Let’s face it: no one wants to find themselves in a situation where they are dealing with a severe snake bite, especially when a large diamondback rattler or other venomous snake is involved, but sometimes this is going to happen and it is much better to be safe rather than sorry.
Understanding the common symptoms that come with a snake bite, especially a venomous snake bite, are critical in order to think clearly and make sure you’re prepped to give you (or the other person bit) the right proper treatment as quickly as possible.
Every venomous snake bite needs to be taken seriously and it should go without saying that medical treatment is always advised.
Understanding Venomous Snakebites
Not every snake bite is going to immediately show all of these symptoms, even if the bite is from a venomous species like the copperhead, water moccasin, rattlesnake, or even the coral snake. There’s also the further issue of allergic reactions. Having an allergic reaction of some kind to a snake bite is actually very common and can further exacerbate one or multiple symptoms.
In other words, the effects that result from each individual snake bite vary drastically. This isn’t only between two different people who each have experienced a snake bite, but also different snake bites on the same person.
There are many stories of someone who grew an almost natural resistance to a copperhead bite only to have a rattlesnake bite quickly destroy them, or having resistance to one type of rattlesnake only to have another sub-species have double the damage.
Three things to keep in mind before the next section:
- The difference between venomous snake bites can be huge based on individual people
- The difference in symptoms between venomous snake species can be hugely different
- Even non-venomous snake bites need to be taken seriously and properly treated
Looking at venomous snake bites
One thing to keep in mind is that many people are allergic to different types of snake venom, so there may always be more serious issues that quickly show up to people who are bit. Look for these very common injuries or symptoms and above all be prepared!
Immediately around the bite
- Fang marks
- Bleeding (some venom might make clotting hard)
- Severe burning and pain
- Severe swelling and discoloration emanating from the bite
- Severe bruising emanating from the bite site
Common skin issues from snake bites
- Numbness and tingling both at the bite and in other areas, as well
- Heavy sweating
- Spots of bleeding
- Severe necrotic damage (especially with certain rattlesnake bites)
Muscle damage from snake bites
- General muscle weakness
- Random muscle spasms
- Loss of coordination
Heart & blood flow/circulation issues
- Low blood pressure
- Erratic heartbeat
- Rapid heartbeat
- Severe shock
Central nervous system damage
- Extreme thirst
- Random shooting pains
Other common symptoms & issues
- Labored breathing
- Trouble getting breath
- Blurred vision
- Sick/upset stomach
- Long term pain, swelling, or nerve damage
For a full chart you can find a pretty good one here at Wikipedia.
If you want the updated blog post on how to actually treat a snake bite, and why we no longer support snake bite kits as an in-field treatment then check out this no more snake bite kit blog post.
There’s a reason that so many products exist to help protect against venomous snake bites or to help with first aid if, despite the best of precaution and efforts, a snake bite has occurred. Anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors in snake country needs to take all the necessary precautions to make sure he or she is protected in those worst case scenarios.
Always watch where you put your hands (especially around logs and rocks), consider a good pair of snake proof boots, and make sure you have your favorite snake bite first aid kit on hand to give yourself great odds of getting through the situation as healthy as possible. Take a page from the Scout Motto and “Be Prepared!”