Experts Offer Advice for Snake Bites


Published 07/14 2014 11:44AM

Updated 07/14 2014 11:00PM

(SPRINGFIELD, Mo.) Snakes can live anywhere in Missouri along river banks, fields and in tall grass.

Missouri is home to almost 50 different species of snakes, but only five are venomous and four of them are native to the Ozarks.

Dave Illig is a senior zoo keeper at Dickerson Park Zoo.

"That would be the Copperhead, the water moccasins, the timber rattlesnakes and the pygmy rattlesnake," says Illig.

Illig says their features give off signs of venomous or not.

"Generally when you see a venomous snake, you are gong to see its going to have a triangular head and the pupil on a venomous snake here in Missouri it's always elliptical," he said.

Illig says snakes are not aggressive unless they feel threatened.

"If they think they've been discovered, some of them will defend themselves very aggressively. If you try to pick one up or harass it anyway, they will bite," added Illig.

Jason Martin from Cox Health says if you are in a field or on a trail and are bitten by a snake, whether it's venomous or not, you should seek medical attention and never reach down to pick it up.

Martin says most of their patients are children and even then it's rare to die from a bite.

"If you are somebody with existing health problems, diabetes and stuff like that, you are at a higher risk to have more problems from that," said Martin.

For patients, there are several symptoms of snake bits and multiple ways to treat them.

"Basic recommendations that we tell people to do is essentially nothing except call for medical attention," Martin added.

Martin says never try any myths or home remedy.

"As far as putting ice, using any kind of tourniquet or constricting band above or below the wound, absolutely do not do that."

Illig says walk away. When it comes to snakes, its better to be safe rather than sorry.

"Just leave them alone, that's all they want is to be left alone," he said.

"Out in their area, we ask that people kind of veer away from snakes," says Martin.

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