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Staying Safe from Snakes in Tennessee

What to do for Snakebites




Photo Courtesy of U.S. Fish Wildlife
The First thing to do is remain calm. You have been bitten by a snake and there is nothing you can do to reverse it. Snakebites in Tennessee carry a lower risk of death, than just getting into a car and driving through rush hour traffic. Your most severe problem is not the chance of death, but tissue damage to the bite area.

  • Remove all Jewelry around or above the bite area. More than likely your worst problem from the bite will be swelling.

  • Keep the Bite area below the Heart.

  • Do not apply a tourniquet; if you restrict the flow of venom into a small area, then you will suffer greater tissue damage to the bite area.

  • Do not give the victim aspirin; it will thin the blood, and cause the venom to spread more than it normally would. The same applies for giving the victim alcohol.

  • Do not try to capture the snake. Antivenom is the same for all Tennessee snakes; so capturing is a futile attempt, and only heightens the chances of a second snakebite victim.

  • The telltale signs of a venomous snakebites are swelling and an intense burning sensation of the bite area.

  • Do not try to suck out the venom. By cutting the bite area, you suffer a greater chance of dying from blood poisoning than from the bite itself.

  • Do not apply ice to the bite area.. The most severe problem with snakebites is tissue damage. The application of ice greatly increases the chances of amputation of the limb containing the bite area.

The most recent snakebite remedy involved the application of high voltage DC current to the bite area. Snake venom carries 7 different chemicals that have yet to be identified and some people reported the application of high voltage DC Current seemed to deactivate the venom. In reality, more people died from applying high voltage AC current instead of DC current, then people who just went to the doctor. In simple words of advice, "Just calmly go to the Doctor." Most of the time antivenom will not even be administered. They will more than likely just monitor your blood pressure and the swelling, and then send you home in the morning.

If you happen to have a pet snake and are thinking of becoming a herpetologist who handles Hot snakes (venomous) then the best thing that you can do, is to buy the most aggressive nonvenomous snake, and each time you are bitten by it, write down a note and affix it to the snakes cage stating " I could be dead right now." At the end of the year, evaluate whether you really want a hot snake.

In Tennessee it is illegal to harm, kill, remove from the wild, or possess native snakes taken from the wild without the proper permits

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