Rattlesnake Bite - worse than I thought they could be

Topics about survival techniques and situations
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Candace_66
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Post by Candace_66 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:01 am

Very interesting. I too wish him a full and speedy recovery. Was this likely a "Mojave Green" rattlesnake?

I've had a few rattlesnake encounters over the years, but I always got the warning rattle in time to stop and back off before I was in range.

Last year I visited the Sonora Desert museum outside Tucson. While there I attended a venomous critters show/lecture, which included a gila monster and a rattler. Afterward I asked just how dangerous a rattler bite really is, in the context of desert hiking in remote areas. In particular, if I would be justified in immediately setting off my PLB.

The gist of the response was that I should just remain calm, and that I'd be able to hike and drive out to to get medical attention. I didn't quite buy that at the time, and after reading this news piece, I'm even less convinced.

I guess I'll just view rattlers as a calculated risk of desert hiking?

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Socalz
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Post by Socalz » Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:41 pm

Since this happened in at Bighorn Canyon N.R.A. in southern Montana it definitely wasn't a Mojave Green as they don't range further north than southern Nevada and southeastern California. My guess is a Western Rattlesnake which covers 5-6 different sub-species in that area. Whatever the species, it sounds like a large snake invenomating a small child. I hope he recovers without complications.

David_Bricker
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Post by David_Bricker » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:25 pm

Candace_66 wrote: Last year I visited the Sonora Desert museum outside Tucson. While there I attended a venomous critters show/lecture, which included a gila monster and a rattler. Afterward I asked just how dangerous a rattler bite really is, in the context of desert hiking in remote areas. In particular, if I would be justified in immediately setting off my PLB.

The gist of the response was that I should just remain calm, and that I'd be able to hike and drive out to to get medical attention. I didn't quite buy that at the time, and after reading this news piece, I'm even less convinced.

I guess I'll just view rattlers as a calculated risk of desert hiking?
If I had a PLB, and I got bit, the PLB would be set off before the rattler got its fangs out of me!

You might be able to stay calm and walk out, but it is going to depend a lot on how much venom you took. No matter what, you're going to want to seek treatment. I can't imagine any reason to not set off the PLB immediately.

David Bricker / SYR

D.A. Wright
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Post by D.A. Wright » Mon Sep 14, 2009 5:18 pm

Rattlers don't always inject full venon, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't inject venom at all. It all depends on the snake's percieved personal danger, reflexes and mood at the time.

High altitude rattlers can be slower and less agressive than low land rattlers, especially on cold mornings. When I worked for Mono County in the Mono Lake area in the 1970s and 1980s, more often than not when I'd come across a rattler sunning itself in the park, they'd be so lethargic that I'd end up picking them up with a sprinkler valve key and tossing them back in the brush.
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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:47 pm

Having brought up two junior desert rats hiking from infancy out there, I did a bunch of research on this topic. Consider if a snake injects the same amount of venom into or a 5 year old. Per kilo of body weight, that 5 year old is getting a massively bigger dose. That is what is dangerous. Even the small scorpions in DV can cause a small child to go into convulsions, have wild unsynchronized eye rolling, and the like (I paid particular attention to that after I saw the scorpion crawling on my son in the kid pack near the mouth of Redwall).

No I would not pull my PLB, Spot, or whatever immediately upon being bitten. First I'd make sure I was away from the snake, then I'd try to stay still and evaluate my symptoms a bit before doing anything. If you can see the bite well (may depend where it is on your body) you might be able to get a good sense as to whether the snake even had its venom fangs out (they fold back into the mouth when the snake is eating and such). I would certainly make sure anyone near me was aware of my condition.

Candace, I believe that the problem with the Mojave is that it has a very different sort of venom, a neurotoxin. Initial reactions may be mild. Many hours (24??) you can get a sudden severe reaction. This is the snake I fear.

MUDCRZR
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Post by MUDCRZR » Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:45 am

Check out this kid's rattlesnake bite pictures:

http://www.rattlesnakebite.org/

Very graphic!

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Alkali Bill
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Post by Alkali Bill » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:17 am

Wow. Guess I won't be nonchalant about rattlers any more. :shock:
Cheers,
Alkali Bill

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Socalz
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Post by Socalz » Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:28 pm

MojaveGeek wrote: Candace, I believe that the problem with the Mojave is that it has a very different sort of venom, a neurotoxin. Initial reactions may be mild. Many hours (24??) you can get a sudden severe reaction. This is the snake I fear.
Actually most Mojave Greens have two types of venom. Venom B is a hemotoxin and is common to several rattlesnake species. Venom A, or the Mojave toxin, is a presynaptic neurotoxin and is more than 10 times as toxic as Venom B. The Mojave Green is considered the to possess the most toxic venom in the New World.

