Snake Bite Talk


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We don't have many snakes in the city, but you don't have to go far to find some rather nasty ones. Off the top of my head I think we have four or five of the top ten deadliest in my state, and two or three of them within an hours drive. Mainly we have to watch out for the duguite and death adder, with the taipan living further north. As bad as they are though, bites are rare as the population is quite sparse, and most people take reasonable precautions when in the bush.
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[FONT="Courier New" * We have rear fanged snakes like gopher snakes, lyre snakes, cat eye snakes, etc., who are mostly very secretive and rural and have few or no recorded fatalities.[/FONT][/QUOTE]

I am also quite secretive and rural, so I got to record a King snake fatal attack... on a rooster.

After the snake was chased out of the barnyard, one rooster stayed rooted to the ground as if hypnotized. He became incontinent of bowel and somehow made it into the coop by that evening, when I responded to a sudden uproar of clucking and general chicken panic. The patient was found prone on the floor, unresponsive, pulseless, and apneic. Physical exam revealed a puncture wound to the posterior neck.

Resuscitation was not attempted. Patient was transported over a distant cliff away from household pets.

As far as wilderness rattlesnake protocols go, Red Cross updated its WFA curriculum this year to (re)include light constricting bands proximal to the bite. There are some studies to support the practice: [URL=""]http:
but others show significantly more local necrosis, and I worry that it could result in sacrificing the limb for a theoretical risk to life (esp. since "light constricting band" gets translated to "tourniquet" by panicked flatlanders :angry:).
Personally I would judge each situation individually. A rattler bite with signs of actual envenomation in a small child four hours from the ER would probably get a band.

And even further off the record... Echinacea root has been found to inhibit hyaluronidase
and a topical application can limit tissue necrosis from snakebites, spiders, and staph. I carry powdered root in my personal backcountry kit (replace it every year).
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Still crazy but elsewhere
Echinnacea topical application

The NIH paper was about damaging a pig's vocal cord then applying the concotion to it to see if a subject's voice could be better restored versus recovery without. Snakebites and other envenomations are not superficial, and the insults they tested were not toxic. There is no scientific evidence as of now that any topical poultice will actually ameliorate a spider or snake or other subdermal envenomation.

Other poultices have included mashed boiled or refried beans (highly hygrophyllic), parts of the offending animal, onion and salt, and various combinations of medicinal plants. None prove truly effective against envenomated bites (and many bites are NOT envenomed); if you are interested in more about this sort of lore, read the FOXFIRE books, see this link:

I could have asked my grand-auntie in the Ozarks, but she died living (unbitten) amongst her yard -full of copperheds.