Snakes of GA and SC Brochure
In Case of Snakebite

Snakebites from native species are a rarity in both South Carolina and Georgia. However, a few bites still occur every year. The proper response to a venomous snakebite involves both what to do and what not to do. Before snakebite treatment is necessary, the snake must be venomous. You can become familiar with the snakes of the region by studying the pictures and descriptions in this brochure. If you can be sure that a non-venomous (harmless) snake did the biting, you have little to worry about. Washing the scratched area with soap and water is usually sufficient. However, a venomous snakebite can be very serious. The following is a list of what to do and not to do if bitten by a venomous snake:

pigmy rattlesnake
The DONT's
  • Do not eat or drink anything, including alcoholic beverages or medicine.
  • Do not run or engage in strenuous physical activity.
  • Do not cut into or incise bite marks with a blade.
  • Do not apply a constrictive tourniquet.
  • Do not use a stun gun or other electrical shock.
  • Do not freeze or apply extreme cold to the area of the bite.
Pigmy rattlesnake
canebrake rattlesnake
The DO's
  • Try to stay calm!
  • Keep the bitten body part below heart level and remove rings, watches, and tight clothing.
  • Try to identify the offending snake if you can do so easily without putting yourself at risk or wasting valuable time.
  • Get to the nearest hospital or emergency medical facility immediately.
The universally accepted treatment for serious snakebite is the use of antivenin or snakebite serum, which should only be administered by a medical doctor. If local doctors are unsure of the correct antivenin to use, advise them to contact the American Association of Poison Control Centers (1-800-222-1222).
Canebrake rattlesnake
car keys

Medical doctors who have experience with bites of venomous snakes of the United States do not completely agree on the details of first-aid treatment for snakebites. However, most doctors believe that the DOs and DON’Ts listed here have the highest probability of success in most situations involving venomous snakebites.

The best advice is to learn all of the snakes found in your region and avoid the venomous ones. If you are bitten by a venomous snake, remember to stay calm and get to the nearest hospital quickly.

Field herpetologists consider car keys (and a car) to be the best snakebite kit.
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next page--non-venomous snakes
all photos by David E. Scott, SREL