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How to Avoid Snake Bites While Hiking

How to avoid snake bites while hiking

Hiking is one of the most fun and exciting things to do. It can also be very dangerous if you’re not careful. For example, snakes are common in nature, but they can also bite people who aren’t expecting them. In this article we’ll discuss how to avoid snake bites while hiking so that you don’t get bit by a poisonous snake or any other type of animal!

Way to Avoid Snake Bites While Hiking

Snake Types and Behavior

Snake bites are rare, but they can be deadly. If you are hiking in warm weather and come across a snake of any kind, the best thing to do is leave it alone. You should also avoid handling any animals or plants since it may be poisonous.

Snakes are cold-blooded creatures that need heat to survive so if you find one on your hike, there’s no need for concern—it will likely not hurt you unless it feels threatened by something else around it (like people). However, there are many different types of snakes out there depending on where you live; some are venomous while others aren’t at all harmful! Snakes prefer humid areas because they lose heat quicker when exposed to air than other animals do during colder seasons such as winter months when temperatures drop below freezing point.”

Avoid Snake Terrain and Habitats

Avoid Snake Terrain and Habitats

The best way to avoid snake bites while hiking is to avoid areas where snakes are likely to be, whether they’re hiding or hunting.

  • Avoid areas where snakes are likely to be hiding: This includes rocky areas and dry brush.
  • Avoid areas where snakes are likely to be hunting: This includes open fields and grasslands that have recently been mowed or burned. It’s also important not to walk through thickets of trees or shrubs because many species of rattlesnakes will nest in them during hot weather (and may use the same area as their den).
  • Avoid areas where snakes are likely to be mating: Mating season for several species of rattlesnakes can last from late spring until early fall, so it’s best not try mating season if you don’t want a surprise encounter! If you do get bitten during mating season though (and most people do), don’t worry–you’re unlikely ever see another one again after this point unless they accidentally escape from their home without making any friends first…

How far away do I need to be to keep from being bitten?

The distance that you need to keep from a snake depends on the species and size of the snake. A smaller python or cottonmouth can strike up to 10 feet away, while larger constrictors will be able to reach as far as 20 feet.

Whether you’re hiking alone and don’t have any pets with you, then your best bet is to keep at least one foot between yourself and any potential danger—especially if it’s still daylight out!

If you’re hiking with someone else, however, this becomes a little bit easier. There are two of you and one person sees the snake first, then that person should stand their ground while the other comes around to see what all the fuss is about.

What if it doesn’t move?

If a snake doesn’t move, don’t assume it’s not poisonous. If you think a snake is moving but want to be sure, use the following steps:

  • Step 1: Grab your hiking stick and stand in front of the snake.
  • Step 2: Look at its head and tail (the highest point).
  • Step 3: If there are no scales on its head or neck, or if they are broken off. Then it is probably not poisonous (although some species may still carry venom).

How dangerous are they?

If you are bitten by a snake, the first thing to do is stop and stay calm. If you are in shock or have an open wound, keep pressure on the bite until medical help arrives. Do not try to move the snake away from your body so that it can be safely removed; instead, use a stick or branch to poke at it until the snake lets go of its grip.

If possible, get help from other hikers who have experience dealing with venomous snakes before heading out into the wilderness again. Otherwise, seek out professional medical attention as soon as possible. After being bitten by any kind of snake (even if there isn’t much venom involved).

Do rattlesnakes warn you by rattling?

Rattlesnakes, like most snakes, do not rattle. They are a defensive mechanism used to warn other animals away by making a loud noise. If you hear the rattling sound of a rattler before seeing the snake itself, it could mean that the snake is feeling threatened or angry and may be ready to strike.

Rattlesnakes have no vocal cords and can’t make sounds like other animals. They rely on vibrations in their bodies instead of sound waves coming from air passing through their mouths (as would be required for us humans). This makes it difficult for anyone but experts in biology who study snake anatomy and behavior—and even then only after lots of practice—to identify whether or not there’s been an attack on someone nearby without looking at them directly first!

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Do’s and Don’ts After a Bite

After a snake bite, don’t panic. The best way to avoid injury is by keeping yourself calm and making sure your heart rate stays normal.

  • Don’t apply a tourniquet (a constricting bandage) or other constrictive bandage on the bite site. The pressure from such items can cause severe problems for you. It can even lead to amputation of fingers or toes if tightened too much.
  • Call for help immediately after being bitten by a snake. Even if you think it’s unlikely that there are snakes nearby because they’re not nesting season yet! If someone else finds them while they’re looking around. They should be able to treat themselves quickly and safely with first aid supplies.

