ALERT
We are experiencing high call volumes in response to expanded COVID vaccination scheduling. Please check myChart frequently for openings as we continually manage doses and capacity. Thank you for your patience as we work through calls and questions. Our COVID-19 hotline is 208-381-9500; find additional information here.
toggle mobile menu Menu
toggle search menu

Site Navigation

Supplemental

Menu

Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake

Topic Overview

Rattlesnakes are the most widely known of the pit vipers (family Viperidae). They are found throughout the United States and parts of Canada and account for most poisonous (venomous) snakebites in North America. They leave one, two, or three puncture marks on the skin, but you won't always see any marks.

Rattlesnakes can be up to 8 ft (2.5 m) long and have:

  • Rattles at the end of the tail. Young snakes may only have one rattle or "button," which does not make the rattle sound.
  • Diamond-shaped markings, blotches, or speckles down the back.
  • Pitlike depressions behind the nostrils.
  • A triangular head with slit-shaped pupils and fangs.
  • A single row of plates or scales on the undersurface of the snake, including the tail.

Symptoms of a rattlesnake bite usually appear from minutes to hours after a bite and can include:

  • Severe, immediate pain with rapid swelling.
  • Bruising of the skin.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Changes in heart rate or rhythm.
  • A metallic, rubbery, or minty taste in the mouth.
  • Numbness or tingling around the mouth, tongue, scalp, feet, or the bite area.
  • Swelling in lymph nodes near the bite.
  • Signs of shock.

If you think you have been bitten by a rattlesnake,call 911 or other emergency services immediately.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: June 26, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Sean P. Bush MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine, Envenomation Specialist

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Healthwise is a URAC accredited health web site content provider. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.