Rattlesnakes are well known for their rattle which is basically a set of desiccated scales that produces a brash rattling sound once the snake shakes it as a way to scare off predators. All species of rattlesnakes are included in the pit viper family which has the neurotoxic venom. In some cases, adult rattlesnake bites do not have venom which is called a dry bite. On the other hand, a bite from a baby rattlesnake is considered even more dangerous.
How the neurotoxic venom works on other mammals
The neurotoxic venom of rattlesnakes is specifically designed to target the nervous system of animals specifically the central aspect, which can sometimes lead to occurrence of seizures and death. The neurotoxic venom is introduced into the mammal through fangs and with a fast strike. Take note that the venom helps the snake digest the prey while at the same time paralyzing and stopping the heart or respiratory system of the animal.
Effects of rattlesnake venom on humans
Small mammals that rattlesnakes prey on are quickly killed by the venom. Due to the bigger size of humans, the rattlesnake venom is not strong enough to cause cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest. On the other hand, young children with a weakened immune system can suffer a stronger reaction to the bite. The neurotoxic venom typically causes swelling, paralysis and numbness at the site of the bite since it interferes with the transmission of nerve signals through the body close at the bite site. This will eventually lead to tissue damage and gangrene at the affected area.
Cases of fatalities to rattlesnake venom
The highest population of venomous snakes is the pit vipers which includes water moccasins and rattlesnakes. Only a small percentage of individuals have died due to a bite from these snakes.
Take note that young rattlesnakes are considered more life-threatening than the adult rattlesnakes since they possess the equal quantity of strong venom, but lack control on the amount that they deliver in each bite. Adult rattlesnakes can still deliver a bite without injecting venom. As for juvenile or baby rattlesnakes, they are more likely to deliver a maximum dose in a single bite.
Treatment of rattlesnake bites using antivenin
The antidote to a snake bite is antivenin. This is usually made out of the venom of a particular snake. The venom is injected into horses that possess natural immunity to the venom. The antibodies produced by the horses are used to make the antivenin which is readily available in areas where rattlesnakes live.
The antivenin is polyvalent which simply indicates that it can be utilized for all species of pit viper. This is considered unique since the antivenin for other species of snake are specific to the exact species. Obviously, this makes it difficult to seek treatment if the snake that delivered a bite is unknown.
While on the way to a doctor or hospital, it is still important to perform the appropriate first aid measures on the bite site to prevent further complications.