What you should know about rattlesnakes before hitting the trails

Jul 23, 2023, 7:00 AM

SALT LAKE CITY -- These high temperatures are bringing out several cold-blooded natives of the stat...

Rattlesnake (Jack Spencer)

(Jack Spencer)

SALT LAKE CITY — These high temperatures are bringing out several cold-blooded natives of the state… rattlesnakes. Snakes are out in abundance this summer joining the growing number of people hitting the trails. In a press release, Wildlife specialist Nicki Frey wrote that as the number of snakes increases, so do the snakebites. 

But first, avoid

Lucky for us, not every snake you encounter on the trail may be venomous. Frey writes that “only seven of the 31 species (in Utah) produce venom.” Tack on the fact that most Utah snakes only come out at night, and hopefully, you’ll never have to face the fangs. 

The snake to look out for is, of course, rattlesnakes. Frey writes that though they are dangerous, they are also timid, and receiving an unprovoked bite is rare. 

However, it’s safest to do your best to avoid an encounter altogether. Frey wrote a few tips to steer clear.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. (Snakes typically like warm, rocky areas.)
  • Admire the scales from a distance. 
  • Don’t touch the snake. (Seriously.)
  • Freeze if you hear rattling and look around before leaving the area. You don’t want to end up walking closer to the snake.  

How to treat a snake bite

If all else fails and you do end up getting bit by a rattlesnake, here is what you should do.

  • Jump into action. The bite should be treated immediately by washing it with soap and water or alcohol. Wrap it up with a bandage to protect it from dirt or other infection.
  • Take a picture of the snake. It is helpful to know what kind of snake it is, as different venoms affect the body in different ways.
  • Do not 
  • DO NOT: apply a tourniquet, use venom extractors, slice the wound to increase bleeding, or apply ice.
  • Get to a hospital as soon as you can. If you are not near one, call 911 for someone to meet you. Frey also recommended calling ahead to the nearest hospital for them to prepare the anti-venom.
  • Stay calm.

Happy hiking!

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What you should know about rattlesnakes before hitting the trails