Rattlesnakes can be found almost on any hiking trail, park and even in your very own backyard. In the US about 8,000 people get bitten annually, but fortunately only 12 of these bites are fatal. If you or your pet get accidentally bitten by a rattlesnake the encounter could be painful, costly and even deadly, but you can greatly improve the odds for survival by knowing a few important things.
The age and species of a snake, the intensity and depth of fang penetration and the amount of venom injected, as well as how you react to a bite, play a key role.
Rattlesnakes feed on rats, mice, gophers,frogs and small birds. They use their poisonous venom to both kill their prey and to protect themselves. When you or your pet encounter a snake, listen for a rattling sound and see if you spot a snake. If you see a snake in a coiled position with it's head upright, it is best to stay motionless until the snake no longer feels threatened. Snakes don't see well and determine a threat based on the motion they sense. Sudden moves can cause the snake to uncoil and lunge half of it's body length towards whatever they feel is threatening. A rattlesnake is generally tan in color and has brown markings. Their head has a flat, triangular-shape and they have a fairly heavy looking body. At the end of the tail is the rattle. It consist of modified scales in adult snakes. Young snakes, whose bites are also venomous might not show a fully formed rattle.
When rattlesnakes feel threatened they will make a rattling sounds like this.
Rattlesnakes are most active in the evenings and they start moving about when the sun starts to go down. They like warm temperatures 70 to 90 F (21 to 32 C) and will move around rocks or shrubs or any place that has little crevices for them to hide in.
If you or your pet were bitten it is important to remain calm and still. The more you move about the faster the venom travels through the body. Keep the bite lower than the victims heart and remove any constrictive object that might prevent blood flow due to rapid swelling.
Call an emergency service to get the injured to a hospital as soon as possible. Make a note of the snakes markings and head shape so you can give an accurate description to the medical personnel. Don't try to suck the venom out, nor should you cut around the wound or apply ice. It does not help and you are more likely to do more damage to the skin. Wait for the paramedics to give you the right anti-venom.
Remember stay calm until help arrives!