Rattlesnake Awareness

SUMMER IS HERE!!!

Nobody wants to be “that guy.” For all you Jessupites enjoying your summer, we here at WJU Campus Safety would like to remind you to be safe and watch out for snakes.

So the next time you are walking out to Lake Jessup and spot a snake, will you be able to tell if it is a rattler? Let’s find out…

IS IT A RATTLESNAKE OR ISN’T IT?

Identifying snakes by color or pattern can be difficult, especially when they are moving or only partly visible. While venomous snakes typically have triangular heads and “fatter” bodies, the only definitive characteristic of a rattlesnake that is easily recognized by the average person is the distinctive noise created by the rattle. However, on rare occasions rattlesnakes are found without a rattle so any unidentified snake should be avoided.

Here’s what to look for when classifying a snake in general:

Here’s what to look for when identifying a rattlesnake:

Beyond just the pattersn, a rattlesnake is a heavy-bodied, blunt-tailed snake with one or more rattles on the tail. It has a triangular-shaped head, much broader at the back than at the front, and a distinct “neck” region. The rattlesnake also has openings between the nostrils and eyes.

Rattlesnakes will make every effort to avoid contact with people. We are far more dangerous to this secretive animal than it is to us. In almost every case, we are treading on the snakes’ home territory when we encounter them. Their bite is a defensive reaction and should not be considered an act of aggression.

 

AVOIDING RATTLESNAKES/BITES

Rattlesnakes can be found in rock piles, woodpiles, shade areas when the temperatures are high and sunning themselves on rocks or in the middle of a trail during cool periods.

If you go where snakes are likely to be found:

1. Wear over-the-ankle or calf high boots and loose fitting long pants or chaps.

2. Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see. (Don’t place your hands on unseen ledges or into animal holes).

3. Don’t turn rocks or boards over with bare hands. Use a tool.

4. Avoid wandering around in the dark.

5. Step on logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks.

6. Avoid walking through dense brush or willow thickets, if you must use a long stick or branch to beat the brush before you as you go. Remember that the snake doesn’t want anything to do with you either.

7. Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.

8. If you spend a lot of time in “snake country”, locate a physician with snakebite treatment before hand, just in case, because even mild cases of envenomation often require eight or more vials of the anti-venom and sometimes these are in short supply

 

WHAT TO DO IN THE EVENT OF A SNAKE BITE

1. Try to remain calm and inactive.

2. Call 911.

3. Loosen or remove any restrictive clothing or jewelry (e.g. shoes, watch) from the area near the bite.

4. Watch the victim for signs of shock. Treat if necessary by lying flat with feet elevated and cover with warm clothes or blanket.

5. Identify or photograph the snake only if it remains visible from a safe distance.

 

WHAT NOT TO DO

1. Don’t make incisions over the snakebite.

2. Don’t constrict the flow of blood.

3. Don’t immerse a limb in ice water.

4. Don’t elevate the bitten area (this will increase the flow of venom to other tissues).

5. Don’t use your mouth to extract venom. Sucking out the venom is no longer a recommended practice, and wastes valuable time (commercial venom extractors like the Sawyer snake-bite kit may be somewhat helpful if used properly, but should not be relied on. The important thing is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible).

6. Don’t run or carry unnecessary items as you go for help, to avoid elevating your pulse rate.

7. Don’t try to catch or kill the snake.

8. Don’t administer any pain medications or antihistamines, unless instructed by a doctor or EMT

 

So remember… be safe! Have fun! And most importantly, don’t go playing with rattlesnakes. Unless you’re this guy…

 

-WJU Department of Campus Safety

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