What To Do If You See A Rattlesnake While Hiking?

You’re a hiking aficionado–you love getting out in nature and exploring the world around you. But what if you encounter a rattlesnake while on the trail? In this article, we’ll talk about what to do if you see a rattlesnake while hiking, and why there’s no reason to be afraid as long as you keep your distance.

What You’ll Learn Today

How Do You Protect Yourself From Rattlesnakes While Hiking?

how do you protect yourself from rattlesnakes while hiking

No one wants to get bit by a rattlesnake. Fortunately, there are things you can do and precautions you can take to keep yourself safe while out hiking.

Follow these safety tips to protect yourself from rattlesnakes:

  • Wear boots: Most people get bit when they accidentally step on rattlesnakes, so proper foot protection is imperative. Wear good-quality hiking boots that completely cover your feet and protect the ankles.
  • Wear loose-fitting pants: Rattlesnakes often strike the legs below the knees as well. If you’re wearing thick but loose-fitting pants, there’s a good chance the rattler will end up biting your pants instead of your flesh.
  • Don’t hike alone: There are many reasons why it’s good to have a hiking buddy when you’re out in the wilderness. One of those reasons is so they can help you get to safety in the event you are bitten and begin experiencing symptoms.
  • Stay on the trail: You’re less likely to encounter rattlesnakes if you stay on well-traveled paths with a greater amount of foot traffic. Rattlesnakes tend to avoid people if possible, so your chances of taking them by surprise and provoking an attack are much higher if you leave the paths and encroach on their territory.
  • Check everything: Rattlesnakes like to hide in things like camping gear, hollow logs, and under rocks. Always check your gear and any potential hiding places along the trail–for example, if you’re going to sit down on a log to rest, first move it aside with a stick to make sure there are no rattlers hiding under it.
  • Listen for a rattling noise: It’s important to be aware of your surroundings, and listening for the telltale rattling of a rattlesnake’s tail is often one of your first signs of danger. Keep your ears open, and as soon as you hear the rattling, attempt to locate the snake visually so you can keep your distance.
  • Watch for rattlesnakes: Rattlesnakes don’t always coil up and start rattling before they strike, so it isn’t enough just to listen for them. Rattlesnakes can be difficult to see because they camouflage well; but keep your eyes open and don’t get close if you see a rattler crossing your path.

What to Do If You See a Rattlesnake on a Hike

what to do if you see a rattlesnake on a hike

This excellent article from Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources outlines what you should and should not do if you encounter a rattlesnake. Let’s take a look at some of the do’s and don’ts.

What to Do:

  • Stay calm: The most important thing you can do if you see a snake is to remain calm and avoid panicking. If you panic, you may forget what to do, and your behavior may startle the snake and prompt an attack that you could have avoided had you remained calm.
  • Keep your distance: Rattlesnakes can lunge forward as much as half to two-thirds their own body length when striking. If you see a rattlesnake, whether it’s coiled and rattling or simply slithering across the path, try to stay at least 5 feet away from it to avoid being attacked.
  • Back away from the snake: If you’re already too close by the time you see the snake, don’t get any closer. Instead, begin backing away slowly, keeping your eyes on the snake and attempting to avoid frightening it.
  • Leave the area: As soon as you are a safe distance away, turn and get further away as quickly as possible. Stay alert for other snakes in the area as you are leaving.

What NOT to Do:

  • Throw things at the snake: Throwing rocks or other objects at the snake will not keep it away; instead, you may provoke an attack, as the snake may feel threatened and unable to escape.
  • Attempt to kill it: Killing rattlesnakes is illegal in many regions, and attempting to do so will require you to get closer to the snake–potentially putting yourself at greater risk of being bitten.
  • Tease or provoke it: You should never do anything to tease or provoke a snake, especially if it’s already coiled up and ready to strike. Rattlesnake venom can be deadly; rattlesnakes should be respected, not taunted.
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For more information on avoiding rattlesnakes when out on the trail, check out this video.

How Do You Keep Snakes Away While Hiking?

Rattlesnakes aren’t very aggressive–they will tend to run away if they see or hear you coming. There really isn’t anything you can do to make them run away–they will do this on their own if you give them the opportunity.

