View Full Version : Snake bite first aid

2005-04-01, 15:24
Lots of opinions out there on what to do. Was reading a book about wilderness first aid. It says to use a Sawyer extractor to get any venom out as soon as possible. I have one but have never used it ( but it is very simple to use ). You dont make cuts like they did in the old days.

Has anyone ever used one? Is it effictive ? Looks like it ought to work OK.

2005-04-01, 16:24
JPW, read your extractor instructions. Most everything I have read on the issue of venomous snake bites says to shave the bite site, to better the suction devices ability to seal to your skin. Some recommend wiping the area with an antiseptic. Now apply the suction device and leave on the puncture site. Practice with this device, it is sort of fun.... One heck of a hicky maker.
The device should place a negative pressure (suction) on the wound, possibly but not necesarily drawing venom back to the surface where you can wipe it off and re-apply the device. Remember, a large percent of venomous snake bites do not actually contain venom. Yes you were struck, but you may not have had venom injected into your body. You will know if you got the bad stuff cause it aint going to feel real good! A light firm wrap between the bite site and your heart is also resommended to slow the spread rate of the venom. I am not talking about a full blown tourniquet. You do not generally want to cut off blood flow to this area. You are simply applying a firm amount of pressure with something like an flex bandage/ankle wrap ect...blood should still flow in this area. We are recommended not to cut the wound site, like the old cowboy movies showed. cutting=spreading the venom.

Do not panick, get to a hospital, do not loosen the firm wrap, no turniquet, co cutting. Practice at camp and with the kids so everyone knows what to do.

Think of snakes as a good thing, skin them and keep on ice, later...sautee in butter with a bit of wine, some garlic, pepper and enjoy. Some of us actually go lookin for snakes....

Also, throw away those old "cutter"( or similar) snake bite kits that are green colored two rubber half shells in the shape of an egg, with an exacto blade inside. These are totally useless and are contrary to current though on snake bites. Besides they dont work worth a darn. Compare against a Saywer extractor and you will see what I mean. Saywer is the way to go. Wallmart/$12.00

Rage in a Cage
2005-04-01, 16:32
I try not to bite any snakes. They have done nothing to me. But add a little barbeque sauce and...................... :biggrin:
I have a sawyer extractor around here some place but I don't always carry it. You can go to the links I have provided and find out more about snake bites. You may also want to ask your doctor but be aware that doctors don't all agree on what the proper treatment for a snake bite is.
I agree with everything Iceman has posted except I prefer my snake BBQed.



2005-04-01, 16:37
Rage, I havent tried with bar-b-que sauce- yet. Flame broiled get a bit dried out, but look very cool on a stick over the flame! May have to try the BBQ sauce trick!

Rage in a Cage
2005-04-01, 17:41
If you are at home you can cut it into cubes and dip in in Zatarain's or some other fish fry mix. Then dip it in egg wash and roll it once again in the mix. Chunk it in a deep fryer until it looks like fried shrimp. YEEHAW Them theres some good eatin'
On the trail you can double dip the cubes in the mix using water as a wash. Put them on a stick and roast or saute in a pan. Sauted is a little stringier and more chewy but still good. Roasted and deep fried the meat has the texture of shrimp.

I have also made made a stew using snake. I use chiken broth if I am at home.
Ingredients:For home
Snake chopped into 1/2" or smaller cubes
Chicken broth
Tomatoes diced
Add your favorite veggies
Olive oil
I add however much of each ingredient I want at that time and season to taste. Prepare like any other soup. When finished add your favorite butt blazing hot sauce and serve with bread or crackers. I like those little oyster crackers.

Trail version of snake recipe: I only cook this when I have a camp fire to cook on or a wood stove. It isn't practical if you have pack in fuel to cook with.

Ingredients for trail
Snake cubes
flavor packet from ramen noodles(shrimp and oriental packets taste best)
(bouillon cubes will work also)
dehydrated tomatoes
olive oil
You could add some dehydrated veggies or wild onions. Lambs Quarter and poke weed are good in the early spring but only add these if you are familiar with identification and when to pick. Don't forget the hot sauce!
You can also add the ramen noodles if you wish
Cook the same way as above

Sorry JPW. You came looking for advise about snake bites and end up with recipes. Look at it this way, Where I come from we bite back. :biggrin:

Rage in a Cage
2005-04-01, 17:47
Before I forget if you deep fry or roast make sure not to over do it or the meat will have the texture of a goodyear tire!!!

