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The southwest does harbor quite a few poisonous critters, including rattlesnakes. While these are some of the most venomous creatures in the country, you’ll find that they usually avoid humans. It’s only by being careless that you risk injury.
First of all , don’t handle any of these critters. I’ve read that in Tucson, Arizona at least one person each year is rushed to the hospital when he (the victim is usually male, young, and often under the influence) is struck by a rattlesnake as he tries to kiss it—NOT SMART. Don’t stick your hands or feet into or under anything where you can’t see-bushes, brush, dark corners, etcetera. Leave your tent zipped up tight, and check your boots and any clothing left outside your tent before putting them on. At night (critters preferred time for moving about), wear shoes and use a flashlight while you are up and around.
The only time I have ever seen a rattlesnake was while hiking in Yosemite National Park. Although you will rarely come across a rattler, care must always be taken to avoid a strike. In most cases, you will hear the rattle long before you can see the snake. If you hear the buzz of a rattler, freeze immediately and (without moving your head if possible) locate the snake with your gaze. Once the snake relaxes from a striking position, slowly move away. If you are within about three feet of the snake, you are in immediate danger of a strike. Double that distance, and you should be well out of its striking range.
When suffering from snakebite, quickly move away from the snake and stay calm. The area of the bite may swell dramatically, so remove any tight clothing or jewelry. While nearly a third of snake bites are nonvenomous, “dry” bites, you should keep the victim calm, immobilize and splint the wound, and evacuate immediately (carrying the victim if necessary). Do not use a "Sawyer Extractor" pr other suction device, do not apply cold, do not administer pain killers, do not give alcohol to the victim, and don’t use a tourniquet.
Hike Smart & Have Fun!
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