If possible: keep the bitten area lower than the heart. So, as not to disrupt blood flow through arteries leading away from where damage has occurred. But also make sure that nothing gets stuck inside either artery itself – this could result in serious organ damage

How to Avoid Snakebites While Out on a Hike

If you’re hiking in the wild, it’s important to stay on the trail. This is because snakes are creatures of habit and will stick to their territory if they feel secure.

If you can avoid tall grass and rocky areas, that’s even better. Tall grasses provide good hiding spots for snakes while rocks provide good places for them to hide in plain sight—and if there is any chance at all that you may encounter a snake on your hike (which seems unlikely), then staying away from these areas should be your top priority!

If you’re hiking with a group of people or going alone. Then it might be worth considering wearing long pants or skirts so as not to trip over anything while walking around outside. It could also help if everyone wears leather gloves as well. This prevents any dirt being transferred onto hands which may contain some venomous bacteria or saliva from an infected animal. Such as a snake bite victim who has recently bitten someone else before themselves dying out within hours after being given medical attention.


Snake bites are a serious threat to hikers, but there are many ways to prevent them. In particular, be sure to wear proper footwear and clothing. Avoid human burials or live bait (dead animals) and keep your eyes open for snakes. Don’t panic if you see one!

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Snake Expert Advice For Treating Snake Bites While Hiking

hiking snake bite

As much as we all want to avoid the thought of a snake bite while out on a hiking adventure, the reality is it can happen to anyone. The best way to respond to such a situation is to be prepared and take action immediately.

In this post, I’m going to share with you, based on the advice from snake expert Dr. Tim Erickson, exactly what to do and what not to do if you get bitten by a snake. Let’s get started!

Don’t Panic

Not freaking out after getting bitten by a snake is much easier said than done. However, try to remind yourself that the odds of you surviving a snake bite are in your favor.

It’s actually quite possible (up to 30-40% chance according to Dr. Erickson) you experienced a dry bite, and you’re not at all envenomated.

Most deaths from rattlesnakes occur between 6-48 hours. and if anti-venom is provided within 2 hours of the bite you have more than 99% chance of recovering.

Let Someone Else Get Help

Once you gather yourself let other hikers get help while you remain situated. You want to restrict movement as much as possible to decrease your heart rate.

It’s okay to drink water or other oral fluids as you wait.

If you’re hiking alone, don’t stay put. You have roughly 4-6 hours before you’ll begin to notice swelling in the arms or legs. Head back to a location where you can find help as soon as possible.

Lower The Wound Below The Heart

One of the few things you can do yourself, besides calling 911, is to lower the wound below the level of the heart to decelerate the distribution of the poison in your body.

Don’t Try to Suck the Poison From The Wound

Dr. Erickson emphasized this point by stating that the human mouth contains more bacteria than the snake’s mouth and could potentially cause more harm to the wound. We see this a lot in the movies, but it’s not helpful. It’s a tactic to dramatize Hollywood scenes.

Don’t Cut Any Part of Your Wound

This is another common myth for treating snake wounds. If you use a knife to cut around the wound, you may sever vitaly important structures such as arteries, tendons, ligaments etc that could have much more serious consequences than the snake bite itself.

Do Not Apply Ice to The Snake Bite

Applying ice to the wound, also known as cryotherapy, was at one point believed to be helpful. While it may still provide benefits for treating bee or spider bites, it’s actually discouraged for treating snake bites because it will do more harm than good.

Don’t Try to Capture the Snake

Dr. Erickson debunks the myth which claims it’s necessary to capture the snake that bit you and take it to the emergency room for identification purposes. Please do not try to capture the snake.

The professionals at the nearest hospital will be able to identify the snake based on the habitat you were hiking in the moment you were bitten.

Don’t Use a Suction Device

Suction devices were originally thought to be effective by allowing a small amount of the injected venom to be removed from the wound. More recent studies have concluded that such is not the case.

Using a suction device will not necessarily hurt you, but it’s useless to say the least.

Don’t Use a Tourniquet On The Snake Bite

Because hospitals and clinics are fairly close to almost any location, Dr. Erickson states you should refrain from using a tourniquet. However, the only exception to this rule is if you’re located somewhere extremely remote.

