The focus of many news reports in Minnesota today have been on a recent snake bite that happened in the blufflands of southeastern Minnesota. A young man was hiking on a trail in Beaver Creek State Park when he was bitten by a Timber rattlesnake – a poisonous snake. He was rushed to a nearby hospital and is, thankfully, listed in fair condition.
As an avid hiker myself, my initial reaction was worry, so I decided to do a little research. I’ve come across my fair share of garter snakes during my adventures, but that’s about it. After a little bit of digging I was happy to learn that there are only 2 poisonous snakes in Minnesota – the Timber rattlesnake and the Massasaugua (another type of rattlesnake). I was further relieved to learn that the last reported rattler bite in Minnesota was in 2000 and involved a man who was trying to photograph the snake and made a sudden movement. After a few days in the hospital, he recovered.
While you are unlikely to come across a venomous snake while out for a walk or a hike in Minnesota, here are a few safety tips to consider before your next adventure:
Avoiding a snake bite:
– Stick to the trails and avoid tall grass
– Protect your lower extremities – wear boots or at least shoes and loose, long pants
– Never handle a snake – even if you think it is dead, as dead snakes can reflexively bite for up to an hour after death
– Learn to identify poisonous snakes
– Don’t stick your hand in a dark crevasse or hole – use a stick if you need to retrieve something
– Get away from the snake
– Call 911 immediately – don’t wait for pain; it’s helpful if you can tell them what the snake looked like
– Wash the bite with soap and warm water
– Do not elevate — keep it lower than your heart
– Immobilize the bitten area
With these suggestions in mind, get out and safely enjoy the rest of the warm summer weather here in Minnesota.
Think about it.