2005-04-01, 23:14
More snake info; I have noted elsewhere at this site that the smaller snakes (in my humble opinion) taste like schlitt! Not very meaty either. Look for the big fat ones! Yum!

2005-04-02, 11:59
The snakes are probably running a thread about first aid for human bites:

thread excerpt:
>"We're not exactly sure what that red sauce is the humans pour on us, but it's
> believed to be some kind of venom!"

2005-04-02, 16:00
Greg, it seems like just one of the many choices that we make. I live in OK and hike mostly here and in AR. It's not hard to find any of the common pit vipers around here -- rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water mocassins. I don't carry a snakebite kit. My choice is to be careful. I haven't been bit yet nor know anyone who has on the trail. :smile: I could probably find a copperhead here in the neighborhood pretty easily.

My limited first aid training emphasizes that it's important to get the bite victim to relax and probably lay down. They need to be evacuated with reasonable haste to medical treatment. It's helpful to know what kind of a snake was involved.

As a Scout leader, we discuss that the primary cause of snake bite among young males is, not too surprisingly, playing with and annoying the snakes in the first place.
Leave the little critters alone and let 'em keep the rodents in check.

Rage in a Cage
2005-04-02, 16:30
I have only ate the larger species that were half grown or larger so it could be true that the smaller ones aren't as tasty. I see ground snakes and garder all the time. They make good pocket pets but I never thought there was enough meat for a meal. Maybe a garder salad. :biggrin:
Gregh, Yeah the snakes probably are building their own survival/first aid kit as we speak.
Back on topic - learn more about snakes and bites. If I were an hour or more(some say 30 mins) away from medical care I would probably use the extractor. Like fly.fast said stay calm and seek medical help as soon as possible. The more you panic and move about the faster the venom will spread. If you read some of the information about snake bites you will also see that venom is not always injected. By remaining calm you can watch for signs that venom injection has actually taken place. ie swelling, blurred vision, dizziness, fever, numbness or tingling, etc. If you are alone you will have to calmly, slowly get off the trail and to a medical facility. If you are with others seek their assistance. Remember the less you exert yourself the slower the venom will spread.
I will add one more time, STAY CALM and plan your next move based on "your" situation and/or training. Panic can be as much or more deadly than a snake bite.

2005-04-02, 19:13
Leave the little critters alone...

Except when you're hungry! :rolleyes:

2005-04-04, 12:47
I have only had rattlesnake while I was in Oklahoma. Very tasty. Sweeter than chicken (anything is sweeter than chicken - tastier too) but not as sweet as lobster. So any snake (big enough to get some meat from) can be ate?

2005-04-04, 14:17
Snake on a stick, slow roasted over a wood fire... Just don't get yourself killed geting them.

Rage in a Cage
2005-04-04, 17:07
Perhaps I should make it clear that I encourage people to try the meat but use extreme caution when approaching a snake whether it is poisonous or not. Better yet, have someone with experience do the capture for you. :fisheye:
Nite, Here we have mostly copperheads and black snakes. I venture slightly west from time to time where the timber rattler is abundant. My first taste of snake meat was in chilli. In 1982 I was living in Kansas and had drove down to Taos N.M. to visit some friends. They made a meat chilli without beans that used snake meat. The chilli, Coors beer and a couple of cheese cakes from the cheese cake factory made for a memorable event. :biggrin:
I have only ate larger species of snakes so I am not sure how a smaller species would work out. I have ate some smaller rattlesnake that did fine. As I said earlier I have not tried the common ground snakes and such. For me that would be to much like eating a pet. :bawling:

2005-04-04, 23:17
Rage, I had just never heard of eating any other kind of snake other than rattlesnake. And the only way I got to try that was at a restaurant. My days of playing with snakes ended years ago. I respect them. I give them as much space as they seem to want. To my knowledge, Virginia only has 4 poisonous snakes: cottonmouth, copperhead, and 2 different types of rattlesnakes. That totally surprised me when I found that out. I thought VA would have more. Glad they don't. Trust me when I say that if the snake will stay out of my skillet, I won't cook him - unless it's a life or death sitution.

2005-04-04, 23:38
Iceman, I meant to thank you for your input about the Wally World $12.00 snakebite kit. Everytime I go to there I look at the kits. I really didn't know which to get. Next time I go I will pick up one. I should already have one since I live on a lake and I know there has to be snakes around here somewhere. When I lived in AR, my parents had an in-ground pool. They lived on a really busy road 4 miles out of town. Every snake for miles around use to come to their pool during the summer. My mom found a cottonmouth in the filter basket, so if you have a pool . . . look before reaching in.

