The right way to cope with your concern of snakes

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Editor’s note: Backpacking trips can be scary. In this series, we cover some common hiking phobias (and how to deal with them) so that you can hike safely.

Always considered a villain, snakes are one of the most feared creatures outdoors. No hiker wants find one wrapped next to the stump on which they sit or slide along the path. For many, snakes are terrifying reptiles that should be avoided at all costs.

Why are we so afraid of snakes? Most are harmless: non-toxic (yes, it is toxicNot toxic;; This means that toxins are injected through a biting or stinging species. The number of poisonous species is five to one.

Most outdoor enthusiasts, however, are not interested in taking the time to pause and identify the line that bisects the path in front of them.

“There are evolutionary biologists who say it’s built into our psyche,” says William K. Hayes, professor of biology at Loma Linda University. The fear of snakes is as old as humanity itself, and it evolved at a time when survival of the fittest meant avoiding anything and everything that could do potential harm. This evolutionary fear has been passed on from generation to generation.

Studies have shown that the human brain recognizes and reacts to snake-like shapes and forms faster than other creatures of similar size or color, even in photos. In short, humans will spot a snake in the grass much faster than a frog or a caterpillar.

It’s probably also a learned fear: from childhood, the negative reactions of adults around us to threats like spiders and snakes unconsciously teach us to be afraid. The media also play a role: the reports we read about Snakebites and Near Death Experiences tend to be sensational and overpublished, which leads us to believe that snake encounters are not only a serious but also a common occurrence. However, this is not the case.

In the United States, less than 1 in 37,500 people are bitten by venomous snakes each year, for a total of around 5,000 to 8,000. And of these events, nearly half occur because the victim (usually men who make up 80% of the bite victims) specifically interacted with the snake.

However, our fear of snakes is not entirely unfounded. A venomous snake bite can be extremely serious, especially if you’re on a trail by yourself and don’t have access to emergency aid. The symptoms and side effects that result from a venomous snake bite can cause nasty and permanent damage to joints, kidneys, and even physical disfigurement. Then there is the antidote, which can cost up to $ 10,000 per vial (and most patients will need between 14 and 70 vials).

Fortunately, fewer than five people die from snakebites each year in the United States. In fact, it is so rare that a spider or wasp sting will make you more likely to step in the bucket than a snakebite.

No, snakes don’t deserve to be feared (after all, most only defend themselves on the rare occasion that they fight), but they should be respected. So if you hike or backpack hike in an area with poisonous snakes (which could be almost anywhere in the continental US, but the most concentrated numbers are more likely to be in the southern and southwestern states), learn what species to watch out for need to, and be careful. Don’t sit on a rock without first checking your surroundings. When you see a snake (most are only hitting distance equal to half their body length), keep your distance and wear high-top boots and pants to protect your in areas where venomous species are known to be common Ankles and lower legs.

If you get bitten, don’t waste time trying any of the home remedies to stop the poison. Vacuuming or cutting the wound, using a tourniquet, or shocking the bite mark with a battery will not help relieve your pain or slow the spread of the poison. The only cure for a poisonous snakebite is to go to a hospital and get antidote. So call for help, send a friend to the nearest trailhead, and do whatever you can to get medical care as quickly as possible. Bonus points if you are able to safely capture a photo of the offending snake to help medical professionals identify the species.

Don’t let the fear of snakes stop you from having outdoor adventures. Instead, learn about the reptiles, learn how to identify the most dangerous species for yourself, and be careful when hiking in the warmer months. Remember, nature is her home; They only visit.

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