Safety • Jun 15, 2023

How to Treat Snake Bites in Missouri

Warmer weather in Missouri means more time spent outside. While it may not be anyone’s favorite topic, it’s important to know how to treat snake bites if you or someone you are with gets bitten by a snake.

There are about 120 snake species in the United States, but only about 20 are venomous. Of those 20 venomous species, you can find five in Missouri. These include Copperheads, Cottonmouths, Timber Rattlesnakes, Massasauga Rattlesnakes, and Western Pygmy Rattlesnakes. Even though Missouri does have these venomous snakes, there have only ever been two reported fatalities from snake bites in Missouri. So while they can be dangerous, they are usually not fatal.

A snake bit is a medical emergency, so you’ll need to act quickly. First, try to move to a safe area to avoid further injury. Then, call 911 as soon as you can. While you are waiting to get medical treatment, clean the area as well as you can. While doing so, keep the bitten extremity below the level of the heart to deter the venom.

There are plenty of myths about snake bites, so we also want to review what not to do when a snake bite occurs. Sucking out the venom and opening the bite area up will not help, and could potentially make the situation worse. It is also not necessary to apply a tourniquet.

The good news about snakes is that they only bite when they feel threatened. Snakes tend to be more afraid of people than people are of them. Because of this, they generally steer clear of areas that humans are in. If you encounter a snake, move away from it so that it does not feel cornered. As long as you avoid snakes and do not provoke them, you are unlikely to have any issues with snake bites.