Only then, will a tourniquet be necessary to risk a limb to save your life. Additionally, if you must apply a tourniquet, do so loosely. You can use a rag, clothing, or the tubing from your camelback.

In most situations a tourniquet will result in more damage to the afflicted area via over constriction of the limb, and reduce healing.

Should You Carry Anti-Venom on Your Hikes?

Anti-venom, also known as antivenin, possesses its own set of risks. Anti-venom is taken from animals such as horses and sheep, and when administered to humans, the person may experience an allergic reaction.

Hence, it’s best to give anti-venom to people at a hospital setting. Once again, he reiterated, the best thing you can do if you get bit in the wild is to dial 911 and/or get to the hospital immediately.

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However, if you insist on utilizing an anti-venom, Crofab, an anti-venom distribution company, has created a much more purified type of anti-venom that has successfully decreased the possibility of an allergic reaction.

Dr. Erickson recommends looking for evidence of envenomation by checking for swelling (usually occurring in the arms), blistering, or lab abnormalities that reflect a systemic or total body envenomation prior to applying the anti-venom.

Unfortunately, Crofab is quite pricey, costing as high as a few hundred dollars per dose.

When administering Crofab, the objective is to treat the venom not the individual. In other words, a child would receive the same dosage of antivenom as an adult because the snake releases the same amount of venom regardless of the size of the person.

What to do if You See a Snake on a Hike

If you see a snake on the trail or near it, make sure to give it plenty of space. They can strike at a distance of half their body length.

The best thing you can do is wait for it to slither away or go around it if it’s possible.

A rattlesnake will NOT always rattle before it strikes. This means you should be extra careful where you place your hands and feet when scrambling up any steep sections on a trail.

How to Prevent Snake Bites During Your Hikes

  1. Snakes are more active at night. Therefore, avoiding hiking at night in areas that are known to contain snakes.
  2. Make a little noise as you hike to give the snake a chance to crawl away. Most snakes want nothing to do with humans, and will avoid us as much as possible.
  3. Stay on the trail. It is much more difficult to spot a snake in thick brush than it is to spot them on the hiking trail.

If you wish to see Dr. Erickson speak about snake bites, you can do so here.

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How To Avoid Snakes While Hiking: The Definitive Guide

avoid snakes while hiking

Log enough miles hiking, and you’re bound to see a snake or two. They’re masters of camouflage and can be hard to spot, but with a little bit of knowledge and preparation, you can avoid snakes while hiking altogether.

First off, not all snakes are venomous, but it’s still important to be able to identify them just in case.

In the United States, there are four venomous snakes that hikers should be aware of when out in the wilderness: the rattlesnake, the copperhead, the cottonmouth (also known as a water moccasin), and the coral snake.

How to identify poisonous snakes

One of the easiest and fastest ways to identify a poisonous snake is by looking at its head. All venomous snakes in the United States have triangular-shaped heads. Non-venomous snakes have more rounded heads.

Now let’s take a closer look at each of those four species of snakes to get a better idea of what to look out for.

How to identify a Rattlesnake

rattlesnake while hiking

The rattlesnake is one of the most common and easily identifiable venomous snakes in North America. They’re easily recognizable by their trademark rattle at the end of their tail. The rattle is used to warn predators and prey of its presence.

If you’re lucky enough to see a rattlesnake before it sees you, look for the following defining characteristics:

  • Rattlesnakes are typically brown or black in color, but can also be green, gray, or red
  • They have a thick body and blunt nose
  • Their eyes are set deep into their head
  • They have large scales on their back

How to identify a Copperhead snake

copperhead snake while hiking

Copperheads are the most common venomous snake in the eastern United States. They’re typically brown or reddish in color, and can be identified by their copper-colored head.

Other identifying features of a copperhead include:

  • They have a narrow body
  • Their eyes are set close together
  • They have small scales on their back
  • They typically coil up when they’re threatened
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How to identify a Water Moccasin (Cottonmouth)

water moccasin while hiking

Water moccasins, also known as cottonmouths, are venomous snakes found in the southeastern United States. They’re typically black or dark brown in color, and often found around water.

Other identifying features of a water moccasin include:

  • They have a thick body
  • Their eyes are set far apart
  • They have large scales on their back
  • They typically have a dark banded pattern

How to identify a coral snake

coral snake while hiking

Coral snakes are venomous snakes found in the southern United States. They’re typically red, yellow, and black in color, and can be identified by their bright red and yellow bands.

