We all know that the outdoors are an amazing place to get some fresh air, but there are dangers lurking in the trees and bushes.
One of these dangers is snakes.
If you’re hiking, then it’s important to be aware of what to do if you see a snake so that you don’t have any unpleasant surprises while enjoying nature.
In this blog post, we will discuss 12 steps on how to prevent snake bites while hiking!
What To Do If You See A Snake While Hiking? How do you deal with snakes while hiking?
You need to keep in mind that most snakes aren’t venomous. They are creatures just like you and me. They are just in their natural habitat.
It is important you don’t go towards the snake and keep your distance from it so, not only you but, the snake as well feel safe.
Should I be afraid of snakes while hiking?
Snakes are not always venomous. So, you don’t have to be afraid all the time if you see a snake while hiking.
It’s only when it comes in your vicinity or tries to attack do you need to worry about getting bitten by one.
Can You Prevent Snake Bites While Hiking?
Yes, you can prevent snake bites while hiking. There are a few things that you can do to help keep snakes away from you and to reduce your chances of being bitten.
How To Prevent Snake Bites While Hiking? 12 Steps To Prevent Snake Bites While Hiking
Here are the 12 steps you should take to prevent snake bites while hiking:
1. Wear Proper Hiking Boots
Always wear proper hiking boots while going out for a hike. Not only will it protect you from snakes, but also sharp rocks and other debris that can hurt your feet or cause blisters during a long hike.
If you don’t have proper hiking boots, then consider getting one for your next hike. It will make the entire experience more pleasant and comfortable.
I personally alternate between this and this.
Don’t go out on short hikes without wearing them as they are very important to have when you are out on a hike.
2. Wear Proper Hiking Pants
Wearing proper hiking pants can also help you when it comes to preventing snake bites while hiking.
If you are wearing long jeans, then they will hinder your movement and make things difficult if there is an emergency situation where you need to leave in a hurry.
It’s best not to wear anything too loose either as that might catch the wind and attract snakes towards you.
So opt for hiking pants that are not too loose and also don’t restrict your movements in any way.
I am going to be making a blog post on best-hiking pants so, be sure to be on the lookout for it.
3. You Want to Stay on the Trail While Hiking
Staying on the hiking trail at all times while you are out in nature will help prevent bites.
You want to stay away from tall weeds or brushes.
Snakes are often found in the brush or high grass so it is best to avoid them.
If you have to walk through tall grass, then do so very carefully and try not to make too much noise.
Be especially careful if there is a snake nearby.
This also goes for crossing logs or boulders while hiking – be cautious!
4. Don’t Hike Alone In Remote Areas
If you are going on a hike, then don’t go alone. Especially in remote areas!
There is safety in numbers and it’s best to take someone with you when hiking to prevent snake bites while hiking.
This also helps if there is an emergency situation where one of the hikers gets bitten by a snake or injured for some reason and needs help immediately.
Although if you are well prepared and experienced you can go hiking alone.
5. Don’t Go Near Or Touch A Snake Even It Looks Dead
If you see a snake while hiking, then don’t go near it or touch it. Even if the snake looks dead!
Snakes often play dead when they are feeling threatened and that is why it is important to stay away from them.
You might think that since the snake is already dead, there’s no harm in touching it but, it’s best not to take the chance.
If you accidentally touch a dead snake and then get bitten, there might be no antivenom for that particular species of venomous snake.
6. Look out for any snakes which may be hidden when you are trying to pick up any sticks or rocks
When you are trying to pick up a stick or rock that is lying on the ground, take a look around and check for any snakes which might be hidden nearby.
Many snakebites happen because people don’t notice them and step right onto one without knowing it!
It’s best to very slowly push aside anything off the ground just in case there is a snake hiding underneath it before you reach down to pick it up.
This goes for leaves and other debris on the ground as well.
Be alert at all times when hiking!
7. Wear Thick High Socks
Although wearing hiking boots is the best way to prevent snake bites while hiking, you should also consider wearing high socks.
High socks will protect your ankle area which many snakes love to bite at!
It’s hard for a snake to reach an ankle unless it climbs up someone or if they are standing on something elevated like a log.