The best thing you can do is be aware of their presence and show them respect if you see them. Try to keep your distance and they will be more inclined to slither away than to stay and fight.

For added safety on the trail, consider using hiking poles or walking sticks. You can use these sticks to scan the area in front of you, so they may help you discover snakes sooner or convince them to run away before you step on them.

Should You Be Afraid of Snakes While Hiking?

There is no need to be afraid as long as you’re aware.

Rattlesnakes don’t want to encounter you anymore than you want to encounter them. Keep your eyes and ears open and keep your distance if you see or hear a rattlesnake.

Make sure you’re well-protected with appropriate clothing, and always hike with someone else in case you are bit and need help getting to a hospital.

As long as you take the appropriate precautions as outlined in this article, you have nothing to fear from encountering rattlesnakes on the hiking trail.


There are many things you can do to protect yourself from rattlesnakes while you’re out hiking. Some of the best things to do are to wear protective clothing, stay alert, and attempt to maintain your distance anytime you see a rattler.

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What to do if bitten by a rattlesnake while hiking


Rattlesnakes are a danger to hikers, but the good news is that they can be avoided if you’re careful. The bad news is that there’s no way to know if one is nearby or has already bitten you—so it’s important to know what to do in either case.

It’s important to know how to avoid being bitten, but it’s also helpful to know what to do if you encounter a rattlesnake and get bitten.

If you’re bitten by a rattlesnake, it’s important to know what to do.

First, it’s helpful to understand the way that snakes behave in order to avoid being bitten.

Snakes are mostly nocturnal and spend most of their time inside burrows or under rocks or logs for protection from the sun during the day. They will also use these hiding places as ambush locations for prey when they come near at night.

A snake will often lie motionless in its hiding place until something walks past it and triggers its strike response, which causes them to leap from their spot and bite their prey with venomous fangs at lightning speed (often before the person even knows they were there).

If you see a snake during daylight hours, it is likely sleeping and should not be approached unless you have reason to believe otherwise—for instance if you see an open gash on its back where an injury has occurred recently or if it appears sickly in some way (unusual behavior like swaying or blinking excessively may also indicate illness).

Assess the situation

The first thing you should do after being bitten by a rattlesnake is assess the situation. If it’s possible to safely move away from where you were bitten, do so immediately. Look for the snake and try to remember if there were two puncture wounds on your skin: one at the site of impact and another in front of it (for example, if your upper arm was bitten, this would be an underarm bite). It’s important to note that no matter what type of snake bit you, a dry bite isn’t guaranteed—so pay attention to how much venom comes out during an attack. Also keep track of when the bite happened; this will help determine whether or not antivenom is necessary for treatment.

1. Look for the snake

Look for the snake. If you’re bitten by a rattlesnake, there’s a chance that it was still in the area when you were bitten. If you can see it, or if it ran off after biting you, look around carefully to see if there are any other snakes nearby.

If you can’t find your attacker’s body but think that it might still be nearby, don’t move until someone else comes along who can help locate the snake’s hiding place (and take care of whatever needs taking care of).

2. Remember, a snakebite requires two puncture wounds

The second puncture wound is the fang, which injects venom into a victim. It is important to note that rattlesnakes do not inject their venom with a single bite; instead, they use two small fangs (called the maxillary teeth) to create two holes in your skin. One of these holes contains the venom gland and its ducts, while the other contains poison sacs filled with foul-smelling fluid that can cause tissue destruction as well as help spread infection if left untreated.

It’s also worth noting that you don’t need to be bitten by both maxillary teeth for your body to react negatively—being bitten once on either side will make an adverse effect on your health.

3. A dry bite isn’t guaranteed

A dry bite means that the snake didn’t inject venom. This can be a good thing, as it is less dangerous than an envenomation. However, you should still seek medical attention just in case. A dry bite can still cause infection and swelling, as well as tissue damage from the fangs digging into your skin.

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It’s important to know this because if you do experience a dry bite and go home thinking everything is fine, it’s possible that something will develop later on down the road (like an infection).

