I haven’t seen any slithery creatures this year because I usually hike early in the morning but my wife reports there were at least two snake sightings on Badger Mountain the other day. Most snakes are non-venomous but rattlesnakes with poisonous fangs are out there too.
Safety measures for hiking in snake country:
- Hike during the cooler part of the day, early morning is best, snakes come out in the heat.
- Leave snakes alone, give them space (at least 6 feet). If you get too close, take large steps away quickly.
- Use a hiking pole or poles so you can “redirect” snakes if you MUST
- Wear high-top, sturdy hiking footwear, there are also special chaps and gators that protect your legs even higher
- Stay on trails so you can see a clear path, snakes love to lay in tall grass and brush
- Leave your dog at home, they tend to wander off the trail into the brush where snakes may be hiding.
What if I get a snakebite?
- Number one is stay calm. Getting worked up increases your heartrate and circulates the venom. Call 9-1-1 right away for rapid transport but don’t start running!
- Keep the affected extremity elevated.
- Remove jewelry and restrictive clothing
- Do not try to catch the snake or suction out venom
- Do not apply hot or cold packs
Experts say, of the 45,000 snake bites in the U.S. each year, only about 8,000 are poisonous. It is difficult to identify whether a bite is venomous so prompt medical attention is recommended for any snakebite.
If you take these precautions, the chances you’ll get a snakebite are very remote. Common sense is always a good bet but don’t let a fear of these slithery creatures keep you from enjoying our beautiful local trails.
Hike smart and you will be hiking safe!