8. Carry a Snake Bite / First Aid Kit with you
If you are hiking in an area where there is a possibility of encountering snakes, then it is best to carry a snake bite kit with you.
A snake bite kit usually consists of gloves, a suction device, scalpel or razor blade, adhesive bandages and antiseptic wipes.
This will help you if you do get bitten by a snake and need to treat the bite immediately.
Alternatively, you can just carry a proper first aid kit, I personally use this one.
9. Stay Calm
If you spot a snake, it’s best to stay calm. You want to remain calm and quietly move around it.
Panicking will not help the situation so just stay calm and focused.
The more you panic, the more likely you are to get bitten!
Remember these tips when hiking and you’ll be much safer while out on nature trails.
10. Choose Wide Trails Over Narrow Ones
When hiking, always choose wide trails over narrow ones.
The wider the trail, the less likely you are to encounter a snake.
Narrow trails provide more cover for snakes and they are also easier places for them to ambush prey.
So if you can help it, stick to wide open trails when hiking.
11. Hike with Trekking Poles
If you are hiking with trekking poles, then this is a good way to prevent snake bites while hiking.
Trekking poles can be used as an extra tool of defense against snakes if they come near you or your group.
You can also use them to gently prod the ground nearby for any hidden snakes before taking another step forward.
I personally use these while I go out hiking.
12. Avoid Listening To Music Or A Podcast While Hiking
If you are hiking, it is best to avoid listening to music or a podcast.
This may make you less aware of your surroundings and can lead to more accidents like tripping over roots in the ground for example.
You could also get bitten by a snake since you are less careful. You want to absorb every bit of nature while you are hiking, you can listen to music sometime else.
How To Tell Which Snakes Are Venomous While Hiking? Venomous Snakes
If you live in the United States, there are 4 types of snakes that are venomous. You should always research what type of snakes are out there in your area before going hiking. Although keep in mind that most snakes are non-venomous.
Water Moccasins Or Cottonmouths
The water moccasin, also known as the cottonmouth, is a venomous snake that lives in the southern United States. This snake is easily identified because of the white mouth lining which gives it its name.
Can Be Found At:
- Dark brown / Black Color
- Large Scales
- Triangular Head
- 50 – 55 inches long
If you are bitten by a water moccasin, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
They are very aggressive and will attack if they feel threatened. The bite from one of these snakes can be deadly, but it doesn’t always have to end that way.
If treated quickly enough the venom can often be stopped or reversed by medical professionals giving you a better chance at survival.
The copperhead is a venomous snake that can be found in the eastern and central United States.
Can Be Found At:
- Grassy Fields
- 36 – 40 inches long
- Reddish Brown Color
- Smaller Scales Than Other Snakes
- Broad Head
The copperhead is not as aggressive as some of the other venomous snakes in the US, but you should still avoid them if possible.
If bitten, seek medical attention immediately. Copperheads have a less potent venom than some of the other venomous snakes, but it can still be deadly.
Rattle Snakes are the most recognizable of all venomous snakes
Can Be Found At:
- Rocky Terrain
- Darker Colors Like Brown Or Black
- Easily Identified By Its Rattle
- Triangular head
- Diamond Shaped Pattern Skin
Rattles on the end of their tail make a distinctive sound when they shake it to warn you off! Don’t get too close to this snake, if bitten you need to seek medical attention immediately.
The venom from a Rattlesnake is the most deadly of all the snakes in North America so be very careful around them!
You can read this guide on what to do if you are bitten by a rattlesnake here.
Coral snakes are venomous snakes that can be found in the southeastern US.
Can Be Found At:
- Small Scales (Easier To Grip)
- Red, Yellow And Black Colors In A Rows Pattern On Their Bodies(Red & Yellow Together Make For A Very Pretty Snake!)
Coral snakes are very reclusive and the chances of seeing one are low. But if you see this snake, it is best to leave them alone. They will only attack when provoked so don’t get too close!
Although less dangerous than some other venomous snakes in North America, they can still kill you if not treated quickly. If bitten, seek medical attention immediately!
So those are the four venomous snakes to watch out for when hiking in the United States.
But remember, most snakes are non-venomous so don’t be afraid to go out and enjoy nature!
Just use common sense and be aware of your surroundings!
