Skip to main content
Home » Outdoor Recreation » 4 Tips for Avoiding Venomous Snakes on a Hike
Outdoor Recreation

4 Tips for Avoiding Venomous Snakes on a Hike

Photo: Courtesy of Marek Piwnicki

Yasmine Harding, MS, CHES

Director, Public Education and Communications, American Association of Poison Control Centers

Each year, poison control centers receive thousands of calls about snakebites. Here’s what you should do if you get bitten by a snake.

Snakes often hide in places where they are not readily visible to humans and pets, such as tall grass, piles of leaves, and under rocks. Thus, hiking areas can make the ideal hiding places for venomous snakes found throughout the United States.

Consider the following precautions before your next hike:

1. Wear protective clothing

Wear long pants and protective shoes such as high, thick leather boots.

2. Bring a friend

It is safer to hike with another person in case you are bitten or have another emergency. If you must go alone, bring a fully charged phone and hike in an area where your phone gets a signal.

3. Avoid surprise encounters

Snakes like to hide, so stay away from tall grass, piles of leaves, and rocks when possible. If you have to hike through tall grass or weeds, use a long stick to poke at the ground in front of you to scare snakes away.

4. Never touch or handle a snake

Recently killed snakes may still bite by reflex. Even if you think it is dead or nonvenomous, NEVER touch a snake.

Additional tips

  • Apply insect repellent: Carefully read product labels when choosing a bug repellent. Products containing DEET are proven to repel both mosquitoes and ticks. DEET concentrates of up to 30 percent are safe for use on children 2 months and older. Follow application instructions carefully and only use repellent that is meant to be used on skin.
  • Avoid contact with toxic plants: Although poison ivy commonly grows in green leaves of three, throughout the year it can appear in other colors such as red. Simply put, “leaves of three, leave them be.” Edible mushrooms and berries can also look similar to various toxic species. If you are hiking with children, teach them not to eat mushrooms or berries growing outside.
Next article