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Avoiding Snakebite

The chances of being bitten by a rattlesnake in Montana are less than being struck by lightning. Nevertheless, people traveling in snake country should be aware of the potential danger. Here are some tips on preventing unexpected encounters with snakes.

  1. Wear a stout leather boot—at the very least covering the ankles. This will afford some protection against the fangs of a striking rattlesnake. Snakeproof boots or chaps should be worn where snake densities are unusually high.
  2. Watch where you walk and put your feet.
  3. Do not stick your hands into snaky areas—places like rocks, logs or brush.
  4. If you see a rattlesnake, tip your hat, detour around it, and keep going. Do not try to kill or capture the snake. Many people are bitten each year trying to do so.
  5. When camping in rattlesnake country, keep a clean camp. Store firewood away from the tent and eating area, and be careful retrieving wood from the pile. A rattlesnake may view your firewood pile as a wonderful new home.
  6. Always travel with companions. A group of three is a good number—after an accident, such as a snakebite, one can stay with the victim while the other goes for help.
  7. Carry a cell phone with you. Being able to call for help immediately after a snakebite reassures the victim and allows medical aid to reach you sooner.
  8. Keep a snakebite first-aid action sheet with you wherever you go. Having a set of step-by-step instructions can prove highly valuable during the stressful period following a snakebite accident.

Unless a rattlesnake poses a threat to you and you family by invading your backyard, it should not be killed. Enjoy watching this unique native species from a distance and let it be.