How Do You Kill a Rattlesnake?

Most people do not know how to kill a rattlesnake if they had to. Most of the time this is not recommended as it is better just to move away from a rattlesnake and leave it alone. But sometimes you just cannot get to where you need to go without killing the little bugger.

Situations Where You May Need To Kill a Rattlesnake

There are several situations that may require killing a rattlesnake. For instance, you may be on a long hike far away from civilization that makes it difficult to reach medical care. All of a sudden, you must cross a narrow pass where a large angry rattlesnake is sitting and preventing you from getting across.

Or, you need to camp at night in a clearing in the summertime, and you know of one hanging around close enough to be dangerous to you.

Another example is if you are a rancher in the southwestern regions of the USA. Rattlesnakes here can pose a threat to your livestock. One may even sneak up to your home and put your children or pets at risk. If you cannot safely remove it, then it may need to be killed.

It is always best just to avoid rattlesnakes and let them be, or have a professional pest removal service take it away, but sometimes that is not possible.

What You Can Use To Kill a Rattlesnake

Many different types of tools can be used to kill a rattlesnake. These include:

  • Shovel
  • Large knife
  • Gun
  • Large rock
  • Brick
  • Ax
  • Wooden club
  • A long, sharp stick
  • Sledgehammer
  • Your hands (only experts should try this)

If you have good aim, you can kill a rattlesnake quickly by shooting it in the head and you don’t need to be too close either. If need to get close to a rattlesnake, make sure to wear rubber boots or snake boots. Also, keep your limbs away from the rattlesnake as best you can. If you find a rattlesnake in your backyard it is best to have it removed by a professional rather than kill it.

Rattlesnake Warning Sign

Trapping and Holding the Rattlesnake

You can trap a snake with a snake trap which will allow you to stay at safe distance from it. Snake traps are available in different forms which you can purchase online. Caged snake traps can be quite expensive but do a good job of safely capturing a live rattlesnake. The upside is that you can choose to safely remove the snake without having to kill it. Other less expensive snake traps are also used for catching mice and use a sticky glue-covered material that freezes the snake in place. The downside of this type of trap is that you probably have to kill the snake once it is stuck.

If you trap a live rattlesnake it is probably best to not hold it captive for too long. They are not accustomed to close human contact and will need to be given food and water after some time.

If you live in a region with many types of snakes, consider purchasing a snake trap or two of the caged variety to have when you need them.

Good Snake Hooks

Zikimed Snake Heavy Duty Hook Stainless Steel 18″ Long

BOVONVON 55 inch Collapsible Snake Hook, Non-Rotatable, Telescopic Rods

Tom’s Reptile Supplies Midwest 40 Inch Standard Snake Hook

Will Fire Kill a Rattlesnake?

Like all animals and insects, a fire can kill rattlesnakes if they get consumed by it or too close to the intense heat. Rattlesnakes are flesh and blood and can be cooked over a fire or makeshift bbq if you need to eat one in the woods for sustenance.

If rattlesnakes avoid the intense heat of a forest fire, they can actually benefit from it in the long term. After a forest fire has cleared the overgrowth in a forest, rattlesnakes can receive more sunlight on the floor where they live.

Can You Drown a Rattlesnake?

Like all creatures that do not have gills (aka, fish), rattlesnakes cannot be submerged underwater indefinitely without coming up for air. Rattlesnakes get oxygen from the air with their lungs, and they do have nostrils that will allow them to grab some air from time to time while swimming underwater.

Rattlesnakes favor sticking to land but will go into a lake or stream to hunt and mate if it suits them. They can also bite you while in the water, so do not get too close to one that is swimming. It is possible to drown a snake by holding one under the water for a long enough time. However, this could take a long time, as rattlesnakes are thought to be able to hold their breath for up to 45 minutes.

Can You Kill a Rattlesnake By Running Over It?

You can definitely kill a rattlesnake by running over it. If you drive over a rattlesnake with a car or truck, you will likely crush its body or head and it will probably die immediately or soon after. But you may not be able to kill a rattlesnake if you run over one while riding a bicycle. This will probably just injure it and cause it to suffer. If you do run it over with a car, you may still not kill it instantly and it will likely feel a lot of pain. Perhaps it is best to just drive away and let the rattlesnake move on from the road that you found it on.

How Long Does It Take a Rattlesnake To Die?

A rattlesnake will die instantly if you break its neck. To do this, you need to grab the tail and whip it through the air, which will kill the rattlesnake instantly. However, grabbing the tail can be difficult and dangerous if you do not have a proper snake hook to use. If you don’t know what you are doing and are not wearing safety gloves, it can easily bite you.

If you chop off the rattlesnake’s head, the head can still bite people. The snake’s body may be non-functional afterward, but the head will be active for a bit of time and will still have its venom.

How Do You Know If a Rattlesnake Is Dead?

Signs that a rattlesnake is dead include a limp body, bleeding or dried wound along its body, or it has a crushed or severed head. However, in some instances, you cannot be sure when you come across one, because a rattlesnake could be sunning or napping and appear very still. The only way to know for sure is to poke it or scare it so that it wakes up and moves around. Kids especially may not be able to tell if it is dead and might be curious to find out. This is very dangerous for them and they should be taught not to do this.

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Nick Klamecki, Author
About Nick Klamecki, Author

Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree 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. Learn more about Nick here or connect with him on LinkedIn | Medium