[pct-l] Rattlesnakes //// Re: Pct-L Digest, Vol 100, Issue 19

jcil000-hiker at yahoo.com jcil000-hiker at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 18 12:40:30 CDT 2016

Anyone who says that rattlesnakes are not something to be concerned about is the same type of person who says that having navigation skills (compass/map AND gps)are not necessary because "you can't get lost." 
I met a lady just last year who had been hospitalized due to a rattlesnake bite. Shewas my first encounter first hand with a victim. Most of the time, I just read about bites.
So I inquired for details. 
The snake, she said, did NOT rattle before it bit her in the calf. (most bites occur betweenthe knee and the foot). It rattled after it had bit her. Its well known among anyone who paysattention to safety issues that rattlesnakes often do not rattle to warn you in advance. Its common.
The second thing that was interesting was that she knew within five minutes that she had actuallyreceived a dose of venom. In roughly half of rattlesnake bites, the bite is called a "dry bite" whichsimply means that venom had not be injected. Adult snakes are able to control whether they injectvenom or not. But the other half of bites do have venom injections.  Her symptoms began withtingling in the face and fingers. She then called 911 and advised she was in trouble.
The 911 dispatched an ambulance to the nearest parking area where she was parked. She wason a single track trail when it happened and somewhat close to the parking area. They hospitalizedher for FOUR days. 
I asked if the bite was considered by the medical staff to be average or moderate ... or severe.She said they told her it was a moderate level of bite and that if she had been out on her ownaway from medical evacuation, she could have died in the wild.
That incident took place, as I recall her saying, east of Sacramento, CA, in the foot hills.
The less important aspect of her bite was the pain. She said " it felt like two steak knivesjabbing into my leg at the same time... fast and painful."
Here's a known hint at hiking in rattlesnake territory. Don't step over a log. Step on top of thelog and look down before you plant your foot next to where a snake might be resting. And don't put your hands where you can't see such as into a rock pile. i.e. curiosity or whatever.
Google images for rattlesnake bites and witness the damage that comes about to a human hand or foot.And, be aware that the anti-venom that hospitals will administer to you prevent fatalities... but the shotsdo not stop the damage that the venom causes. One physician in Orange County, CA, (a snake biteexpert) warns that its not uncommon for victims to lose a finger or toes or even a part of a foot to the venom damage that then requires amputation.
The odds are you never will be bitten. But you could be. Rattlesnakes are not without risk on hikes.Preventive thoughts and preventive behavior will always be your best friend.

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