Once I ran across three of these snakes within a hundred foot radius at Bell Mountain near Apple Valley. I'm wary of these rattlers as they can be somewhat aggressive too.

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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:22 am

What Socalz wrote! Obviously knows more than I.

So in dealing with snake critters, it is important to be able to ID the Mojave because you better not underestimate your calamity if you get bit by one of them. My understanding, can anyone confirm, is that the neurotoxin venom takes some time to do its damage. This is good - you can get help or extract yourself to a medical facility. But this is bad - you may not appreciate your predicament till it's pretty late in the process.

I think it is real good to be able to ID these snakes. Whenever I'm in a zoo or something I always take a look. The more often you see them, the better your chances of knowing what got you. It also means, if you do get bitten, by all means be safe and get away from the obviously angry snake, but try (especially if it is a companion who gets bitten) to observe as much as you can about the snake. With wildlife observation, it is good to repeat to yourself out loud what you are seeing, try to look for things you might think would be distinctive, to help you remembe when, later, you are looking at pix in your field guide.

And apparently the latest is that the Sawyer Extractor has been shown to have limited use. I say "limited" because maybe you want it as it's better than nothing, but there are some papers about injecting people with harmless substances with a needle of similar size to snake fangs and then seeing how much the extraction device can suck out. The answer was basically "very little" I've gone from having one of these kits in everyone's pack to having one per party. The space one took up is now occupied by my SPOT :)

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fhood
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Post by fhood » Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:04 pm

People in some of the above posts have mentioned that they would activate their PLB if bitten by a snake. What is a PLB? Thanks!

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Panamint Charlie
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Post by Panamint Charlie » Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:35 pm

PLB= Personal Location Beacon. There's a few different type available.

Many of us use SPOT. http://www.findmespot.com/en/

Albin
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Post by Albin » Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:58 am

D.A. Wright wrote:Rattlers don't always inject full venon, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't inject venom at all. It all depends on the snake's percieved personal danger, reflexes and mood at the time.

High altitude rattlers can be slower and less agressive than low land rattlers, especially on cold mornings. When I worked for Mono County in the Mono Lake area in the 1970s and 1980s, more often than not when I'd come across a rattler sunning itself in the park, they'd be so lethargic that I'd end up picking them up with a sprinkler valve key and tossing them back in the brush.
That's true. I've been bit twice by snakes and only the second time was any venom injected. My left arm swelled up about 50% and that was about it. The hit on the right ankle didn't swell at all and the only reason I found the bite was the two puncture wounds after I got home. Both were in FL and I didn't see either snake (hunting hogs in deep palmetto stands).

My mother took care of a snake bite victim from one of the largest EDB rattlesnakes ever caught. It was in the late 60's, the victim saw it on the FL Turnpike and tried to catch it, got bit in the upper leg. Fortunately, a FHP trooper came by after the bite, killed the snake (too bad!) and got the guy to the hospital (FL Hospital in Orlando where my mom worked). The snake was 8' 4" as measured by a snake professor out of the UofF in Gainseville. I have to ask my mom if she still has the pic from the Orlando Sentinental article.
North Alabama Desert Rat

D.A. Wright
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Post by D.A. Wright » Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:23 am

I've been very fortunate that I haven't been bitten by a rattler. The above that Albin responded to is what I have read in past years. I've never experienced a rattlesnake bite, or a bite from any other snake.

I was born in Victorville in the mid-1950s, grew up in the foothills of the San Bernardino Range between Apple Valley and Lurcerne Valley; and lived in Ridgecrest and Trona for a decade. We also had rattlers in the eastern Sierra Nevada - I lived in June Lake and Big Pine - at high and lower altitudes. I live in north-central Nevada and I know they're out there as well.

I've had close encounters with snakes. A sidewinder at Panamint City; the rattlers at Mono Lake that I mentioned above; etcetera. But I generally heard them before seeing them and I searched around for them and got my eyes on them before I made any further forward progress.

I am aware that each snake bite is unique and has the potential to result in tragic consequences for those unfortunate enough to get bit. I hope it don't happen to me one day, but know that it can happen at any time (except when its below zero out here in the wilds of northern Nevada ... :lol: ).
D.A. Wright
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