4. Pay attention to your body’s physical response to the bite

If you’re bitten by a rattlesnake, you may experience intense pain and swelling. These are important signs that the venom is working—but they may also be signs of shock. In fact, your body’s response to any kind of wound or injury can indicate whether or not you’re in shock. If you notice any of the following symptoms after being bitten by a rattlesnake:

  • Sweating
  • Shivering
  • Feeling nauseous or dizzy

Then it’s highly likely that you’re in shock, which can cause serious medical complications if left untreated! If any of these symptoms appear while hiking near snakes, check your pulse right away (for example, if it’s under 60 beats per minute). If it is indeed lower than normal and/or there are other signs of an overall physical response to the bite (such as sweating), call 911 immediately and do not attempt to drive yourself anywhere unless absolutely necessary.

5. Check your watch or phone for the time of the bite

You should also check your watch or phone for the time of the bite. Knowing when you were bitten will help doctors determine how long it took for the venom to spread through your body, which can be helpful in treating you.

6. Remain calm and sit down immediately

These medical treatments may actually do more harm than good. Instead, stay calm, sit down and try to relax as much as possible. This will help your body use its own resources to fight off the venom.

7. Keep the bite below your heart level

  • Keep the bite below your heart level. The venom will travel up the lymphatic system, so it’s important to keep the wound below your heart level.
  • If you can’t get out of that area right away, try to find a sturdy object and lean on it while keeping the bite as low as possible on your body.

The venom will travel through your body at a rate of about two centimeters per hour if there’s no pressure on it (such as being strapped into a gurney). By putting pressure on the wound, you can slow down how quickly the venom spreads throughout your body by reducing its ability to move through lymph nodes into other parts of the body.

8. Remove any jewelry or loose clothing in case of swelling

  • Remove any jewelry or loose clothing in case of swelling.

It is important to remove any jewelry and/or clothing that could get caught on something, as this could exacerbate the wound and cause more damage. Also, if you have a tight piece of clothing on (such as skinny jeans), it is best to remove them because they can restrict circulation and increase swelling.

9. Call 911 or have a hiking partner call 911 while you stay as still as possible till help arrives

  • Call 911, or have a hiking partner call 911 while you stay as still as possible till help arrives.
  • Sit down and try to remain calm. This is important because it can keep your heart rate low, which in turn will help keep the venom from spreading throughout your body. It is also important that you don’t remove any jewelry or loose clothing on the affected limb — this could cause further damage to the area around the bite and may increase how much venom enters your system.
  • Rattlesnake are dangerous, but knowing what to do if you’re bit can help get you appropriate treatment.
  • The best way to avoid getting bitten is to stay away from areas where rattlesnakes might reside, like woodpiles and rock piles. Rattlesnakes like to hide in places that offer shade and cover, so if you see one in the open, it is likely sick or injured. This is why you should never try to handle a rattlesnake on your own—these creatures are usually very defensive and will strike out at anyone who comes too close.
  • If you do get bit by a rattlesnake while hiking, wrap a clean cloth around the bite wound, keep it below your heart level (to keep blood pressure down), and call for help immediately!


This guide is intended to help hikers identify rattlesnake bites and know what to do if they get bitten. It can be a scary situation, but by knowing what to do in advance and remaining calm, you can greatly increase your chances of survival.

Note: GearOdds.com is a reader-supported website. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Check disclaimer.

Hi, I’m Matthew, a passionate blogger and traveler. I’m also a hard-core hiker. Hiking with friends and visiting new places is what I live for. Currently, I’m working at Gear Odds Co., Ltd. as CEO & Columnist. I would like to provide my best outdoor experience possible.

What To Do If Bitten By A Rattlesnake While Hiking? What You Should Follow

What To Do If Bitten By A Rattlesnake While Hiking What You Should Follow

To start with, what to do if bitten by a rattlesnake while hiking?

Initially, you need to understand how to identify a snake bite. Knowing whether the injury was actually caused by a snake bite is crucial. If you were present when it happened, you can proceed to the next step with confidence. If you weren’t present when someone was bitten, look for evidence of the two-fang bite mark. Additionally, the bite area may swell and hurt moderately to severely.

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Along with twitching skin, you should also keep an eye out for skin discoloration, which indicates the presence of venom. The victim may also experience other symptoms such as abnormal mental state, sweating, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and slurred speech. If the warning signs and symptoms are present, you should continue if the bite was indeed caused by a snake.

