Rattlesnake bites can cause serious health complications for anyone, and children are no exception. h rattlesnake venom. The only way to avoid this is to not be bitten in the first place and the only way to do that is to be vigilant and protect yourself and your child at all times. But if your child is bitten, how dangerous is it? Find out below.
How Many Children Are Bitten by Rattlesnakes?
In the United States, 1300 children receive snake bites per year on average, many of them venomous. A significant portion of these bites resulted in the child needing intensive medical care.
Where Do Children Get Bitten By Rattlesnakes?
Children are at risk of rattlesnake bites because they like to play in the outdoors, in grasses, around trees, and do not fear their surroundings like older kids and adults do. Modern family lifestyles also contribute, with more people moving to the suburbs and less developed spaces. Having small children always wear pants and boots while playing outdoors will help keep them protected from snakebites. Never allow your children to wear flip-flops anywhere but by the pool or on a beach as this leaves their feet exposed to snakes. Small children also like to pick things up, so they could try to handle a snake they find while playing. They need to be taught to not get too close to snakes and to leave them alone. However, most snake bites to children happen when they accidentally step on them.
How Dangerous Is A Rattlesnake Bite To Children?
Children, like adults, are in danger of serious health effects from rattlesnake venom. The intensity of the symptoms will vary depending on the amount of venom injected, the size and health of the child, and how fast treatment is received for the bite. It is important to note that symptoms can have a delayed onset.
Affects of rattlesnake bites on children (and adults):
- Blood clotting
- Neurotoxic complications
- Kidney or other organ failures
- Bite scars
- Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, muscle pain, and weakness
- Intense pain and shock
- Death (worst case scenario)
- Necrosis to the skin and tissue in the area of the bite
- Internal bleeding
Death to children or adults from rattlesnake bites is rare but usually happens when the amount of envenomation is high and the treatment is delayed. The longer a child goes without treatment for a rattlesnake bite, the worse the outcome will likely be. Different rattlesnake species will have varying venom strength so you can never quite know how harmful it will be unless you know which one did the biting. However, it is safe to assume that if it was a rattlesnake, then the venom is very dangerous. Children should be treated in an emergency room, so parents should not delay in getting them straight to the hospital. A poison center should also be contacted during the course of treatment.
The bite itself can be painful and will likely cause significant emotional upset of the child, as well as require a bandage to heal.
Rattlesnakes can leave very deep and visible bite marks on children, adults, and pets that they stumble across. These bite marks can remain as scars that stay for the remainder of the child’s life.
A toddler can easily die from a rattlesnake bite if not given anti-venom fast enough. Since symptoms may not appear immediately, many parents and doctors may think that the child does need very much antivenom. But this could be a very big mistake, as was the case with this child.
Small Child (4-7)
Small children are slightly better able to handle rattlesnake venom, but not by much. They do not have much size so a strong rattlesnake bite can cause serious medical consequences. Get them to the hospital immediately.
Large Child (8-12)
Larger children can handle rattlesnake bites slightly better than smaller children and toddlers. Their size will help them handle similar amounts of venom. However, they can still get very sick, just as adults when bitten by a rattlesnake. Large children, as well as small children, will likely have emotional upset and intense pain if bitten by any type of snake. Large children will know how to avoid snakes better than small children and their curiosity will not get the best of them if they come across one while playing.
Teenagers will be better able to control their curiosity around rattlesnakes and know best how to avoid them. By this age, they understand that rattlesnakes are very venomous and not worth messing with. However, teenagers love to hike in the outdoors and play sports with their friends, so they are just as likely to run into a rattlesnake as any other child. Teenagers, being much larger than other children are best able to handle snake venom, but it can still make them very ill. They should know to get to a hospital quickly if they are out without adult supervision and are bitten by a rattlesnake.
What To Do If Your Child Is Bitten By a Rattlesnake?
Seek medical attention immediately and follow all instructions by your medical provider. The longer you wait to treat your child’s rattlesnake bite, the worse it could get. If you believe the venom has gotten into your child’s system, you should NOT try to suck the venom out yourself. Instead, just treat it like a normal wound and seek medical treatment. It is also important to find out the type of snake that bit your child, if possible. Even if you do not know what type of snake it was, always treat it as if it was a venomous one. Dial 911 if you need help getting to the hospital or do not know what to do. Ask your medical provider about antivenin (antivenom) and if it is needed.
Not all children get bit when they come across rattlesnakes, but it is important to know that it can and does happen. Rattlesnakes have fangs that leave many children with ugly bite marks. It is important for parents to be aware of signs that their children may be at risk and to take action immediately before the problem escalates out of control.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.