When prospecting out in the desert it is always a good idea to know what kind of snakes you might expect to see.
It’s even better to know what to do when you see them up close. In the America’s there are over 42 species and subspecies of rattlesnake with 16 of them call the USA home. Every state except for Alaska, Maine and Hawaii have a venomous snake of some kind. Do you know where rattlesnakes are most commonly found? Do you know what to do if you or someone with you has been bitten by one? This article will give you a better understanding about snake safety and what to do if you are ever in close proximity to one.
First things first, don’t ever provoke a snake. If it’s not bothering you, don’t bother it. We believe in keeping our snake karma up and the best way to do that is be respectful to our slithery friends.
Over the years we have run into our fair share of snakes and have never had a problem with them, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared to deal with an angry rattler.
Generally when prospecting in the West snake safety means rattlesnake safety. Rattlesnakes are the most diverse of all these snakes roaming from Southwestern Canada to Argentina. In the United States they are mostly found in the southern regions. When we are roaming around in the desert we always keep a ear out for a rattlesnake nearby. Before we enter a mine we always toss a rock in to see if there is an unsuspecting snake. Once I repelled down a mine shaft and there were baby rattlesnakes climbing up the sides of the walls! Fortunately, I was able to do a quick change over and safely exit the shaft. In Arizona we’ve run into snakes underneath our four-wheeler looking to get out of the hot sun. Several times we’ve seen/heard them inside a mine adit and were able to work around them. Snakes want to get out of the hot desert heat just like you, and they will find nice cool shady spots. So next time you want to cool down under a tree or in a mine, do yourself a favor and check to see if the spot is already occupied.
If you are ever bitten by a venomous snake the best thing you can do is seek medical help ASAP. Minimize moment if possible, split or sling the bitten area and remove any restricting clothing around the bite. Apply firm pressure to the bite or a pressure bandage, be sure to make a note of any inflammation by tracing the bite mark with a pen. This will help medical examiners treat your wound. Stay calm and don’t raise your injured body part above your head. Remember most bites can be treated successfully within the first few hours.
Be sure to NOT take any pain relievers or aspirin. No tourniquets or snake bite kits, as these are ineffective and outdated. Do not wash the infected area, traces of venom left on the skin/bandages from the snake can be used to identify the snake. This speeds determines which anti-venom to administer.
The most important thing to remember about snakes, or any animal, is they are afraid of you as much as you are afraid of them. Keep an eye/ear out for them and keep your distance. There is no reason why you both can’t enjoy the desert together.
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