For more information, keep reading.

Table of Contents

What To Do If Bitten By A Rattlesnake While Hiking?

  • Severe or even life-threatening symptoms may appear minutes after the bite, or they may start to appear a few hours later in other cases. As a result, you should seek immediate medical attention.

What Not To Do?

Never attempt to cup the wound open. If possible, avoid sucking the venom out. You have to be aware that if any tissues inside your mouth are cut or otherwise damaged by the venom, you could be in serious danger.
Another major error is using any kind of ointment. Giving the patient any alcohol is the same as not giving it to them. To clean the wound, just use water and soap.

What To Do If Bitten By A Rattlesnake While Hiking What You Should Follow

What To Do If Bitten By A Rattlesnake While Hiking? What You Should Follow

Medical Management

In addition to the likelihood that the snake is not a poisonous variety, it is common for venom to not actually be transmitted in a bite. The need for hospital management would still exist even if the snake were not poisonous because the wound would still need to be attended to and tetanus shots (depending on how long ago you received the shots) would still need to be given. The fact that a snake bite can cause tetanus shocks many people.

If the snake’s poisonousness has been established and the venom has been administered, antivenom is necessary. But it’s important to keep in mind that not all hospitals might have easy access to antivenom. Therefore, being knowledgeable about first aid can really save the victim, especially if it’s necessary to buy time between the time of the bite and when the victim gets to the hospital. See more about What Is Scramble In Hiking?

Top Tips To Prevent Rattlesnake Bites

Naturally, avoiding a snake bite is preferable to dealing with one. To lessen your risk of getting bitten by a snake while trail running, try these tips:

• Wherever you’re running, be aware that there may be snakes.

• Watch where you put your feet and take extra care around rocky, sunny, leafy, and log-crossed areas. Because there are more rocks and cracks and fewer people to scare the snakes away when you stray from the trail, your chances increase. When moving quickly through weeds and tall grass, be careful.

• Not over a rock or a log, but on it. This will enable you to quickly identify any snakes that might be hiding beneath it.

• You might be sitting on a snake if you take a seat on a rock or tree stump.

• The majority of snake bites occur when people attempt to chase snakes off of trails.

• On trails, either leave your headphones at home or take at least one earbud out.

• Snakes prefer to be near water, especially if it’s in a dry environment. Be extra cautious if you’re close to a spring or river.

• Snakes like to emerge during warm weather to sun themselves on rocky outcrops or trails because they have cold blood. The edge of a sunny area is where they prefer to be. Your chances of encountering someone rise if you come across a sunny area.

• In the US, the day is when venomous snakes typically rest. In the early mornings and late evenings, when they may be more active, there is a greater chance of encountering one.

• The number of sightings increases in the spring after snakes have shared a hibernation period. When they retreat to a hiding place in the fall to spend the chilly winter, they are more active, increasing the likelihood of running into a snake. Between April and October, the majority of snake bites happen.

• Invest in a 2-way satellite communicator, like the Garmin inReach. This makes it possible for you to connect to a Search and Rescue Monitoring Center around the clock and stay in touch from anywhere in the world, including from far-off trails without cell phone service.

The End

What should I do to avoid and treat a snake bite? is a question that hikers and climbers frequently ask. The majority of hikers are actually ill-prepared for snake bites. Hikers rarely encounter snakes up close and personal in most cases. Contrary to popular belief, snakes can be both aggressive and defensive when their territory is threatened. It is a common misconception that snakes are more afraid of humans than of other animals. Recently, we had the opportunity to take a once-in-a-lifetime rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, and let me tell you, I was constantly on the lookout for snakes.

Knowing what to do right away is crucial if there is a bite as a result of this interaction. Alternatively, the venom of a number of common American snakes (like rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads) can result in serious injury, limb loss, or even death.

Source https://www.forestwildlife.org/what-to-do-if-you-see-a-rattlesnake-while-hiking/

Source https://gearodds.com/what-to-do-if-bitten-by-a-rattlesnake-while-hiking/

Source https://www.rockoutdoors.net/what-to-do-if-bitten-by-a-rattlesnake/

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