Top Tips to Treat Rattlesnake Bite Effectively

Updated on January 30th, 2020
how to treat a rattlesnake bite

Rattlesnakes belong to the venomous family of snakes, that are native to America and Canada, though they can be found in other countries as well. Rattlesnake bites are common, mostly because this family of snakes can survive in any environment where their prey thrives, such as small mammals, birds, etc.

According to research(1), over 9000 people in the United States are bitten by a rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes make a rattling sound, which is a sign for predators to stay away. If further threatened, a rattlesnake will bite, resulting in fatal consequences.

Every state in the United States has a poisonous species of rattlesnake, except Hawaii and Alaska, thus raising the probability of getting bitten.

Common Symptoms of a Rattlesnake Bite

Rattlesnake bites are common among snake handlers, hikers, or anyone who lives near a forest where rattlesnakes thrive.

A rattlesnake bite leaves two puncture marks where the snake fang pierces your skin. You might feel pain, burning, or a tingling sensation on the bitten area.

The bite can also cause swelling, bruising, or discoloration. Some other symptoms of rattlesnake bites include sweating, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, and lightheadedness.

How to Treat a Rattlesnake Bite

To ensure a rattlesnake bite doesn’t harm you, you need to take an antivenom within two hours of being bitten. But, till you get the antivenom, there are certain things you can do to prevent the venom from spreading. Here are some immediate rattlesnake bite treatments you can administer.

1. Don’t Cover the Area

Allowing the wound to bleed, this will allow some venom to be released. Covering the wound with a cloth will trap the venom inside, which will circulate more quickly through the bloodstream.

2. Get Rid of Constricting Clothing

Most rattlesnake bites are venomous, and the bitten area will start swelling soon. Before this happens, make sure to remove any clothes or jewelry to prevent it from cutting into your skin.

3. Stay Still

Try to avoid movement and sit as still as possible, since even the smallest of movements can increase your blood circulation, thus helping the venom spread faster.

Also, you need to remain calm and not panic, since this will quicken your heart rate and the poisonous blood will spread faster through your body.

4. Don’t Wash the Area

Not all rattlesnakes release the same kind of venom, so let the wound be as is, which will help a medical professional identify the type of venom easily. Alternatively, ask the person accompanying you to take a photo of the snake, if possible, so that the venom can be identified by the species.

5. Use a Clean Bandage

If the wound needs to be covered, make sure you use a clean bandage so as to avoid infection. Do not cut the wound in any way, since this can also increase your chances of an infection.

6. Keep Your Wound Below Heart Level

Raising your wound above the heart level will allow the venomous blood to reach the heart faster. Keep the infected area as straight as possible.

7. Avoid Caffeine

Don’t consume anything with caffeine or alcohol in it since it will help spread the venom faster.

8. Don’t Suck the Venom Out

It’s a myth that sucking will remove the venom will remove it from your blood. Instead, doing so will spread the bacteria in your mouth to the wound, and the bacteria in the wound will also go in your mouth.

Did You Know?

The size of a rattlesnake can be anywhere between 3 feet to 8 feet, depending on the species.

CURE 1: Herbs and Foods

Once you have taken the antivenom, the risk of death by rattlesnake bite is gone, but you still need to be careful since the venomous snakebites have lingering health effects. Here are some effective natural ways to treat rattlesnake bite and relieve its symptoms.

1. Echinacea

Echinacea benefits

Why use?

Echinacea has a lot of health benefits since it is a powerful immunity booster and has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Echinacea regulates T cell function, which improves immunity.

How to use?

Echinacea root is available in powder form, which can be taken with water. If you have taken an antivenom, check with your doctor before consuming echinacea.

How much to use?

The recommended dosage is one spoonful of echinacea powder a day, but follow the suggested dose prescribed on the packaging.

2. Turmeric

Why use?

Another powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, turmeric can help to relieve rattlesnake bite symptoms. Turmeric can also speed up your recovery time from months to weeks.

How to use?

Use turmeric to add flavor to your curry or salad. You can also add it to a glass of milk or water and drink it on an empty stomach.

How much to use?

Try to include a spoon of turmeric in your daily diet.

[Also Read: Benefits of Turmeric]

3. Coconut Oil

Use Coconut Oil

Why use?

Apart from being a natural moisturiser, coconut oil fights virus and bacteria, which helps heal wounds. According to research by Skin Pharmacology and Physiology(2), virgin coconut oil can heal wounds quickly when used topically. Thus, the oil can also help to treat rattlesnake bite.

How to use?

Apply a few drops of coconut oil on the wounded area and massage gently.

How much to use?

Use coconut oil every day to relieve pain and improve healing.

[Read: Benefits of Coconut Oil]

4. Ginger

Why use?

Ginger boosts your immune system and also breaks down the toxins in your body, which accelerates healing. Ginger also has antibacterial properties that can help to treat rattlesnake bite.

How to use?

Taking ginger tea can give you the required dose of ginger.

How much to use?

Try to take a root of ginger in your diet every day.

