Urgent Specialists Article on Rattlesnake Bites

Rattlesnake Bites

What To Do If Bitten By A Rattlesnake, by Urgent Specialists' CEO, Dr. Robert Dean

Arizona is home to many species of rattlesnakes. With the weather heating up, know that the rattles are out and about. If you have been bitten, it could be deadly. Respond quickly by going to a medical facility (preferably an ER) and get treatment, if needed. A rattlesnake bite can be dangerous, but very rarely fatal. Most deaths occur between 6 and 48 hours after the bite. If anti-venom treatment is given within two hours of the bite, the probability of recovery is greater than 99%. When a bite occurs, the amount of venom injected is under voluntary control by the snake. Let the wound bleed, as this may allow some of the venom to be released. 

What to do:

– If you are with someone who has been bitten:

>Stay calm

>Keep the affected area at a level below the heart.

>Remove items such as jewelry and watches from the affected area.

>Decrease activity as much as possible.

What NOT to do:

– If you are with someone who has been bitten:

1. Do not believe the myth of cutting into the bite area or trying to suck out the venom. Even tourniquets should be avoided.

2. Do not apply ice to the bite area or administer your own alcohol or drugs in an attempt at first aid.

What are the symptoms of a rattlesnake bite?

If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, you may notice one or two puncture marks made by their large fangs.You might experience some pain, tingling, or burning in the area. There might also be some swelling, bruising or discoloration at the site. Other common symptoms include:

– Numbness in the face or limbs
– Lightheadedness
– Weakness
– Nausea or vomiting
– Sweating
– Salivating
– Blurred vision
– Difficulty breathing
– Most encounters with snakes are harmless. Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and will not attack humans if unprovoked.


But some good rules of thumb when out in the desert include:

– Wear boots and long pants when hiking
– Always look for snakes before picking up rocks, wood…
– Do not disturb a snake
– Stay on trails when hiking

It would be safe to say be careful and aware of your surroundings while venturing into the desert southwest. Enjoy the beauty and diversity it has to offer, while respecting and understanding the natural habitat.


Dr. Robert Dean


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