Other identifying features of a coral snake include:

  • They have a thin body
  • Their eyes are set close together
  • They have small scales on their back
  • They are typically multi-colored and striped

Should I be afraid of snakes while hiking?

The short answer is: no. With a little bit of knowledge and preparation, you can easily avoid snakes while hiking. And even if you do come across one, most snakes are shy and will try to avoid contact with humans as long as you don’t do anything to provoke them.

That said, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and know how to identify venomous snakes just in case. So if you’re hiking in an area where venomous snakes are known to live, make sure to take the necessary precautions and be alert.

How do you avoid snakes while hiking?

Although you shouldn’t be fearful of snakes while hiking, your number one priority should be to avoid snakes while hiking in the first place, primarily if venomous snakes are known to roam the area.

Here are a few tips for avoiding snakes while hiking:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and know how to identify venomous snakes.
  • Stay on the beaten path as much as possible.
  • Hike with others if you can, which helps to discourage wildlife encounters.
  • If you see a snake, give it a wide berth and avoid sudden movements.
  • Don’t reach into areas you can’t see – many snakes like to hide in tall grass or logs.
  • Use trekking poles or a walking stick to help you see snakes before they see you.
  • Wear boots and long pants to help protect your legs.
  • If you see a snake, back away slowly and give it plenty of space.
  • Carry a Snake Bite Kit, just in case.

Do hiking boots protect against snake bites?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Some people believe that hiking boots offer some protection against snake bites, while others claim that they provide no real protection at all.

While I believe there is definitely more protection in hiking boots than hiking in Crocs, for example, there are certain species of snakes whose fangs will be able to penetrate even the thickest of hiking boots, so it’s always best to take precaution, regardless.

Hiking boots are not snake-proof, but they can offer some level of protection.

The bottom line is that there is no foolproof way to avoid being bitten by a snake, no matter what you’re wearing.

What time of day are snakes the most active?

Believe it or not, most snake species are typically more active when it’s not too hot out, and they can find cooler places to hide. This means that you’re likely to see more activity from snakes during the early morning and evening hours. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, so it’s always best to be aware of the specific species of snake you’re bound to find depending on your trail.

So if you’re looking for a good time to hike to avoid snakes on your trail, try planning your trip during the afternoon hours.

snakes while hiking

What should you do if you see a snake while hiking?

If you see a snake while hiking, the best thing to do is give it a wide berth and avoid making any sudden movements. Some suggest stomping around the area to scare the snake away, but this might only provoke the snake and could lead to a bite if you’re not careful.

Remember, most snakes are shy and try to avoid contact with humans. If they notice you, they’ll tend to slither away to safety. There is no need to be afraid of snakes, as long as you take the necessary precautions and know your surroundings.

Are snakes scared of humans?

For the most part, snakes just want to mind their own business and would rather not have to deal with us. However, snakes, including poisonous snakes, do have various reactions to encountering humans. Some will flee, some will stand their ground, and some will act aggressively. Whether or not a snake is scared of a human depends on its personality and past experiences with humans.

Some people believe that ALL snakes are automatically scared of humans because they are taller and larger. However, this is not always the case. For example, a snake that lives near humans may not be scared of them because it has become used to seeing and interacting with them. Conversely, a snake that has been otherwise threatened by a human may be scared of all humans.

So, will a snake chase you?

It depends on the individual snake’s personality and experiences. If you are near a snake and it feels scared or threatened, it may act aggressively or flee. However, if you leave the snake alone, it will probably not chase you.

Can you outrun a snake?

For the most part, yes. Snakes are actually relatively slow, especially when compared to other animals. They typically travel between 1 to 3 miles per hour, so if you’re running at full speed, you should be able to outrun them.

However, there are a few types of snakes that can move a bit faster. The Black Mamba snake, for example, can reach speeds of up to twelve miles per hour. If you’re unlucky enough to encounter one of these snakes, your best bet is to try and find some shelter and wait for it to go away.

Snakes aren’t a significant threat in general, and most people can easily outrun them. So don’t be too worried the next time you see one slithering by – just be careful not to step on it!

David Martirosian is an avid hiker and nature lover. Growing up in New York City, he gained an appreciation for getting lost in the wilderness, where he was able to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. David enjoys the peace and solitude that nature provides, and finds solace in the beauty of the natural world. When he’s not out exploring nature, David can be found learning about new adventures waiting to be explored.




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