Emergency Tips for Venomous Snake or Spider Bites

Texas is home to all sorts of wildlife—some more dangerous than others. Snakes, spiders, and other venomous animals can be found all over the state, and it’s important to know what to do in case you get bitten or stung. Here at Golden Triangle Emergency Center we are dedicated to helping our patients and community stay safe from all sorts of health threats, including venomous bites and stings. That’s why we put together these emergency tips for how to handle venomous snake or spider bites.

Identifying Snakes

Texas is home to four kinds of venomous snakes: rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins or cottonmouths, and coral snakes. The type of venom, and thus treatment given, varies across species. The best way to prevent snakebites is simply to avoid disturbing snakes in the first place, but if a bite does happen, then identifying the snake is very important so that medical professionals such as those at GTEC can determine which treatments to use. Try to get a good look at the snake; take a picture with your phone if necessary. However, do not get so close that the snake can bite again.

Venomous Snakes in Texas

Rattlesnakes, found across the state, are immediately identifiable by the rattles on their tails. Copperheads, as the name suggests, have copper-colored scales marked with hourglass-shaped bands of darker brown. Cottonmouths, also called water moccasins, are typically found around lakes and rivers; they are dark brown or black with lighter undersides and white mouths. Finally, coral snakes can be identified by their distinctive red, yellow, and black bands. Although there are many snakes that mimic this coloration pattern, coral snakes can be identified due to the fact that the red and black bands never touch.

First Aid for Venomous Snake Bites

In case of a snakebite, the best first aid practice is to have the victim lie down and remain as still as possible. This will slow circulation and the spread of poison through the body. The affected limb should be immobilized and positioned lower than the heart. While there are many popular myths about how snakebites should be treated, including cutting the area around the bite, sucking out the venom, or burning the bite, these solutions can be ineffective at best and dangerous at worst.

Medical Attention for Venomous Snake Bites

Instead, it is important to ensure that the victim is given medical attention as soon as possible. Visit an emergency room such as GTEC or call 911. This is to ensure that medication can be given to sedate the victim and relieve pain, and that antivenom can be administered to counteract the poison. The treatment given will depend on the severity of the reaction.

Venomous Spiders in Texas

Texas is also home to a number of poisonous spiders. The two most common are the brown recluse and black widow. Although identifying the spider that caused a bite is typically desirable, it might not always be possible since a bite might not be noticed for several minutes or even hours. Again, the best treatment is prevention—be careful when picking up rocks, firewood, or other items that spiders like to hide under, and shake out shoes and gloves before putting them on if they have been left outside.

Black Widows

Black widows can easily be identified by their black bodies and red hourglass shapes on their abdomens. Although the black widow is well-known and widely feared, this spider’s bite is rarely fatal. Generally, the bite is not even felt when it first occurs, although a painful burning sensation may begin to manifest itself within one-to-three hours.

Brown Recluses

On the other hand, brown recluse spiders are often brown or gray in color, with a violin-shaped marking near the back of the head. Although effects from a brown recluse bite can vary, a fever and chills may occur between 24 and 36 hours after the bite.

First Aid for Spider Bites

In the event of a spider bite, then the first step is to apply ice to the wound. This can reduce pain and swelling and may slow the spread of the venom. Then ensure that the victim receives medical attention and antidote to the poison if needed.

Other Venomous Pests in Texas

Finally, scorpions also live in Texas, some of which can be fatal. Typically, these creatures inject venom through a barb on their tail; pain from a scorpion sting is usually intense and immediate. In case of a scorpion sting, it is imperative that the victim is given professional treatment. Have the victim remain still and calm, apply ice if possible, and seek medical attention. Professionals at hospitals or emergency rooms such as Golden Triangle Emergency Center can provide assistance in case of spider, snake, and scorpion bites and stings.