When hunting, fishing, hiking or engaging in other outdoor sports, the opportunity arises for us to observe and be near wild animals. These can be great experiences; however, along with those experiences comes the inherent risk that we may get a little too close to those wild animals.
This risk should by no means discourage us from venturing into the outdoors. It should, however, compel those who love the outdoors to learn what to do in the case that they do have a run-in with a wild animal.
Below, we discuss the ways to handle bites from snakes, raccoons and bats:
While most snakes are not venomous, a few of those living in the U.S. are, including:
- Cottonmouths/Water Moccasins
- Coral Snakes
Because it’s often difficult to tell if a snake that’s bitten someone is venomous, it’s important to seek medical care immediately. Be especially cautious when hiking with young children, as any amount of snake venom can be life threatening.
In the meantime, according to the National Institutes of Health, you should:
- Keep the victim calm
- Remove restrictive clothing or other items from the area that was bitten, as it may swell
- If you have a pump suction device on hand, follow the manufacturer’s instructions
- If the person shows signs of shock – such as paleness – lay the person down flat with feet slightly raised, and cover him/her with a blanket
What not to do if bitten by a snake:
- Allow the victim to become over-exerted
- Apply a tourniquet
- Apply cold compresses
- Suck out the venom
- Cut into the bite
- Give the person anything by mouth
- Raise the site of the bite above the level of the person’s heart
While currently, snakebite victims will typically require treatment in the form of an injection, recent research has begun to pave the way for an antidote in the form of a nasal spray, according to NBC News.
Raccoons not only carry diseases such as rabies, but they also can cause serious injuries with bites or scratches. According to The Humane Society of the United States, signs of rabies in animals include erratic movements, obliviousness to nearby noise or movement and staggering. If you are attacked by a raccoon – whether it exhibits these particular traits or not – seek medical attention immediately.
As far as prevention goes, you can stave off raccoons’ presence altogether by keeping your campsite or other outdoor recreation area free from trash and food that’d be accessible to raccoons.
Cases of rabies in humans are few and far between, but in the rare instance that a transmission of the viral disease occurs, bats are often the culprit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bat bites are often very hard to detect; they tend to be very difficult to recognize and they heal very quickly. So in the case that you come into contact with bats at all, you must seek medical attention, whether you think you’ve been bitten or not.
If possible, safely capture the bat in question for testing. While wearing leather work gloves, trap the bat under a box and then slide cardboard over the opening to create an enclosure. Tape the cardboard “lid” down, and punch a few small holes in the box to let in air. Then transport the creature to a facility in your area that can test for rabies. See the graphic below for an illustration of this process:
After the bat is captured, seek attention from a medical professional immediately.
Be safe out there!