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Rattlesnakes have a flattened, triangular shaped head with a heat-sensing device located between the nostril and eye on each side that is used to locate and trail prey. Different species of rattlesnakes can be of different lengths, with the Western Diamondback growing up from 10 inches at birth to 6 feet in length. The most common rattlesnakes include the Western Diamondback, Mohave, Sidewinder, Black- tailed, Speckled and Tiger. Rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal but can be extremely painful. Caution and common sense should be used. Most bites happen when you accidentally or purposely disturb or handle or play with the snake. It’s far better to walk around or avoid it. Extra caution should be taken, especially when daytime temperature stays above 82o F. or 28o C. Baby rattlesnakes are typically born at the end of July and can bite at birth. The shaking of the rattle can serve as a warning but rattlesnakes can strike without warning or making any sound. They can strike ¼ to ½ of their body length. Coloring varies by species, but most blend with their environments, so they are extremely hard to see. If you must kill them, wear protective clothing and use a shovel to decapitate them. Remember, even a severed head can still strike and kill!

General Signs and Symptoms of a Snake Bites

L Immediate pain or a burning sensation generally will occur at the site of the bite.
Fang marks are usually visible.
A metallic or rubbery taste in the mouth.
Significant swelling within minutes.
Muscle weakness, sweating and/or chills, nausea and vomiting.

Note: A small percentage of rattlesnake bites are "dry," meaning that the snake has not injected venom. But always seek medical help immediately. Remember, protocols may vary from one hospital to another, so ask for the newest treatment. The venom injected contains several enzymes designed to attack tissue damage. The venom may also contain components that cause blood thinning and other effects on the body. The average cost to treat a venomous snake bite can be between $15,000 and $20,000 without medical complications, but almost half of the treated bites can become complicated, e.g., an allergic reaction to horse-based sera or to the venom itself. 95% of snake bites occur below the knees or below the elbows, so protect yourself!


K Don't apply ice to the bite site or immerse the bite in a bucket of ice.
K Don't use a constricting band/cloth or tourniquet. Do not restrict blood flow in any manner.
K Don't cut the bite site or try to suck out the venom. Leave it bite site alone!
K Don't use electric shock or stun guns of any kind.
K Don't try to capture the snake to bring it to the hospital.
J Do, if you are sensitive, take 2 - 3 droppers full of tincture of echinacea every hour for up to 12 hours in order to quickly activate the immune system.
J Do take high doses of vitamin C for its beneficial anti-allergy and antihistamine effects.
J Do use chewed crushed plantain leaves as they have anti-inflammatory, antitoxic and antibacterial effects.

Seek medical help from a hospital emergency room or physician immediately. Back away quickly to prevent being bitten again. Identify the snake if you can. Rinse the bite area. Clean with soap and water or an antiseptic; apply a bandage or clean cloth. Remove constrictive items. Monitor for allergic reaction and/or shock. If possible and safe, remove venom. Keep victim as calm, relaxed and quiet as possible. Immobilize and splint the bitten extremity and then keep it below heart level. Don't allow the victim to drink alcohol, eat food or take any medications. You need to be evaluated and perhaps be administered antivenin. Move slowly if necessary to get help. You have time to reach medical care. Don't panic. Stay as calm as possible. If bitten on the hand, remove all jewelry before swelling begins. You can take echinacea internally and externally. Take high doses of vitamin C. Freshly crushed or chewed plantain leaves can be applied as a poultice. You can also make a daily poultice of echinacea, comfrey and/or calendula.

Lizard Bites from Gila Monsters

This large, heavy-bodied lizard displays contrasting markings of pink, yellow, orange and black. It measures up to 2 feet long and weights up to 2 pounds. It is the only venomous lizard in the United States, and it is a shy creature. Bites usually only happen when it is cornered or picked up. The Gila monster prefers canyon bottoms, rocky areas and outlying desert residential areas. It spends less than 2 weeks per year above ground. From early March to mid-May, Gila monsters are active during the day and this changes to nighttime beginning with the monsoons.

Signs and Symptoms of a Gila Monster Bite

A bite produces intense pain within 30 seconds, followed by swelling, weakness, dizziness, nausea and chills.


Once a Gila monster bites, it does not generally let go. Therefore, you or someone with you may have to pull it off. The longer it remains on you, the more venomous the bite. Once off, wash the bite site with soap and water or an antiseptic to help remove some of the venom from the bite site. Apply ice or cold compresses to the area to help keep the venom localized. Do not wait for symptoms to occur: go to the closest medical facility or physician for treatment.


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