With only about a dozen deaths a year out of 8,000 reported snake bites, snakes aren’t as dangerous as their reputation would have us believe. Any deaths from snake bites occur because victims neglected to get timely medical attention. Nonetheless, it’s best to avoid snakes when hiking, especially vipers like rattlesnakes, cottonheads and copperheads which can release venom that causes serious tissue damage, and even bites from harmless snakes can cause infection and allergic reactions.
The following tips should help to avoid contact with snakes:
Avoid trekking snake territory at night because snakes tend to be most active when darkness falls.
- Keep your eyes and ears open. You’ll hear a snake before seeing it.
- Wear protective footwear as well as long pants or even gaiters. Using trek poles or walking sticks may offer snakes a different target.
- Keep to paths and avoid weeds, tall grass, brush, bushes, logs and loose rocks. Avoid sticking a hand or foot in a hole or crevasse.
- Take care in picking anything up from the ground and in sitting down. Also, be careful where you put your hands when climbing up rocky trails.
- Don’t attempt to provoke or pickup a snake. Many snake bites occur as a result of people seeking snake encounters. Even recently killed snakes can still move reflexively and bite.
- Although most snakes will avoid contact with humans, their instinct is to bite when feeling threatened in their territory. Be aware of your surroundings and you’ll dramatically decrease your risk of being taken by surprise.