Experts: Snake bites expected to increase as temperatures start to climb

OKLAHOMA CITY – As temperatures continue to rise this spring, officials are warning Oklahomans about a danger that might be lurking nearby.

During the spring, warmer temperatures and increased rainfall usually lead to an increase in calls to the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information regarding snakebites.

Last year, the center saw a 10 percent increase in snakebite calls after a jump in rainfall.

Experts estimate that physicians usually see about 300 snakebite patients each year.

Oklahoma has three types of venomous snakes: the copperhead, cottonmouth and several species of rattlesnake. Venomous snakes that are native to Oklahoma have slit pupils, a triangular-shaped head and a heat-sensing pit on each side of the head between the eye and the nostril.

The venom from these snakes can lead to internal bleeding.

“If bitten by a snake, do not attempt to treat the wound yourself, as many home and field treatments can cause additional harm,” said Jami Johnson, Pharm D, DABAT, assistant director of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information.

Instead, wash the area immediately with soap and water and call the center right away.

The Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information is offering the following tips to prevent snakebites:

  • DO NOT handle or play with snakes. Even dead snakes can bite reflexively.
  • Keep your landscape or campsite well-manicured.
  • Wear boots and long pants in areas known to have snakes, and avoid walking alone in these areas.
  • Watch where you step and place your hands when outdoors. Do not put your hands or feet into places you cannot see. Carry a flashlight, and wear shoes when walking outside after dark.
  • Stay on open ground; walk on clear paths and avoid sleeping on the ground. Place your sleeping bag away from caves and rock piles.

If you need help, call the center at (800) 222-1222.

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