[UPDATE 8/16] Rattlesnake Bite Victim Received no Venom, Says Sheriff’s Office

Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

Humboldt County Sheriff badgeOn Monday August 14th, 2017 at approximately 4:30pm the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a female juvenile that was bitten by a Rattlesnake. The juvenile was hiking the Lost Coast south of Petrolia with family members when the bite occurred.

Poor weather conditions prevented a helicopter air rescue. Members of the Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue Team, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Cal Fire, and BLM initiated a rescue effort for the juvenile; however, due to poor communications the exact location of the victim was not immediately known.

It was …reported that the victim was able to hike to the roadway under her own power and obtain a ride to [Jerold] Phelps Hospital in Garberville for treatment.

Fortunately, it was determined that the bite was what is referred to as a “Dry Bite”, in which no venom is delivered during the bite. The juvenile is recovering with no adverse effects.

The Sheriff’s Office would like to advise hikers, hunters, and pet owners that there have been a high number of Rattlesnake sightings this year and to use extra caution when spending time outdoors.

UPDATE 8/16: Cal Fire issued the following press release:

Information: Call was received at 14:22 of a 19 year old female with a rattlesnake bite from a SPOT text notification to a family member who wasn’t at scene and out of the area. She had very little information and didn’t have a location on the SPOT notification. The information given was the hiker was on the Lost Coast Trail heading south towards Spanish Flat area on BLM Kings Range. CAL FIRE launched their helicopter because of nature of injury and location; engines, overhead and CAL FIRE Emergency Command Center also launched City Ambulance, Petrolia, Honeydew and Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue as well as notified USCG. CAL FIRE helicopter flew the Kings Range not only in the area given but the entire area, they even landed and talked with hikers. The reporting party had no additional information nor did hikers in the area. The copter continued the search until they needed to go get fuel at which time the winds had picked up to the point that flying the area was no longer safe and they returned to Kneeland. No one flagged or signaled the helicopter or notified any of the many rescuers in the area. The patient checked into the hospital later that evening. The last unit cleared the search and rescue efforts at 8pm working close to six hours on this incident.

Earlier Chapter: Rescuers Dispatched to Report of 17-Year-Old Female Hiking With Rattlesnake Bite

  • Laytonville Rock


  • There’s no such thing as rattle snakes, it’s just the right wing nuts trying to scare you into staying in your house and watching Fox News.

  • Sure it was a rattle snake ? Bull snakes / gopher snakes look very similar but have a round python looking head not a viper head but do mimic a rattle snake sometimes plus I’ve never heard of one making it to the coast except for one in a load of logs when I worked at eel river sawmills at the chip plant in alton

    • Numerous people have commented about seeing rattlers on the lost coast.
      If you havent been out that way, there are a lot of spots that get hot in the summer. Look at the temps. The coastline weather differs a lot south/north cape mendocino.

      Any snake folks out there, ive always been told not to kill a rattler as if its a male, other males will come in to compete for that home range, bringing more snakes to the area. Is this true?
      Personally i havnt killed the one near my house, its rarely close by and the few times a year it is, i hear it way before i see it. Sounds like a busted water line! I

  • I love what you had to say Guest. I don’t know how to put up those little cartoon figures but if I did It would be one bent over laughing. You rock my man. He He

  • Rattlesane Jake / Bozo the Clone (I am a clone...NOT a clown).

    I have met some VERY large, mean and aggressive gopher snakes in my time. They vibrate their
    tails in dry leaves and sound like a rattler to people who haven’t had the joy of experiencing seeing a rattlesnake or…being bitten by one. The one that bit me was a little newborn rattlesnake on a trail near Branscomb. It did not even have a full button in its tail yet. (I’ve been bitten by gophers, gopher snakes and rattlers, because I was very interested in reptiles and used to catch them and I snatched the furry ones from my cats when they bring them in the house).
    I was trying to remove it from the trail so that rattlesnake haters would not come along and kill it. Rattlers perform a very great service keeping rodent populations in balance.

    With all that said, the main reason for responding to this blog is this: Our local rattlesnakes are not nearly as bad as they are cracked up to be. They mostly (usually) want to get away from humans as fast as possible. Their bite, when venom is injected, will initially hurt just like punctures like when you get bitten by a rose bush or blackberry vine. But then … as the venom takes effect…and swelling begins and the enzymes in the venom start to work on your tissues…WATCH OUT MAMA ! I was bitten on my left index finger and it just felt like I “got stuck” so I turned down pain killers from the doctor at first. She said: “well if you change your mind, just push that button on the wall next to your bed. Somewhere in the middle of the night I awoke with a strange sensation… like why is someone was slamming my hand with a three pound hammer? Push the button! Where is it??!! The guy in the other bed in the hospital room had also been bitten by a rattlesnake, but a MUCH larger one, and he was a much larger man than me. He was given four bottles of antivenin while I got nine (drip feed). You see, the baby snakes are considered to be more dangerous and potent than the adults. The other guy had consumed about two six packs and had then also decided to capture a rattlesnake at the Laytonville Rodeo. Two fools in the same room, wouldn’t ya say?

    Back in the day, the first aid for snake bite consisted of “criss crossing” and opening the wound with a blade, or at least something sharper than that used in the old western movies, and then sucking out the venom. If one did not have something sterile to suck it out with, and you used your mouth, you were then sure to get blood poisoning and sepsis and that is why most people succumbed to rattlesnake bites. Of course, then, as now, if you are allergic to the venom and anaphylactic shock sets in, you can be in serious trouble. So yes, get yourself (or your little girl)
    to the medics. ASAP
    The hospital and ambulance charges turned out to be the most painful for me, having no medical insurance. The next day, a nice bright Sunday morning, I popped open a bottle of champagne, downed some of the pain killers and ….whoopee! I WAS feeling NO pain! (warning: the med bottle said: DO NOT TAKE WITH ALCOHOL!

  • Never heard of ‘dry bites’. Can rattle snakes control whether they inject venom or not?

  • kind of like busting a dry nut!

  • So let’s clear up a few myths.
    1- Rattle snakes are born with their venom sacks fully developed so a baby snake has the same amount as it will have as an adult.
    The reason they are considered to be more toxic/dangerous is because they will empty their entire sack where as an adult will only inject some.
    2- All vipers can just bite (dry bite). This is a worning response that happens when scared. No snake wants to be left defenceless or unable to feed. And that is what happens once they’ve emptied there venom load. It take about 24 hours to refill.
    3- Both our Diamondback and Timber rattlers would like you to leave them alone and will if possible warn you of their presence. If you leave them alone, they will in turn leave you alone. Win win.
    4- Most people that get bit by a rattlesnake are found to have been drinking and were bit by a dead snake. Yes a snake can and will strike after you have killed it. It’s called muscle response.
    So walk around it or go a different route. It’s not likely to bite you if you leave it alone.

    • Ah, the Voice of Reason. Thank you. Small correction: Baby rattlesnakes have baby-sized poison glands, so the amount of poison is considerable smaller. And their fangs are shorter so the bite is less deep.
      But the babies are understandably more paranoid than the older ones, so (in self-defense) they will unload all the toxin they have – assuming they can even control the amount (as the older ones can) in the first place. Thanks again! Everything has a place in the Choir…

  • I worked in pharmacy for many years & not long after I went to work at the hospital, I learned not to ever get bitten by a rattlesnake. If the bite doesn’t kill you, the cost of the antivenin might.

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