Snake bites: What to do if you are bitten

As the temperatures outside offer an inviting feel, snakes will start slithering around in order to defrost from the winter's cold.

If you find yourself with a snake bite, Duke's Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Charles Gerardo said there are somethings you should know.

"If there's a snake in the wild, there's not need to handle it," Dr. Gerardo said.

SEE ALSO: The 6 venomous snakes in North Carolina you should know how to identify

Just leave the snake alone if you can.

If you do get bitten, Dr. Gerardo said offered the following advice:

  • Don't cut the bite.
  • Don't attempt to suck out the poison. "This can actually make the wound worse," Dr. Gerardo said.
  • Avoid tourniquets. If a tourniquet is used and then removed "It's like a big slug of venom that can cause all kinds of problems."
  • Avoid icing the bite "It can worsen the tissue damage."
  • Don't use electricity on the wound
  • Don't attempt to treat the bite at home


Instead you should stay calm and seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

SEE ALSO: Critter control companies around the Triangle slammed with requests to relocate snakes

Dr. Gerardo said that most snake bites occur in common places, like near wood piles or in the garden. He encourages people to wear gloves and closed toe shoes when they are in those areas.

Additionally, he said it's a myth that smaller snakes are more vicious because they can't control their venom. Dr. Gerardo said instead the larger the snake the worse the bite. He said larger snakes have more venom and can deliver more of it if they strike.
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