Why do snakes bite people?

A snake will only bite an animal that is not a food item in an act of self defence. This means that if a person accidentally steps on a snake they may be bitten as the snake will assume it is being attacked. Not surprisingly the majority of snakebites occur when people try to catch or kill them.

Western Rattlesnake - Crotalus Viridis
Western Rattlesnake – Crotalus Viridis

Incidence of snake bite

There are around 8000 snakebites recorded in the USA every year.

Deaths Attributed to Snake bites

On average 12 people die from snakebite in the USA every year. The number of fatalities attributed to snakebite in the USA is relatively low because of the following reasons:

  1. Snakes are shy animals – Snakes will only bite as a last resort
  2. No venom injected – ┬áNot all snakebites result in envenomation
  3. Public education – People generally know to treat snakes with respect
  4. First aid – Development of effective first aid procedure
  5. Medical technology – Development of effective antivenom

It is important to treat all snakebites seriously to prevent complications arising through incorrect identification.