Georgia is home to a rich ecosystem that includes 47 snake species. They rarely attack unprovoked, but snakes will certainly defend themselves if they feel threatened by people or pets. With population growth and encroaching development, encounters with snakes are increasing. Whether you witness a snake bite first hand or you notice common symptoms of snake bites in pets, it is important to take quick action.
One of the best defenses against snake bites is the ability to identify various species, their habitat, and behavior. Found throughout Georgia, snakes populate rural regions, as well as local parks and backyards. The more you know about them, the better.
Be mindful of overgrown areas, piles of firewood, or brush piles. Anywhere you might find a snake’s prey (rodents, birds, eggs), you could run across a snake. Stream beds, swampy spots, or small ponds can be prime locations. Additionally, cool, quiet spots like a crawlspace, barn, or storage shed are inviting to snakes.
Pets are highly curious about snakes. Given the chance, they will respond to snake avoidance training methods to guard against a lethal encounter. Venomous snakes in Georgia include:
- Timber rattlesnake
- Pygmy rattlesnake
- Eastern Diamond-backed rattlesnake
- Easter Coral snake
- Florida cottonmouth (also known as the Water Moccasin)
- Eastern cottonmouth
On the Lookout
Snake bites in pets aren’t always obvious. They may not experience excruciating pain, and bite marks can be obscured by a thick coat. Snakes bite symptoms may not appear for a while, in some cases effects are delayed up to 24 hours. What’s worse, even bites that don’t look that bad can have a lethal dose of venom.
Puncture marks may or may not be accompanied by swelling or redness, but if a pet exhibits any of these symptoms, time is of the essence to seek help:
- Lethargy or weakness
- Dilated pupils
- Muscle tremors
- Reduced blinking
- Bleeding from the nose or mouth
- Dark or bloody urine
Even if you are able to recognize the snake as a non-venomous species, it is still a good idea to have your pet seen and treated.
If you do not know if the snake bit is venomous, please err on the side of caution and seek emergency veterinary help immediately. Left untreated, a venomous snake bite can be fatal.
The range of symptoms depend on the species of snake and the amount of venom injected. Even someone with experience can’t know the exact factors at play until we initiate diagnostics.
A swab from the bite site and a urine sample can help us determine whether or not envenomation occurred. Once the snake species is confirmed in a test, anti-venom treatment and other life-saving strategies can be administered.
We’re Here to Help
We know how scary a situation like this can be. Try to stay as calm as possible, seek help immediately, and remove your pet’s collar if they were bitten on the face or head.
If your pet’s lifestyle overlaps significantly with rattlesnakes, the rattlesnake vaccination might be something to consider.