistake your leg for a predator or prey.

Watch where you put your hands and feet. Do not reach under boards with your fingers.

Snakes can be handled safely with proper tools and training, but do NOT risk trying to handle venomous snakes if you have not been professionally trained. There are things that no website can teach you about how to handle venomous snakes safely.

You can minimize the appeal of your yard to a snake by 1. cutting the grass, 2. picking up debris, and 3. Controlling rodents. If there is no food or shelter the snake will soon leave for better hunting grounds.

The safest thing to do if you see a snake is to LEAVE IT ALONE. Most bites occur when someone is attempting to capture or kill a snake.

If you are bitten by a snake, seek immediate medical care from a licensed and experienced physician. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the first aid for snakebite consists of:

“Do remain calm – Remember that there is an excellent chance for survival, and in most cases there is plenty of time.

Do suck and squeeze – as much venom as possible directly from the wound. Venom is protein and can be taken orally with no ill effects.

Do remove jewelry – Swelling can progress rapidly, so rings, watches and bracelets can be a real problem.

Do mark the time – The progress of symptoms (swelling) is the most obvious indicator of the amount of envenomation.

Do keep the stricken limb below the heart.

Do get to a hospital as quickly as possible – Anti-venom serum is the only sure cure for envenomation, and because some people are allergic to horse serum it should only be given in a fully equipped medical facility.

In case of a Coral bite, do pull the snake off immediately – Corals’ fangs are relatively small, and they have to work at getting venom into the wound. Therefore, the faster the snake is removed the less venom is injected.

Do attempt to identify the offending snake – Positive identification in the form of a dead snake is helpful, if convenient, but no time or safety should be wasted since the symptoms will give medical personnel an accurate diagnosis.

Do get a tetanus shot.

Don’t cut the wound – This almost always causes more damage than it’s worth.

Don’t use a tourniquet – This isolates the venom in a small area and causes the digestive enzymes in the venom to concentrate the damage.

Don’t use alcohol orally – it speeds the heart and blood flow and reduces the body’s counter-acting ability.

Don’t use ice – Freezing the stricken limb has been found to be a major factor leading to amputation.”

Remember, snakes have their place in the ecosystem and were around long before we arrived. We are the visitors in their garden. Snakes are quite capable of defending themselves, but are reluctant to do so. If you follow a few common sense rules you can minimize an already very small risk of snakebite during your outdoor adventure.