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Article written by Kim MacCrone-CVT 

Okay, we all live in Arizona because the weather is almost perfect, the sun is almost always shining, the golf courses are luscious, there are multiple and beautiful wide open spaces and endless hiking trails! 

Surprisingly enough these are also places where some “not so delightful” inhabitants hang out in our state! You've heard the news this past week...... Snakes bites are on the rise!! Again! 
Here are a few simple tips to help keep you safe.

If you hike: 
 • Tap ahead of you with a walking stick before entering an area where you can't see your feet. Snakes will try to avoid you if given enough warning. • When hiking in an area known to have snakes, wear long pants and boots if possible
 • Consider purchasing a snake kit Avoid rock piles or tall green grass/bushes where snakes like to rest. 

About 150 people in Arizona are bitten every year. 
Some of Arizona’s rattlesnakes can also be lethal. 

Scottsdale is notorious for having snakebites and snake sightings. Just ask Angela Carlson, our Scottsdale Pet Sitter!  Santan Valley is also another hot spot. I'm pretty sure anywhere that homes are backed up against mountains or desert that there is a potential for a snake sighting, so be careful!

You are most likely to meet up with a rattlesnake on a summer evening after the sun has gone down, or during the warm days of the spring, winter and fall. There are a couple of ways you can tell if the snake you see is indeed a rattlesnake. First, look for a flat, triangular shaped head. Although, that is not conclusive. Many are tan or brown but not all. The best way to tell is to look for a rattler. Be careful, as the young rattlesnakes have not fully developed rattlers and may only have segments. No need to get too close. If you are unable, that’s good! Move the other direction! 

There are 17 types of rattlesnakes in Arizona. The Western Diamondback is the most common. This snake attains the largest size of any of the Arizona rattlesnakes, and most bites are attributed to this species. 
 They can grow to over five feet in length, but it is rare to see one that large that is not in captivity. 

Not quite as common, but definitely important to avoid, is the Mohave rattlesnake. The venom can affect the brain or spinal cord. The Mohave is usually very green in color and has wide, light bands at the base of the tail. Snake bites can be deadly! Especially to small children and pets due to their small size. 

Rattlesnakes have two retractable fangs that come out full force when attacking prey. Common prey are lizards, birds, rodents and some amphibians. Snakes generally only bite humans when their territory has been encroached or they are being provoked. Snakes also do not have eyelids or ears. 

If bitten, look for swelling and change of skin color. If the area does swell and change color it was most likely poisonous. 

The two most lethal Arizona snakes are the diamondback and the Arizona Coral snake. 

 • Keep the limb still, splint if able. You can use newspapers, paint sticks, yard sticks, magazines or any other hard material. 
• Remove any constricting jewelry such as watches, rings, etc. 
• Keep the area of the bite lower than the heart. 
• Monitor the person's vital signs -- temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, and blood pressure -- if possible. If there are signs of shock (such as paleness), lay the person flat, raise the feet about a foot, and cover the person with a blanket. 
• Bring in the dead snake only if this can be done safely. Do not risk another bite if it is not easy to kill. If you do, be careful of the snakes head when transporting it -- a snake can actually bite for up to an hour after it's dead (from a reflex). 

Symptoms you may experience when bitten by many types of poisonous snakes: 
• Vomiting • Dizziness • Diarrhea • Convulsions • Loss of muscle coordination • Increased thirst • Numbness, tingling • Rapid pulse • Burning at the site 

Symptoms from a Rattlesnake bite: Rattlesnake bites are very painful when they occur. 
Symptoms usually begin right away and may include: • Vomiting • Dizziness • Diarrhea • Droopy eyelid • Low blood pressure • Rapid heart rate • Swelling •Paralysis 

Coral snake bites may be painless at first. Major symptoms may not develop for hours. 
Do NOT make the mistake of thinking you will be fine if the bite area looks good and you are not in a lot of pain. Untreated coral snake bites can be deadly. 

Symptoms may include: • Blurred vision • Breathing difficulty • Convulsions • Drowsiness • Eyelid drooping • Headache • Low blood pressure • Mouth watering (excessive salivation) • Nausea and vomiting • Numbness • Pain and swelling at site of bite • Paralysis • Shock • Slurred speech • Swallowing difficulty • Swelling of tongue and throat • Weakness • Skin color changes • Skin tissue damage • Stomach or abdominal pain • Weak pulse 

Tips NOT to do! 

• Do NOT put ice on the bite area! 
• Do NOT cut open bite area! This is in the movies only! You may do more harm! 
• Do NOT use a tourniquet! You will cut off circulation/blood flow that may cause you to lose the limb! 
• Do NOT stand close to bushes, tall grass, or between rocks where snakes like to rest. • Do NOT give the pain medication unless a doctor tells you to do so. • Do NOT give the person anything by mouth. 

Call 911 or your local emergency number if someone has been bitten by a snake. If possible, call ahead to the emergency room so that antivenom can be ready when the person arrives. 

You may also call the National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222). The center can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions. 


Dogs seem to get into trouble with rattlesnakes all too often. After all, where are their noses most of the time? That’s right, under bushes, in between rocks. They also seem to attack if found in their own backyard. We have to remember that they do not know they can be lethal! So what do you do if your dog gets bit? First GET YOUR DOG VACCINATED! 

Did you know there is a rattlesnake venom vaccine available for dog? It’s WELL worth the cost especially if you like to take your dogs hiking or live in or around a popular snake site. Contact your vet to see if they carry the Vaccine. This vaccine will not save every pet from a snake bite, but what it does do is it slows down the snake venom, giving you time to seek medical help from your vet.

If you DO encounter a rattlesnake when you are with your dog: FREEZE when you hear the rattlesnake! See where the snake is located and then look carefully to make sure there is only one snake Slowly back away until you are no longer within striking distance (at least half the snakes length) and until the snake stops rattling at you.
Do what you can to keep your dog from attacking the snake, but do not put yourself in danger And whatever you do, DO NOT attempt to handle the snake! 

What are the symptoms of a rattlesnake bite in dogs? 
Many times the owners of dogs that get bitten by a rattlesnake are not there at the time of the bite. 
Signs that your pet has been bitten include: puncture wounds (often bleeding) immediate and severe pain swelling at the site. If your pet was bitten around the neck or face area and is wearing a collar, remove it immediately as swelling could cause potential choking if left on.

The more severe signs may take up to several hours to appear and include: hypotension and shock lethargy and weakness muscle tremors and neurological signs including depressed respiration.

How are rattlesnake bites treated in dogs? 

Animals suspected of being bitten by a rattlesnake should have immediate veterinary attention even if the bite occurred several hours earlier. 
Antivenom is mostly available at the Emergency Clinics in the Valley but your family veterinarian may also carry it. 

You should contact your vet to see if they have it available, if not, you will know to go straight to the ER. 

Another thing you can do is SNAKE PROOF your dog. 
Here is a local training facility that offers snake proofing. SNAKE PROOFING YOUR DOG: 
Tel: 480-595-6700 
Address: 4640 East Forest Pleasant Place, Cave Creek, Az 85331. NE Phoenix. 

Thank you pet friends! If you have time, please leave a comment for us so that we can continue to provide you with informative content. Let us know what you think of this post! Thank you! Print Friendly and PDF
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