Snake Bite Safety And Prevention For Your Pet

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Snake Bite Safety And Prevention For Your Pet

 If you frequently hike or otherwise enjoy the great outdoors with your pet, please take care to prevent painful encounters with snakes. Bites occur most often in between March and October when snakes are most active. A snake bite is always considered an emergency! A venomous snake bite can be fatal if not treated immediately, and even a bite from a nonvenomous snake can be dangerous for your pets.

Avoid chance encounters with snakes:

  • Keep your yard tidy by clearing away undergrowth, toys and tools that make great hiding places for snakes.
  • Keep walkways clear of brush, flowers and shrubs.
  • Clean up any spilled food, fruit or bird seed, which can attract rodents and therefore snakes to your yard.
  • When walking your pet, keep him on a leash.
  • Steer your pet clear of long grasses, bushes and rocks.
  • Snakes can strike across a distance equal to about half their body length. If you see a snake, head back the way you came.
  • Familiarize yourself with snakes who are common in your area. In the event of a bite, identifying the type of snake may help with your pet’s treatment.

Recognize Snake Bite Symptoms:

  • Local or general swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Intense pain
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dead tissue around the wound
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Renal failure

What to Do If You Think Your Pet’s Been Bitten:

  • Remember to stay calm.
  • Keep your pet calm, too, by limiting his activity.
  • If your pet was bitten on the neck, remove his collar.
  • If possible, keep the location of the bite below heart level.
  • Seek veterinary care for your pet immediately.
  • Treatment options such as cold packs, ice, tourniquets, alcohol, bleeding the wound and trying to suck out venom should not be attempted in place of getting your pet to the vet! They may just waste precious time.
  • Always keep your personal safety in mind and do not try to catch or kill a snake yourself.
  • Even if you think a snake is dead, never handle him. Some dead snakes are capable of inflicting a bite by muscle contractions.

Venomous Snakes In Maryland:

Only two of the twenty seven kinds of snakes inhabiting Maryland are venomous:
the copperhead and timber rattlesnake.

Northern Copperhead

This is one of the two venomous snake species in Maryland. The color is a rich, reddish, brown with a series of darker hourglass markings down its back. Its head is usually a bright copper color and its belly is pinkish. It seldom exceeds three feet in length. It has a single anal plate and keeled scales. This is the only Maryland snake that has dark dorsal markings which are narrow on the back and broad on the sides. Copperheads exist throughout the State in remote rocky, wooded areas where they feed on small rodents and other warm-blooded prey. Occasionally, they will feed on aquatic animals. Females give birth to approximately 12 live young which are 8-10 inches in length.


Timber Rattlesnake
(Crotalus horridus horridus)

This venomous reptile is the only species of snake in the State with a segmented rattle at the end of its tail. It has brown or black cheveron-shaped markings on a yellow background, down its back. The background color may vary from a bright yellow to a dull gray. Entirely black specimens also occur. This snake rarely exceeds six feet in length. It commonly occurs in the remote rocky, mountainous sections of the State. Females may give birth to as many as 12 live young which are approximately 9-10 inches long. The pit viper habit of congregating at dens, creates a situation wherein considerable numbers of rattlesnakes and copperheads can be seen at one time.


Major Identification Features

non-venomous snake

  1. Round pupils

  2. No sensing pit

  3. Head slightly wider than neck

  4. Divided anal plate

  5. Double row of scales on the underside of the tail

venomous snake

  1. Elliptical pupils

  2. Sensing pit between eye and nostril

  3. Head much wider than neck

  4. Single anal plate

  5. Single scales on the underside of the tail


Here at Falls Road Veterinary Hospital we have already seen a few cases of snake bites this year! We have also heard from several clients in the local area of snake sighting close to their homes! Please take great care and caution when encountering any type of snake!

Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. (301) 983-8400.




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