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Humans, Snakes, And Snake Bites

M. Maggs

Most human fears regarding snakes seem to stem from the fear of being bitten by a venomous snake.  Because most snakes in Utah are non-venomous, most human snake encounters are generally not dangerous, however if you encounter a venomous snake and are bitten, the consequences could be serious. 

Of the 31 species of snakes found in Utah, 7 are venomous.  Most pit vipers found in Utah have tails with a series of rattles, hence the name rattlesnake.

When rattlesnakes are encountered or disturbed, the rapid vibration of their tails will make a characteristic rattling sound, to warn the intruder of their presence.  If you hear a rattlesnake rattle, stand still until you can locate where the sound is coming from.  Do not try to jump or run.  If you do you may end up within the snakes striking distance. 

When someone has been bitten by a venomous snake, time is of the essence.  If possible, call ahead to the emergency room so the antivenom can be ready for when the victim arrives.  Until then, keep the victim calm.  Restrict movement and keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom. 

Bites from venomous snakes will almost instantly show signs of swelling and discoloration of the surrounding tissue.  Other symptoms include tingling sensation, nausea, rapid pulse, loss of muscle coordination and general weakness.