All snake bites require medical attention, even if the snake is nonvenomous. Proper wound care can help prevent infection and limit how severe the injury becomes.

Snake bites are not common in the United States, where they are very rarely fatal. Not all species of snake are venomous. Knowing which snake has bitten a person will help with treatment.

The injuries that snake bites can cause range from mild to severe, but the chance of dying from one in the U.S. is virtually zero. People can usually survive venomous snake bites if they seek immediate medical attention.

It is vital never to assume that a snake is nonvenomous without first consulting an expert. The misclassification of snake species could be fatal.

In this article, we discuss snake bite symptoms and explain how to identify venomous and nonvenomous snakes in the U.S. We also cover treatment and first aid for snake bites.

Fast Facts:

  • About 7,000–8,000 people get venomous snake bites in the U.S. each year, but only five of them die as a result.
  • All venomous snakes in North America are either pit vipers or coral snakes. The vast majority of venomous bites are from pit vipers, and 50 percent of these are from rattlesnakes.
  • Snakes will not bite humans unless they feel threatened, so leaving them alone is the best strategy for preventing a bite.
  • Dead snakes can still bite, so avoid handling any snake in the wild.
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