Rattlesnake Bite

Pictures of a Rattlesnake Bite and its Growing Red Streaks

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Rattlesnake Bite

Rattlesnake Bite on the Hand Causes a Red Streak Up the Arm. (c) Sabrina Cherry

A northern California beekeeper tending his hives gets a rattlesnake bite. He and the rattlesnake end up in the hospital.

He graciously allowed images of his wound, the snake and the evidence of his progressing envenomation to be posted here. See how the wound and the growing red streaks that accompany a real rattlesnake bite look in the first few hours.

As the bee keeper was tending his hives, he reached under a pallet and felt a sting. Nonplussed (stings are a way of life in his business), he continues moving the pallet. He feels another sting. It wasn't until he heard the rattle of the snake that he realized what happened.

He killed the snake and took it with him to the hospital for identification. Since he'd already killed it, it was a good idea; even if you think you know what kind of snake bit you. If you're trying to decide whether to kill it or not: don't bother. Being able to identify the snake is not worth risking a second bite.

Notice the red streak traveling up the man's arm. Red streaks like this can indicate venom, allergy, infection or a number of other conditions. He heard the rattle, found the snake and felt the bite; he was pretty sure he knew what this red streak was.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

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Rattlesnake Bite on Hand

Two Rattlesnake Bites on the Hand Makes Him Wish it Was Still in the Bush. (c) Rod Brouhard

The saying goes: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

This beekeeper's hand got two rattlesnake bites for the price of one. I'm sure he wishes the rattlesnake would've stayed in the bush and not under the pallet he was trying to move.

The first bite got him on the index finger, not easy to see in this picture. The second bite got him in the pad at the base of his thumb. There's one pinhole where the fang broke the skin, enough for the little rattlesnake to inject its venom.

The beekeeper was tending his hive when he reached under a pallet. He felt two "stings" before he heard the rattle and realized the snake had bitten him.

He had to drive toward civilization just to call 911 from his cell phone. In the emergency department he got antivenin, pain medication and muscle relaxers.

There are three important tips to remember from his experience:

  1. Don't put your hands where you can't see them in rattlesnake country.
  2. Rattlesnakes don't always rattle before biting.
  3. Always know where you are in case you need to call 911.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

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Rattlesnake Bite Red Streak

As Time Marches On, So Does the Ominous Red Streak. (c) Sabrina Cherry

A northern California bee keeper tending his hives gets a rattlesnake bite. He and the rattlesnake end up in the hospital.

In the emergency department he got antivenin, pain medication and muscle relaxers. While waiting for the antivenin to work, ER staff kept an eye on the red streak traveling along the beekeeper's arm.

To keep track of how quickly the red streak is growing, the staff periodically marked the proximal point (closest to the heart) with the time. From 11:43 to 12:43, the streak traveled approximately 2 inches.

It's important to get help right away after a snake bite. Until help arrives, you can mark any red streaks in the same way to show emergency medical staff how quickly the venom is spreading.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

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Rattlesnake that Bit the Beekeeper

Bees Don't Survive After Stinging and Neither Did this Rattlesnake. (c) Rod Brouhard

A northern California bee keeper tending his hives feels a "sting" that he assumes to be a bee -- pretty common in his line of work. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a rattlesnake bite instead. He and the now dead rattlesnake end up in the hospital.

Bringing the rattlesnake was a useful step. It may seem unnecessary because he heard the rattle and saw the snake, but there are approximately 16 types of rattlesnakes and not all the venom is the same. Many species of rattlesnake share habitats, so it could be any type.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

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Identifying the Rattlesnake that Bit the Beekeeper

What Kind of Rattlesnake Is This?. (c) Rod Brouhard

When a beekeeper got a rattlesnake bite, he killed the snake and brought it with him to the hospital. He says killing it was nearly a reflex and I'm sure it was much safer than trying to transport the rattlesnake alive. It can be important to identify the rattlesnake because different species cause different reactions and may need different treatment.

Dr. Edward Wozniak, a veterinarian and snake expert, says that taking a picture will do for identification as long as the image contains the snake's entire body. I'd like to point out the picture should be in focus as well.

Identification isn't as important as getting treatment quickly. If it delays getting to the hospital to get a picture (or get the snake) then skip it altogether.

Wozniak says that some more exotic species -- commonly kept in captivity as pets -- require special treatment. He is especially concerned about the Mojave rattlesnake, which he says may be missed in the ER as either a minor envenomation or as a "dry bite" (no venom) until the victim starts showing signs of major nerve damage. Hopefully, ER doctors in areas where the Mojave rattlesnake live are aware of its odd symptoms.

According to Dr. Wozniak, this snake is a Southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri). "While the western diamondback does indeed range into California," said Wozniak in an email, "its distribution is limited to the southeastern extreme of the state." That makes me feel better; I'm a northern California boy.

Wozniak says this type of rattlesnake has a particularly dangerous venom, sometimes reaching the level of the Mojave rattlesnake. "Pacific rattlesnakes typically pack a ‘double whammy’," he said in his email, "often leaving the victim with life threatening systemic poisoning and extensive local tissue destruction." Ouch. So much for being happy with northern Cal rattlers.

I don't know how old this snake was. It's 25 inches long, but that doesn't really tell us the age. Dr. Wozniak says these guys don't get as big as diamondbacks. There's also a myth that rattlesnake ages can be determined by the number of rattles, but rattles break off.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

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