2005-04-05, 01:19
Niteshiner, no problem. I keep one in my hunt/hiking pack at all times, and one in my auto medical kit. the Saywer kit really does perform great. I always break it out to show all I trek with how to use it. I have yet to get bitten by a rattler out here, but have had a few close calls. Hiking in the sage and rocks in the summer is just asking for it... I had an incident where a very big, very close snake began to rattle, so close, down at my feet, and with my full brim hot weather hat on my head, I could not hear exactly where the snake was, couldn't triangulate it's position, had to knock my hat off to hear where the snake was. Very close, at the edge of a sage bush maybe 16inches away. Surprised it didn't strike, coiled and able. And, like the knucklehead I am, I couldn't leave well enough alone, I made a meal out of him. The guys at my hunting camp think it is funny to lay a snake under or in your sleeping bag while you are out, ha ha! Funny guys. We sort of have a "Camp Fear Factor" thingy going on there.... Guys doing gross stuff, eating stuff they probalby shouldn't. We give rednecks a bad name. (good name?, whatever...you know what I mean....)

2005-04-05, 10:28
Thanks for all the input everyone. Brings back good memories. I fished and camped with my father sence I was old enough to crawl, usually in some snake infested area. He always had a Colt Woodsman .22. First one I ate was in S/W Kansas one night on the Cimmaron in the grasslands around 1960. In the 90's I tried to find the spot again but the river had dried up. It seems like every 10 years theres a new method for treatment. So far I have never been bitten. Dont kill snakes anymore, I like rabbit better.

Rage in a Cage
2005-04-05, 16:19
Thanks for all the input everyone. Brings back good memories. I fished and camped with my father sence I was old enough to crawl, usually in some snake infested area. He always had a Colt Woodsman .22. First one I ate was in S/W Kansas one night on the Cimmaron in the grasslands around 1960. In the 90's I tried to find the spot again but the river had dried up. It seems like every 10 years theres a new method for treatment. So far I have never been bitten. Dont kill snakes anymore, I like rabbit better.
I like rabbit also. Boil it until done, then double batter and fry. The KFC of the back-country. :biggrin:

2005-04-05, 17:07
Rabbit is really good. I don't remember my dad boiling it first though but I guess it would cook quicker - like chicken only better. Squirrel is also very good. And if you haven't tried it - quail - if you get enough quail is very tasty.

Rage in a Cage
2005-04-05, 18:16
Boiling the rabbit first insures that the meat is done and if you don't over cook it, boiling makes it a little more tender. That's the way I was taught, others may find it better to only fry. :)
Squirrel is good but I can eat 3 or 4 at a time so I have to obtain quite a few if I intend to feed the whole family. Same problem with doves and quail, there is not much meat on each one so you may need an entire bucket full in order to fill your stomach.
When I was growing up we would kill ground hogs that would venture out to eat the crops along the fields. Oddly enough the meat would taste different depending on what the hog was feeding on. Get one in the early spring that had been feeding on onions and the meat would have a faint onion taste even though no onions were added to the pot. Hogs were a bit greasy and stringy though so I lost interest in eating them.
I have tried quite a few different meats over the years so it is difficult to find one that I have not tried unless it is an exotic animal such as a lion or an elephant, but if I had the chance I would probably try them to. :biggrin:

2005-04-06, 12:20
Try boiling the hog till the meat falls off the bone. Then remove the bones and pull the meat appart. Next put it in a crock pot with barbicue sause and let it simmer on low for a while. Then scoop it onto a bun for a great sloppy hog!

2005-04-06, 13:13
Back to the subject... I weighed my kit, its 3 1/2oz. Hard plastic case ,razor(for hairy guys), 2 alcohol swabs,2 sting kill swabs,2 bandaids and instructions. I can't think of a better 3 1/2 oz to have along, especially if most of your hikeing is solo like I do, and your far from any help.

