Though we may not like to think about it, the danger of snake bites is very real. Every year, hundreds of people are bitten by snakes—and many of those bites are venomous. So, what’s the difference between a venomous vs. non-venomous snake bite? And what should you do if you find yourself on the receiving end of either one? Keep reading to find out.
What Is the Difference Between Venomous and Non-Venomous Snake Bites?
The main difference between venomous and non-venomous snake bites is, of course, the presence or absence of venom. Venom is a harmful substance secreted by an animal that can cause tissue damage or even death. Non-venomous snakes typically kill their prey by constricting them until they suffocate.
Some venomous snakes, such as rattlesnakes, have hollow fangs that they use to inject their prey with venom. Other venomous snakes, such as cobras, have solid fangs that they use to puncture their victim’s skin and deliver the venom through their own body weight and muscle contractions.
Most non-venomous snakes are not capable of causing serious harm to humans because their teeth are too small or not sharp enough to puncture our skin. However, there are a few exceptions—such as the African rock python, which has been known to kill humans with its powerful constructive coils.
What Should You Do If You’re Bitten by a Snake?
If you’re bitten by a snake, it’s important to remain calm and seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you know that the snake is not venomous, wash the wound with soap and water and apply a clean bandage. If you cannot identify the type of snake or if you suspect that the snake might be venomous, call 911 immediately.
If you are bitten by a venomous snake, there are a few things you should not do:
• Do not try to capture or kill the snake
• Do not wait for symptoms to appear before seeking medical attention
• Do not make any cuts on the skin or attempt to suck out the venom
• Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water
• Do not drink alcohol
• Do not try to remove constrictive clothing or jewelry from the area of the bite
What Are the Symptoms of a Venomous Snake Bite?
The symptoms of a venomous snake bite can vary depending on the type of snake, the amount of venom injected, and the person’s individual reaction to the venom. In general, however, symptoms may include:
• Pain and swelling at the site of the bite
• Nausea and vomiting
• Abdominal pain
• increased heart rate
• difficulty breathing
In some cases, symptoms may not appear for several hours after the bite. If you experience any of these symptoms after being bitten by a snake, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
Though we hope we never have to deal with them, understanding the difference between venomous and non-venomous snake bites—and what to do if we’re bitten—is crucial for anyone who spends time in areas where snakes live. So remember: if you’re ever unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of a snake bite, stay calm and seek medical attention immediately. Your life may depend on it.