Medical Care

Here’s How to Identify a Venomous Snake By It’s Bite

Adam and Eve contended with the Serpent in the Garden with lasting consequence. Cleopatra succumbed to the asp with fatal result. Mattie Ross lost an arm to a rattlesnake. People the world over have had troubles with poisonous snakes.

Unlike with a spider, if a snake bites you, you generally know it. Non-venomous varieties bite with lots of smaller teeth which may break the skin but cause little harm otherwise. Dangerous snakes leave distinct puncture wounds from their fangs. That and the often rapid onset of symptoms tells you that you need medical care immediately.

James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.*, offers expert advice at The Survival Doctor on how to properly Identify a Venomous Snake Bite. This is excerpted from his new book, The Survival Doctor’s Complete Handbook. You can and probably should purchase that book from his website (only $19.99).

Photo by Wikipedia/Tigerhawkvoc.

Dr. Hubbard notes that identifying the exact type of snake may be a waste of your time, especially in the dark. He describes the look of a venomous bite versus a “harmless” bite. The poisoned wound will have several deep puncture wounds and may bleed heavily from penetration. The wound may rapidly swell.

He points out other tell-tale signs: burning pain; a metallic taste in the mouth, and; tingling. Anxiety may induce sweating and hyperventilation.

Once you are certain the bite is venomous, you must take emergency action to treat the wound. This and much more is available in the book.

Photo by Dr. Hubbard/The Survival Doctor.

To avoid being bitten in the first place it is best to practice active situational awareness. Look before you reach. Listen for a hiss or a rattle. Most snakes are harmless. However, if you are in doubt as to the nature of a serpent, assume it is dangerous and give it a wide berth.

Snaker Fear Mongering
Photo by Wikipedia/State of California.

A venomous bite during a bug-out or a camping trip, when an emergency room might not be readily accessible, could prove fatal. Should a bite happen, your initial responses, including proper identification, could easily save your life. Please consider adding Dr. Hubbard’s work to your survival library.

*Dr. James Hubbard is the best-selling author of five books, including his latest, The Survival Doctor’s Complete Handbook. His expertise and down-to-earth style have made him one of the foremost survival medicine experts in the country. Through books; lectures; an online training course; and his popular website,, Dr. Hubbard shares information about how to deal with medical problems when getting expert care is impossible. His evidence-based tips are a combination of modern medicine, makeshift treatments and Grandma’s home remedies.

If you get bit by a brown recluse spider, click here to read how to treat it!

Perrin Lovett writes about freedom, firearms, and cigars (and everything else) at He is none too fond of government meddling.

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