It’s that time of the year again, when snakes and bugs are beginning to come back out from winter hiding.
In Virginia, where there are some venomous species of snakes, some homeowners may have questions about which snakes they’re finding in their backyards or crawl spaces.
While asking questions on social media can be helpful, the Virginia Herpetological Society has an entire webpage dedicated to discerning which snakes are harmless and which are venomous.
The website shows photographs and gives information on each type of snake, including where they can be found.
In Virginia, there are three common types of venomous snakes: the Eastern Copperhead, Northern Cottonmouth and Timber Rattlesnake.
All of the snakes can be found in the Hampton Roads area.
The website also lists about two dozen harmless snakes, including the Northern Rough Greensnake, Brown Watersnake and Dekay’s Brownsnake.
About 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes a year in the U.S. Between five and 10 people die, the herpetological society said.
In case of a venomous bite, here are some tips from the Virginia Herpetological Society:
- Get medical help immediately. Call 911. Keep calm.
- Mark the place of the bite, and write the time of the bite on the person using a permanent marker.
- Restrict movement, make a loose splint to restrict movement.
- Keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom.
- Remove rings or constricting items because the bitten area may swell.
- Monitor the person’s vital signs — temperature, pulse, rate of breathing. Look for signs of shock like paleness, lay the person flat, raise the feet about a foot and cover the person with a blanket.
- If swelling occurs, mark the extent of the swelling with a marker, and write the time.
- Apply a bandage, wrapped two to four inches above the bite, to help slow the venom. This should not cut off the flow of blood; the band should be loose enough to slip a finger under it. Once a pressure bandage has been applied, it should not be removed until the patient has reached a medical professional.
When bitten by a venomous snake, do not:
- allow the person to become overexerted. If necessary, carry the person to safety.
- apply a tourniquet.
- apply cold compresses.
- cut into a snake bite with a knife or razor.
- try to suction the venom by mouth.
- give the person stimulants or pain medications unless instructed to do so by a doctor.
- give the person anything by mouth, except water
- raise the site of the bite above the level of the person’s heart.