Rage in a Cage
2005-04-06, 15:39
Back to the subject... I weighed my kit, its 3 1/2oz. Hard plastic case ,razor(for hairy guys), 2 alcohol swabs,2 sting kill swabs,2 bandaids and instructions. I can't think of a better 3 1/2 oz to have along, especially if most of your hikeing is solo like I do, and your far from any help.
I tend to agree. I have made the decision to dig mine out of the closet and put it back in my kit. I do go solo quite often and the gain may be greater than the weight. Quick and correct action is the key to using the extractor so you should practice and I should make an effort to carry it.
You may want to throw in some some diphenhydramine 25 mg tablets(benadyrl), and/or a Epinephrine pen (aka epipen) for allergic reactions. Check with your doctor on the epipen because it should not be used under certain circumstances. The diphenhydramine 25 mg tablets can be of help if faced with a sudden allergic reaction due to bee sting etc. Be sure to gain knowledge on the proper use of both of these before you head out.

About the hog, I had thought that slow cooking in a vinegar based sauce might break down the meat a little more and make it more appeasable. Perhaps I will take the rifle out in a couple of weeks and bag a hog so I can try. :)

2005-05-05, 12:01
Like fly.fast said, most snake bites occur in males age 16-25 and usually involve alcohol. "Hey, hold my beer and watch this" comes to mind.

Being in AR, I carry a SB kit as well. I used to be scared to death of snakes. Then I started taking a more rational approach thinking that they don't care to be spotted or messed with by humans so I just step around them when I see them.

2005-05-05, 15:57
Gee, I don't remember making a comment about who gets bit but Cain, you're exactly right. Young males are a real target for this kind of thing. I'm still laughing at the mental picture you've painted.

BTW, while hiking last week on the Buffalo River Trail, AR, I came across a 4' black snake sunning himself on the trail. He wasn't poisonous. But just the sight of him made the hair on my neck stand up.

I still think a little respect goes a long way toward avoiding snakebite.

john pickett
2005-05-05, 18:49
I still think a little respect goes a long way toward avoiding snakebite.

Fly fast,
You are absolutely correct. A snake has to be close to you to bite (death due to stroke after seeing a snake notwithstanding) and simply staying away farther than he can strike is the simplest, safest way to prevent a bite. Last snake I saw was a young (probly) water moccasin on Cumberland Island. I stood about 6 feet away and threw sticks till it got annoyed and left. I survived the encounter.
John Pickett :biggrin:

2005-05-20, 17:57
To add to the fray

A couple summers back I was off trail hiking (aka, looking for lost trail) when I looked down and not 13" from me I saw a rattler sunning himself (her? whatever. I never can tell. And I'M NOT going to check)

I figured if it wasn't making any noise I would be all right. Just in case I reached up and snapped off a forked branch. (keep in mind I'm a good 15mi from even dirt road, so the fear is making me dizzy) And no crap, as soon as I started to ease away the rattles started and he went to give me a love bite. So I had to employ said branch.

I gently pinned its head. Moved my feet back to arms reach and let off. Lil bastich started chasing me!!! So I pinned him again. Another try yielded another attempt on my favorite leg but the strike missed. I almost soiled my zip-offs. After standing there for about 20min (prolly more like 2) I decided to remove all doubt. Out with the butter cutter, off with the evil serpents head.

I must say that cooked rotisseriestyle with some cajun spice isn't all bad but they are some greasy buggers aint they?

Needless to say I carry a Sawyers extractor, a single suction head and my knife so sharp it shaves. Just in case. Funny how they used to say how to tie off and deep freeze a snake bite. Not to mention the whole cut and suck method. I'm kinda glad they gave that one up. *shudders* I'm seen some pretty nasty bite areas and I don't see me latching my lips on to them without some major incentive.

anyway 2 years later I so much as seen another venomous snake but I've discovered the extractor is a wonderful for bug bites and stings. Used it a dozen times. Works great and really mimmizes the after-effects of mishaps and insect laden adventures.

Point of note. The black tail Timber Rattler seems to be known for its unusual habit of "Silence" Which I think someone should explain to it that its against the rules to have all those rattles and still act like a ninja. Sneaky little SOB anyway

Moral of the story? Carry a forked green-stick so you can make a decent cooking spit out of it.

And for ppl in snake country I believe they make Snake Proof gaiters now. I suggest knee highs as that's where the majority of bites happen.

SGT Rock
2005-05-20, 20:07
Mmmmm snake. So you skinned it and cooked it on a stick like bratwurst?

2005-05-22, 23:24
Yup. I gutted it, skinned it, knotted it around my forked stick and cooked it like a marshmellow with some cajun seasoning.

I felt he at least owed me lunch for nearly putting me into cardiac arrest. Little crapper scared the bejeesus outta me.