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To suck... Or not to suck (the snakebite that is...)

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posted on Jan, 2 2010 @ 04:58 PM
As an avid outdoorsman and lover of nature, the one fear I have has been tangling with a snake. Though I know that snakes would flee before scuffling with a human, the fear still resides with me. Since the stories of the Superstition Mountains were told to me, Rattlers, Cobras, Copperheads... Getting bit HAS to suck.

But what about the snakebite itself? The American Red Cross states that you DO NOT suck the venom from a snakebite out. However, I'm sure most of us have seen the little inventions that do just that, some that are even included into survival/outdoor bags.

So where's the truth? Are you not suppose to suck the venom out and hopefully not die in the mountains or is using the venom sucker a valid option? Has the information to attempt to remove the venom just a propganda act put on by the inventers of these venom suckers?

I am looking forward to the coming spring and being out in the woods once again... But should one of these little suction devices be in my walking bag?

posted on Jan, 2 2010 @ 05:19 PM
My sister in law an ER nurse... once told me Cutting into the bite will just create infections.

If the snake is an elapid species (coral snakes and cobras), wrap the extremity with an elastic pressure bandage. Start from the point closest to the heart and wrap towards the fingers or toes. Keep the bite lower than the heart.

apart from that the only thing you can do is seek medical attention ASAP

posted on Jan, 2 2010 @ 05:37 PM
The "sucker" thingy is a gimick. Good resources for wilderness medicine/treatments are the WMI or WMA websites. Look them up, they will give some good overviews.
WMA fact check,

1. Is there any benefit to the "cut-and-suck" method or should we get rid of it altogether?
2. What is your professional opinion on the effectiveness of suction devices?
3. Should a responder apply a tourniquet to a snake bite victim?
4. Should a coldpack be applied to a snake bite victim?
5. Is marking the edge of the bite to track the swelling helpful to medical personnel?


1. No, none. In fact, it could result in an infection, impair healing and the cut could cause an unintended injury.
2. Useless. A nice study done a few years ago demonstrated their lack of efficacy. Their reputation was based on hype and not science.
3.Never a tourniquet. For some with neurotoxins, especially the most potent ones found outside of NA, [North America] a compression wrap may be helpful.
4. It will not help and could cause more injury.
5. Yes, it could be.

WMI (Australia) PDF
WMI australia, snake bite

[edit on 2-1-2010 by LadySkadi]

posted on Jan, 2 2010 @ 05:38 PM
I always heard it was because it messes up your mouth, like gargling bleach would.

Then you wouldn't be able to eat or drink, and coupled with your snake bite, you'd probably be a gonner!

posted on Jan, 2 2010 @ 05:40 PM
As a red blooded male sucking is never the option
it will make your lips fall off and will not stop the spread of venom the best treatment in a tournique and antivenom

posted on Jan, 2 2010 @ 06:41 PM
like DaddyBare said, adding more trauma to the snake-bite site might lead to infection, plus it will increase blood flow to and from the site.

and the thing with snakebites, especially rattlesnake bites (which is what we get mostly here in New Mexico), is to try to keep the poison from spreading in the blood system.

it is going to spread, a certain degree, just because of the heart's beating, but there are ways to promote stasis (decreased movement) of the venom:

  • DON'T elevate the site - because gravity will increase the flow from the bite to the rest of the body
  • DON'T apply heat - heat dilates the blood vessels which in turn increases flow
  • DON'T let the victim move unnecessarily or exert themselves - movement also increases blood flow - pick them up and carry them, if you are able to do so
  • DON'T panic and don't let the victim panic - this also increases circulation
  • DO call the emergency room ahead of time, if at all possible, so that they can be prepared with the anti-venin and other necessary supplies.

a tourniquet is often recommended but i'd say it is a judgment call related to each situation because cutting off blood flow altogether can be more damaging than the snake bite, in the long run. personally, i would NOT apply a tourniquet - it's not going to necessarily stop deep blood flow, anyway - and if it is tight enough to do so, it is going to cause tissue damage from hypoxia (lack of oxygen getting to tissue)

that's from my own experience as an RN in snake-bite country.

for dogs, there is a snake-bite vaccine that works as a preventative - i'm not sure if it is just for rattlesnakes or not - it's something i saw at my vet's

posted on Jan, 2 2010 @ 06:49 PM
Well I just did my First Aid update & that is an easy question to answer.

