Snakes

Great Basin Rattlesnake
Great Basin Rattlesnake

NPS Image - Pacific West Region

Arizona is home to 11 species of rattlesnakes. Several of those species may be found in the Arizona Strip within the vicinity of Pipe Spring National Monument. Rattlesnakes documented in Mohave County, Arizona include the Sidewinder, Speckled Rattlesnake, Mohave Rattlesnake, Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Great Basin Rattlesnake and Western Rattlesnake. However, the most common venomous snake found in Pipe Spring National Monument is the Great Basin Rattlesnake. Given a chance, a rattlesnake will avoid you. They typically use their rattles or tails as a warning when they feel threatened, but sometimes they may strike without warning. If cornered, they will defend themselves. Rattlesnakes can accurately strike at up to half their body length. Western Diamondbacks are among the most aggressive species of rattlesnakes and have a striking distance up to 66 percent of their body length. It has been estimated that 7,000-8,000 people per year receive venomous snake bites in the United States, and about five of those people die.

 

Take the following steps to prevent a snake bite:

  • Be aware that snakes tend to be active at night and in warm weather.
  • Avoid areas where snakes may be hiding. Keep hands and feet out of areas you cannot see. Do not sit, step or reach over logs, rocks, etc. without looking first.
  • Tap ahead of you with a walking stick before entering an area where you can't see your feet. Snakes will try to avoid you if given enough warning.
  • Don't provoke a snake. That is when many serious snake bites occur.
  • Do not try to handle any snake. Leave snakes alone.
  • Wear long pants and leather boots for foot and ankle protection. Always use leather gloves when handling brush and debris.

First Aid for Snake Bites:

Venomous snake bites are medical emergencies and require immediate attention. The bite of a snake can cause severe local tissue damage and requires follow-up care. The following steps should be taken if someone has been bitten by a venomous snake.

  • Call 911 - get the victim to the Dixie Regional Medical Center (DRMC) Emergency Room in St. George, Utah as soon as possible. They stock an adequate supply of anti-venom for loading dose and treatment.
  • Call the National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222). This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions on first aid, and they can help coordinate emergency transport with EMS in Colorado City and treatment at the DRMC Emergency Room. They can call ahead to the Emergency Room so that anti-venom can be ready when the victim arrives.
  • Keep the person calm and restrict movement.
  • Wash the bite with soap and water.
  • Remove jewelry or other constricting items because the affected area will swell.
  • Keep the affected area lower than the heart (if possible) to reduce the circulation of venom.
  • Monitor the victim's vital signs -- temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, and blood pressure -- if possible.
  • Monitor the victim for symptoms. Even with what may appear to be a "dry bite," symptoms can have a delayed onset.

Symptoms vary among victims and range in severity depending the snake's venom. Symptoms usually begin right away but may have a delayed onset. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Pain at site of bite
  • Bleeding from the site of the bite
  • Swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Blurred vision
  • Eyelid drooping
  • Low blood pressure
  • Numbness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Skin color changes
  • Tingling
  • Tissue damage
  • Thirst
  • Weakness
  • Weak pulse
  • Metallic taste in the mouth

Do NOT do any of the following if bitten by a snake:

  • Do NOT try to kill or catch the snake to bring it in for identification.
  • Do NOT wait for symptoms to appear if bitten. Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Do NOT allow the person to become over-exerted. If necessary, carry the person to safety.
  • Do NOT apply a tourniquet or any type of constriction band.
  • Do NOT apply ice or cold compresses to a snake bite.
  • Do NOT cut into a snake bite with a knife or razor.
  • Do NOT use any suction device to suck out the venom.
  • Do NOT try to suck out the venom by mouth.
  • Do NOT give the person alcohol, stimulants (i.e. caffeine) or pain medications.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Pipe Spring National Monument
HC 65 Box 5
406 Pipe Springs Road

Fredonia, AZ 86022

Phone:

(928) 643-7105

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