Snakes bite around 150,000 animals per year in the United States. 90% of these occur between April and October. However, as temperatures continue to rise, snake bites are more likely to occur outside of these months.
Venomous Snakes In North Carolina
Do not assume that all snakes pose a threat and should therefore be killed. They play an important part in our ecosystem and help control rodent and insect populations. Familiarize yourself with the venomous and nonvenomous snakes in our region.
Throughout the world, there are over 2,500 species of snakes. Only 37 species live in North Carolina, and of these, 5 are venomous. Pit vipers, which are to blame for 99% of snake bites each year, are by far the most common. North Carolina pit vipers include copperheads, rattlesnakes, water moccasins and coral snakes.
Copperheads, which can be found throughout the state, are the most populous. One species of rattlesnake can be seen throughout North Carolina, but this species lives primarily in the southeastern part of the state. Water moccasins are concentrated in eastern North Carolina. Coral snakes, while rare, live in the southern and southeastern parts.
How To Avoid Snake Bites
The best way to avoid snake bites is to educate yourself on their behavior. While there is no way to repel snakes, the best way to decrease their prevalence is to limit their environment. Clear away brush and debris, mow closely around your house and store firewood away from it.
If you find a venomous snake on your property, do not attempt to remove it yourself. Contact a wildlife control expert to trap and remove it.
If you go hiking, keep your pet on the path with you. Snakes tend to reside off the path, in brush, high grassy fields or piles of log. Avoid night hikes as rattlesnakes are nocturnal. If you happen to hear a rattle, keep your dog close and move away from the noise. Never let your pet examine dead snakes since they can still envenomate.
Snakes do not want to interact. Therefore, if you come across a snake and the two of you make eye contact, simply let the snake go away on its own. Remember, they can only strike half the distance of their body length.
What To Do if Your Pet Is Bitten By A Snake:
- Go immediately to a veterinary facility. Do not do anything to delay emergency care.
- Immobilize your pet and carry him or her if necessary. Keep him or her as calm and quiet as you can.
- Keep the bite below heart level if possible.
- Try to identify the species of the snake if it is possible to do safely.
What NOT To Do If Your Pet Is Bitten By A Snake:
- Apply a tourniquet
- Hot packs
- Incision and suction
- Manipulate the area of the bite
- Administer medications without consulting a veterinarian
Treatment and Hospitalization:
Because snake bites affect different pets in different ways, we recommend that pets are hospitalized for a minimum of 12 hours, though 24-36 hours is ideal.
Snake bites can cause several serious conditions, including:
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Necrosis (turning black) and sloughing (falling off) of the skin at the site of the bite
- Blood clotting abnormalities
- Neurological problems such as seizure or coma, though this is less likely
When treating pit viper envenomation, our goal is to decrease the uptake of the venom. Treatment includes pain control, fluid therapy, monitoring and sometimes, antibiotics and wound care. In more severe cases, antivenin is recommended. Most animals recover well.
CARE is open 24/7/365 for emergency treatment. Call ahead to let us know to expect you. 704-457-2300.