5. Capsaicin


Why use?

This compound is found in peppers commonly and is a natural immunity booster. It also helps relieve pain and stiffness.

How to use?

It is available in cream form and can be applied topically. You can also consume peppers daily to get this ingredient in your system.

How much to use?

Apply capsaicin cream three times a day for effective results.

A species of rattlesnake, Crotalus catalinensis, is rattle-free, that is it doesn’t make a rattling sound and is native to Isla Santa Catalina in Southern America.

CURE 2: Essential Oils

Essential oils have potent health benefits and also work as pain relievers. Essential oils can also be used to treat rattlesnake bites and associated symptoms. Below are five top essential oils for rattlesnake bites.

1. Lavender Oil

Lavender Oil benefits

Why use?

Lavender oil is popularly used to calm your mind and muscles. Experiencing panic after a snake bite is common, and lavender oil can help to stay calm. Increased heart rate will spread the venom faster, so staying calm is essential when bitten.

How to use?

Dab a few drops of lavender oil behind your ears or smell it directly.

How much to use?

Take small whiffs of lavender oil till you start feeling calm.

[Read: Excellent Lavender Oil Benefits]

2. Tea Tree Oil

Why use?

Tea tree oil is a natural astringent and can prevent infection. Use some tea tree oil to clean the area around the rattlesnake bite.

How to use?

Add a few drops of the oil on a clean pad of cotton and clean the bite area with the cotton.

How much to use?

1-2 drops of the oil can sufficiently clean the area. It is advised not to clean the wound to help identify the type of venom, so apply the oil only after the venom is identified.

[Read: Tea Tree Oil Benefits]

3. Lemon Oil

Lemon Essential Oil
Image: Shutter stock

Why use?

Lemon oil is one of the only essential oils that can kill bacteria. The oil can also be used to topically clean wounds and kill bacteria.

How to use?

Take a few drops of lemon oil on a cotton ball and use it to clean the bite area.

How much to use?

You can safely use 3-4 drops of lemon oil to treat rattlesnake bite.

4. Clove Bud Oil

Why use?

Clove bud is the most potent antibacterial and antifungal essential oil. The oil can be used for immediate rattlesnake bite treatment, or it can help to curb the symptoms of rattlesnake bite after taking an anti-venom.

How to use?

Apply clove bud oil on the wounded area to clean the infected area. For aftercare, add a few drops of clove bud oil to a carrier oil or moisturizer and apply it topically.

How much to use?

You can use 2-3 drops of clove bud oil to clean the bite area.

Rattlesnake bites are very rarely fatal, since they are so common, and can be treated effectively with antivenins.

Tips to Prevent Rattlesnake Bite

Accidentally stepping on a rattlesnake or coming too close to the snake can cause a rattlesnake bite.

With a rattlesnake, your best warning is the rattling sound a rattlesnake makes when it feels threatened.

Apart from keeping an ear out for such a rattling sound, following the below precautions will help prevent you from being bitten.

  • Wear thick boots and full pants to prevent the rattlesnake venom from going in your body. When you are hiking or going to an area where you can’t see the ground clearly, hiking boots can provide a layer of protection.
  • Hiking trails don’t have as many bushes and undergrowths as densely forested areas, so make sure to keep on a trail when hiking in a forest or an area where rattlesnakes are common.
  • Rattlesnakes are camouflaged and difficult to see, so be careful and check before picking up a stick or stone. If disturbed, a rattlesnake can attack very quickly.
  • Disturbing or irritating snakes is the fastest way to have them attack you. If you see a snake, leave it alone, and it might just go on its way. A rattlesnake will bite if its territory is invaded or if you touch it.
  • Don’t hike alone, instead, take someone along who can help if you are bitten. This person can also help to identify the snake, which can help get you the right antivenom in time.
The venom in every rattlesnake varies in enzymes and other compounds, even in the rattlesnakes of the same species.

Bottom Line

There are more than 30 species of rattlesnakes today, with all of them carrying a poisonous venom. It has also been recently observed that the severity of symptoms of rattlesnake bite has increased.

Many bitten individuals became very ill and took months rather than weeks to recover. According to the Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine(3), rattlesnake bite has been associated with the risk of a stroke.

So, if you suspect that you have been bitten, perform immediate care to reduce the effects of venom and see a medical professional. When treated immediately, the injured person can make a full recovery with very little to no side-effects.


1. Can You Survive a Rattlesnake Bite Without Treatment?

A rattlesnake bite is not always fatal. The consequences of a rattlesnake bite vary depending on how poisonous the species is. But, if left untreated, the bite can cause severe medical problems or could result in death.

2. How Long Does It Take to Die from a Rattlesnake Bite?

According to Wikipedia, most death due to rattlesnake bites can occur between 6 to 48 hours of being bitten. If antivenom is given within two hours, the chances of recovery are more than 98%.

3. What to Do for a Rattlesnake Bite?

When you are bitten by a rattlesnake, sit down and rest till you get an antivenom. Also, ensure that you keep the wound below heart level, if possible.

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