What To Do If A Snake Bites You While Hiking?
Here are 5 steps you want to take if you are bitten by a snake while hiking:
1. Remain Calm And Don’t Panic
Panicking will not help you because it increases your heart rate and blood pressure.
This may cause the venom to spread faster throughout your body, but staying calm gives you a chance to think about what is happening and how you should act next.
You can also avoid panicking by knowing that most snakes are non-venomous and only a few species carry venom.
2. Contact Emergency Services
If you are bitten by a snake and there is swelling, redness or pain around the bite mark, then it’s time to call emergency services.
They will provide you with instructions on what to do next and may even send an ambulance to take you to the hospital.
You can do the following:
- Contact 911 (Only works if you have cellphone reception.)
- Ask for someone who you are hiking with to contact/find help
- I highly recommend getting a quality GPS device over-relying on your cellphone because they typically tend to have SOS signals you can send out. I personally use the Garmin GPSMAP 66i.
3. Move Far Away From The Snake and Sit Down
If you are bitten by a snake, the last thing you want to do is move closer to it.
This could provoke the snake and lead to more severe injuries.
Instead, try to calmly back away from the snake while keeping an eye on it.
Once you have moved a safe distance away, sit down and keep your feet elevated.
This will help slow down the spread of venom and give you time to think about what to do next.
If you are with someone else, have them go for help while you stay put.
4. Loosen Up Your Clothing / Accessories
The last thing you want to do is stay in tight clothing or accessories.
This can help slow down the venom from spreading and give it a chance to be absorbed by your body before entering your bloodstream.
To loosen up, I recommend taking off any shirts, pants, shoes or anything else that may be constricting you.
5. Don’t Try To Treat It Yourself
Unless you are a doctor, trying to treat a snake bite yourself can do more harm than good.
Leave the treatment up to the professionals and focus on your own health and safety.
They will know how to best treat the snake venom and may give you medications or treatments to help ease the symptoms.
- Try to suck the venom out
- Don’t take painkillers like ibuprofen or aspirin as they thin your blood.
- Don’t apply heat or ice to the area.
Conclusion – Preventing Snake Bites While Hiking
I hope you liked my post on how to prevent snake bites while hiking.
Please share it with your friends and family and let them know what to do if they are ever bitten.
Remember, the best way to avoid getting bit is to be aware of your surroundings and use common sense!
When should I hike to avoid snakes? What time of year are snakes most active?
You shouldn’t be scared to hike so much so that you avoid hiking during specific seasons. However, snakes are the least active during the fall and winter.
Spring is when snakes are the most active because they are coming out of hibernation and looking for food.
Summertime is also a high activity time for snakes as they search for mates and cool off in bodies of water.
Can snakes bite through hiking shoes?
Yes, it is possible for a snake to bite through some types of shoes. However, you are more likely to get bitten on the foot while wearing sandals or flip-flops because they offer no protection at all.
Can snakes bite through hiking pants?
Yes, snakes can bite through hiking pants but, it depends on how the snake bites and how thick your pants are.
Most likely not. While it is possible, you will most often get bitten on the leg or ankle while wearing shorts that are torn at the hemline exposing skin.
How do you keep snakes away from trail running / hiking?
The best way to prevent snakebites while trail running / hiking is to follow these 12 tips I talked about above:
- Wear Proper Hiking Boots
- Wear Proper Hiking Pants
- Stay On the Trail While Hiking
- Don’t Hike Alone in remote areas
- Don’t Go Near Or Touch A Snake that looks dead
- Look out for any snakes in hidden bushes or rocks
- Wear thick high socks
- Carry A First Aid Kit
- Stay Calm
- Choose Wide Trails Over Narrow Ones
- Hike With Trekking Poles
- Avoid Listening To Music Or A Podcast While Hiking
Can You Do Me A Small Favor?
I have put a lot of time & effort into writing this post to provide you with the best info out there.
It’ll help me out if you could consider sharing it on your social media networks. You are also allowed to take any photo you want from my blog as long as you credit and link back!
Appreciate it! ❤️️
Hey, I am the founder of Outside Origin! I love hiking in my spare time and have gone to various different hikes. You can check out our about us section to learn more about what our team and I do over at Outside Origin.