NEVER suck the venom from a snake bite wound, it is venom/ toxic, & you can still die from ingesting the venom just as easily as from it being in the bloodstream.

It is also not recommended to cut into the wound area, & washing the affected area can be detrimental in identifying the species of snake that bit the victim.

So, no sucking, no cutting, no washing, no tourniquet, & no walking the victim out if possible.

Pressure bandage has been the accepted method for many years now, tourniquet has too many problems, & applying the pressure bandage as was stated in one of the above posts.

I do like the "try to keep the victim calm" approach thou. I have to say that snakes are my phobia, & if I were bitten by one, heart attack would be the death method & waaay before the venom had reached the vital organs to shut them down!

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 11:47 AM
Great info guys & gals! Thank you alot! Now in a real world case that I run into quite often.

Up in a mountain, the better part of an hour from a hospital, copperhead bite.

Any suggestions on how to treat such a situation?

posted on Jan, 4 2010 @ 12:33 AM
snakes will not always inject venom through a bite, and when bitten doesn't mean that your about to die instantly.
This also does not mean that a snake bite can not kill by other means than just the venom through a bite.
The best thing to do is stay calm, apply a pressure bandage and seek medical help as soon as possible.

If the bodies immune systems have enough time to help deal with the toxicity from the venom by immobilizing the area of bite, keeping the limb below heart level and not alowing the heart rate to increase too much there will be a better chance at survival.
If in a situation where travel is necessary, take it slow and steady to get to help, otherwise a last resort of staying still without too much movement, maybe even for a few days, or until well enough to get to help.
This is if you can make it without dieing in the meantime.

Best advice is to stay aware of your suroundings at all times and not be bitten in the first place, wear protective boots, heavy material trousers, leather gloves, long sleave shirts to prevent a bite of maximum impact on oneself.
be safe, stay aware.

posted on Jan, 4 2010 @ 03:23 PM
If you are going to suck, at least don't swallow.

Seriously, leave the actual bite area alone apart from applying a pressure bandage and splints.

It's important to stop the lymph flow, not the blood flow. So immobilise the limb with a splint, and bandage as tightly as you would a sprained ankle, starting close to the trunk. Keep the victim quiet and still until transport arrives, or get the him onto an improvised stretcher if he needs to be moved.

Don't give any medication, particularly not aspirin, as that can make internal haemorrhaging worse.

Do give fluids, as some snake venom affects the kidneys badly and more fluid can help them keep functioning.

Watch the patient and be ready to give mouth to mouth resuscitation until medical help arrives if he stops breathing.

If the bite is serious it's vital that the venom traces left on the skin are still there when the patient gets to hospital so they can be analysed to identify the snake and the appropriate anti-venin can be used.

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 01:24 AM

Originally posted by Jkd Up
Great info guys & gals! Thank you alot! Now in a real world case that I run into quite often.

Up in a mountain, the better part of an hour from a hospital, copperhead bite.

Any suggestions on how to treat such a situation?

Follow the advice given in other replies -- apply a compression bandage, try not to exert yourself (causing increased heartrate/bloodflow).

Copperheads are common in my area as well. Most people don't know this but Copperheads bite more people in the U.S. every year than any other snake.

Fortunately for us the Copperhead's venom is fairly weak compared to other pit vipers, and the volume (amount of venom injected) is low too. Copperhead bites are rarely fatal, except in small children.

Remember though that snake mouths are some of the dirtiest places on earth and without medical help a secondary infection at the wound site would be a definite possibility. Permanent tissue damage is also likely without immediate medical attention.

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