Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a snakebite victim:
Do not try to catch, handle, or kill snakes. Stay at least a body length away from a snake unless you are certain it is non-venomous. In Tennessee, all of our native venomous snakes are pit vipers and the anti-venon is the same for the copperhead, pygmy rattlesnake, cottonmouth and timber rattlesnake so it is not necessary to bring the snake with you to the ER unless you know it is a non-native venomous species.
Keep your landscape well manicured. Snakes like to hide in thick brush and underneath old boards and debris.
Wear shoes when outside and gloves when weeding.
Wear loose fitting clothes and leather boots when exploring outdoors. Leather boots provide protection for the feet and ankles. Low cut shoes or sandals should never be worn in snake country, especially at night. Rattlesnake fangs can penetrate clothing, and loose fitting clothes are better than tight styles.
Do not jump or step over logs, rocks, or shrubs. Walk around them instead. Be very careful when turning over logs, rocks or other large objects as a snake may be underneath. When hiking, watch where you step, stay on paths or in clearings and avoid tall, grassy areas with heavy underbrush.
Keep hands and feet out of areas you can’t see. Don’t pick up rocks or firewood without looking for snakes first. Develop the habit of watching where you place your feet and hands.
A timber rattlesnake is nestled amongst the leaves along this downed tree where it is likely waiting to ambush a chipmunk or squirrel. Photo by Danny Bryan