Most North American snakes do not attack or bite unless provoked. If you encounter a snake do not run. Remain calm and still – then back away slowly and carefully. In most cases, snakes will also back away.

Some ways to identify a venomous snake:

  • Rattles at the end of the tail,
  • Fangs in addition to their teeth,
  • Facial pits between the nostrils and eyes,
  • Vertical or elliptical pupils – non-venomous have round pupils,
  • A single row of scales near the tip of the tail – non-venomous have two rows of scales.

Snake Bite Avoidance 

When camping, consider the following:

  • Place your tent in a cleared area,
  • Most venomous snakes are active on warm nights – never step out of your tent barefoot.
  • Don’t sleep without a tent,
  • Keep the tent zipped up tight at all times – even when you are not in it,
  • Check your sleeping before crawling in,
  • Wear proper foot gear – such as hiking boots,
  • Avoid hiking in heavy brush,
  • Don’t reach into dark places,
  • Your body emits heat – this could attract a snake or a sasquatch (nothing else needs to be said)

Bitten By A Venomous Snake

Watch for the following symptoms:

  • excessive sweating,
  • fever,
  • increased thirst,
  • loss of muscle coordination,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • numbness and tingling,
  • rapid pulse,
  • If there are signs of shock – lay the camper on the back, raise the feet about the heart, and cover with a blanket. Get medical help.
  • bloody wound discharge,
  • fang marks on the skin and swelling at the site of the bite,
  • severe localized pain,
  • diarrhea,
  • burning,
  • convulsions,
  • fainting,
  • dizziness,
  • weakness,
  • blurred vision,


Seek medical assistance immediately. Consider the following:

  • If the site begins to swell or change colour – the snake is probably poisonous,
  • Do not cut into a snake bite and suck out the venom by mouth,
  • Restrict movement – keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom,
  • If you have a pump suction device – follow the manufacturer’s instructions,
  • Remove any rings or constricting items – before the affected area begins to swell,
  • Monitor vital signs,
  • Lay the camper on its back – raise the feet and cover them with a blanket,
  • Do not elevate the site of the bite above the level of the camper’s heart,
  • Bring the dead snake – only if it is safe to do so,
  • Do not apply a tourniquet or cold compress.


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