What To Do If You Come Across A Rattlesnake?

2021 06 08 great basin rattlesnake

Have you ever been out on a hike or a walk and suddenly come across a rattlesnake? It’s a scary situation, but knowing what to do can make all the difference. Rattlesnakes are venomous and can be dangerous, so it’s important to stay calm and take the right steps to avoid getting bitten.

If you come across a rattlesnake, stay calm and keep your distance. Do not try to approach or handle the snake. Back away slowly and give the snake plenty of space to retreat. If you are hiking, stay on designated trails and wear protective clothing, such as boots and long pants. In case of a bite, seek medical attention immediately.

What to Do if You Come Across a Rattlesnake?

What to Do if You Come Across a Rattlesnake?

Rattlesnakes are venomous snakes that can be found in various parts of the world, including North and South America. These snakes are known for their distinctive rattling sound, which they make by shaking their tails. If you come across a rattlesnake, it’s important to know what to do to avoid getting bitten. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Stay Calm and Move Away Slowly

If you see a rattlesnake, the first thing you should do is stay calm. Don’t panic or make sudden movements, as this can startle the snake and cause it to strike. Slowly move away from the snake, giving it plenty of space. Keep a safe distance of at least six feet between you and the snake.

To move away from the snake, take small steps and keep your eyes on the snake at all times. Don’t turn your back on the snake or run away, as this can provoke it to attack.

2. Don’t Touch the Snake

Rattlesnakes are venomous, which means their bite can be dangerous or even deadly. Never try to touch or handle a rattlesnake, even if it appears to be dead or injured. The snake may still be alive and can strike if it feels threatened.

If you need to move past the snake, try to create a wide berth around it. If you’re in a confined space, such as a trail, wait for the snake to move away before continuing.

3. Call for Help

If you or someone else has been bitten by a rattlesnake, call for emergency medical assistance immediately. Don’t try to treat the bite yourself, as this can be dangerous.

While waiting for help to arrive, try to keep the affected area still and at or below heart level. Don’t apply ice or a tourniquet to the bite, as this can make the situation worse.

4. Wear Appropriate Clothing and Footwear

When hiking or exploring areas where rattlesnakes may be present, it’s important to wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Wear long pants and closed-toe shoes or boots to protect your legs and feet from snake bites.

Avoid wearing sandals or flip-flops, as these expose your feet to the ground and increase the risk of snake bites. Consider wearing snake-proof gaiters or boots if you’ll be in an area with a high risk of snake encounters.

5. Keep Your Pets on a Leash

If you’re hiking with your dog, make sure to keep it on a leash. Dogs can be curious and may approach a rattlesnake, which can result in a bite.

Consider training your dog to avoid snakes and to come when called. If your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

6. Know Your Surroundings

When hiking or exploring in areas with a high risk of rattlesnake encounters, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. Look for signs of snakes, such as shed skin or holes in the ground.

Avoid walking in tall grass or underbrush, as these areas can be hiding spots for snakes. Stick to established trails and avoid wandering off the beaten path.

7. Carry a Snake Bite Kit

If you’re in an area with a high risk of rattlesnake encounters, consider carrying a snake bite kit. These kits typically contain items such as a suction device, bandages, and antiseptics.

While a snake bite kit won’t prevent a rattlesnake bite, it can help you treat the bite before medical assistance arrives.

8. Don’t Kill Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnakes play an important role in the ecosystem and shouldn’t be killed unless absolutely necessary. Killing a rattlesnake can disrupt the balance of the ecosystem and may even be illegal in some areas.

If you encounter a rattlesnake, give it plenty of space and let it move away on its own. If the snake is in a location where it poses a danger to humans or pets, contact a professional snake removal service for assistance.

9. Learn to Identify Rattlesnakes

To avoid rattlesnake encounters, it’s important to learn how to identify these snakes. Rattlesnakes have distinctive features, such as a triangular head, vertical pupils, and a rattle at the end of their tails.

Learn to identify the different species of rattlesnakes in your area and how to distinguish them from non-venomous snakes.

10. Stay Informed and Prepared

Stay informed about rattlesnake activity in your area and be prepared for encounters. Keep a first aid kit on hand and know how to treat a snake bite.

If you’re planning to hike or explore in an area with a high risk of rattlesnake encounters, let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return. Take a map and compass, and be prepared for changes in weather or other unexpected events.

In conclusion, encountering a rattlesnake can be a scary experience, but knowing what to do can help you stay safe. Stay calm, move away slowly, and avoid touching the snake. Call for help if someone is bitten, and wear appropriate clothing and footwear when hiking or exploring. Keep your pets on a leash and learn to identify rattlesnakes in your area. Stay informed, prepared, and enjoy your time in nature while staying safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs that a rattlesnake is nearby?

If you’re hiking or camping in an area where rattlesnakes are known to live, it’s important to be aware of the signs that one may be nearby. Look for warning signs or information at the trailhead or campground. Keep an eye out for snake tracks, as well as shed snake skin. In addition, listen carefully for the sound of a rattle, which is a warning that a rattlesnake is nearby.

What should I do if I see a rattlesnake?

If you come across a rattlesnake, it’s important to stay calm and keep your distance. Do not try to approach or touch the snake. Instead, slowly and calmly back away from the area. If the snake is blocking your path, try to find an alternate route or wait for it to move away. Remember, rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive and will only strike if they feel threatened.

What should I do if I get bitten by a rattlesnake?

If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, seek medical attention immediately. Call 911 or your local emergency services and try to stay as calm as possible. Do not try to suck out the venom or use a tourniquet, as these methods can actually make the situation worse. Stay as still as possible and wait for medical professionals to arrive.

How can I reduce the risk of encountering a rattlesnake?

To reduce the risk of encountering a rattlesnake, it’s important to be aware of the areas where they are known to live. Avoid hiking or camping in areas with high snake activity, especially during the hottest parts of the day when snakes are most active. Wear long pants and sturdy boots, and use a hiking stick to help you navigate rough terrain. It’s also a good idea to carry a snakebite kit and know how to use it.

What should I do if my pet is bitten by a rattlesnake?

If your pet is bitten by a rattlesnake, seek veterinary attention immediately. Call your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital and try to keep your pet as calm and still as possible. Do not try to suck out the venom or use a tourniquet, as these methods can actually make the situation worse. Remember, pets are at higher risk of being bitten by rattlesnakes because they are often curious and may not recognize the danger.

Rattlesnake Season: What to do if you encounter a rattlesnake


In conclusion, encountering a rattlesnake can be a scary experience, but it is important to remain calm and take the appropriate steps to ensure your safety. Remember to give the snake plenty of space and never attempt to handle or provoke it in any way. Take the time to learn about the behavior and habitat of rattlesnakes in your area, and always be aware of your surroundings when hiking or spending time outdoors.

If you do happen to come across a rattlesnake, the best course of action is to slowly and calmly back away from the snake until you are at a safe distance. If you are bitten, seek medical attention immediately and try to keep the affected limb immobilized. Remember, the vast majority of rattlesnake bites are treatable with proper medical care, so don’t hesitate to seek help if you need it.

Overall, the key to avoiding encounters with rattlesnakes is to be aware of their presence and take appropriate precautions when spending time in areas where they are known to live. With a little bit of knowledge and common sense, you can safely enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer without putting yourself or the snakes at risk.

Aubrey Sawyer

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