Rattlesnake dangers: how to avoid getting bitten and what to do - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Rattlesnake dangers: how to avoid getting bitten and what to do if you are

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KENNEWICK, WA - It's definitely hiking season, and as the weather warms up, a lot of those critters we don't see during the winter months are also coming out. This includes rattlesnakes, as well as another type of snake seen locally that can be confused for rattlesnakes but are much less dangerous.

Reporter Rex Carlin spoke with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Jason Fidorra to learn what you should do if you see a snake out on a trail, and what to do if you get bit.

When it comes to snake encounters on our local trails, Fidorra says many of those aren't rattlesnakes at all, and the impostor is actually harmless.

"The most commonly mistaken for a rattlesnake is the bull or gopher snake," said Fidorra. "They're very common, that's probably the most common snake that I see in the Tri-Cities area. They're harmless, however...if you were bit, you'd just want to wash that wound site and avoid an infection."

But what if it actually is a rattlesnake?

Fidorra says they aren't trying to attack. If they see you, they're just scared, so backing away from the snake can de-escalate the situation.

"If it does coil up, that's a defensive position," Fidorra explained. "If it feels it can't escape, that's when you might hear it start rattling, and if you continue to approach it and get too close to it, it may strike and that's the last defense method for the snake. It doesn't want to try to bite you."

So you get bit. What do you do?

Fidorra says don't panic, but get to an emergency room as quickly as you can. And whatever you do, he says don't listen to home remedy solutions you might read about on the internet.

"You don't want to apply any kind of medical aid yourself on a rattlesnake bite, other than maybe washing and disinfecting the wound site and getting yourself to an emergency room."