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What to Do When You See A Snake: Safety Tips

Encountering a snake is bound to be a scary experience - here are some safety tips on what to do when you see one.

What should you do if you spot a snake?

Short Answer: Snakes will not usually attack unless they are provoked, so it is best to leave them alone

  • It’s recommended to stay calm and quiet once you see the snake 
  • Make sure there is a safe distance between you and the snake 
  • Slowly back away in a manner that does not disturb the snake 
  • The snake will most likely look for an escape route

Understanding Snake Behaviour and Common Types of Snakes

When it comes to snake behaviour, it will largely depend on the breed and type of snake. Since there are over 2000 varieties of snake in the world, each of these snakes will have a different reaction to coming into contact with a human.

Another factor to consider is whether the snake is venomous or not. Although only a small percentage of snakes are venomous, many people feel uneasy or anxious when encountering a snake due to the association with the minority that possess venom.

Some points to consider with snake behaviour are:

Flight or Fight

Typically, when a human enters an area where a snake is present, the snake’s natural response is to flee. This is because the human’s size dominance over the snake triggers the snake’s instinct to protect itself by avoiding the immediate area. As a result, the snake is more likely to defend itself defensively rather than offensively by directly attacking.

However, this behaviour may change depending on the circumstances. If the human corners or intrudes upon the snake, it will feel threatened and have no other option but to defend itself aggressively.

In such situations, the snake may strike at the perceived threat, not necessarily to harm or kill the human, but as a warning with enough force and speed to scare the person and show the snake’s readiness to defend itself.

There are rarer and naturally aggressive or venomous snake varieties such as rattlesnakes, who might attack humans even if they do not see them as a direct threat.

A snake’s behaviour towards humans is influenced not only by its instinctive nature but also by the behaviour displayed around it. If a snake is approached suddenly or in a loud manner, it may perceive it as an attack and defend itself accordingly.

On the other hand, if a snake is approached calmly and with caution, it may respond differently, unsure whether the person is a friend or a foe.

Basic Instinct

Snakes, much like other animals, rely heavily on their instincts when interacting with humans. However, compared to other species, snakes are believed to have limited cognitive abilities and are more likely to react based on their innate behaviours. Venomous snakes like cobras can be especially dangerous due to their aggressive reactions when disturbed.

On the other hand, the behaviour of non-venomous snakes such as boas can vary greatly depending on the situation. Most non-venomous snakes are not naturally aggressive, but there are some breeds that may attack without provocation. Identifying the breed of a non-aggressive snake can help determine if it is safe to approach.

It’s best to keep these factors in mind when interacting with snakes to reduce the risk of harm to both humans and snakes themselves.

How to Stay Safe When Hiking or Exploring Snake-Infested Areas

If you are planning on hiking or exploring snake-infested areas, you will need to take these safety precautions:

Be aware of your surroundings

Always be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for any snakes in the vicinity. Look for their natural habitats such as logs, rocks, and tall grasses.

Carry a first aid kit

Carrying a first aid kit is a necessity in case of a snake bit that could occur at any point. Our SURVIVAL Snake Bite KIT is exactly what you would need to take with you when hiking in snake-infested areas, you can learn more about the kit here.

Stay on designated trails

Stick to designated trails and avoid wandering off into areas with dense vegetation or rocky outcroppings where snakes may be hiding.

Do not provoke snakes

Never attempt to touch or handle a snake, even if you believe it to be non-venomous. This can provoke the snake, and this will increase the chances of someone being bitten.

Wear appropriate clothing

When hiking in snake-infested areas, it’s important to wear long pants and boots that cover your ankles. This will help protect you from snake bites.

Remember, the best defence against snake bites is prevention. By taking these precautions and being aware of your surroundings, you will be able to reduce the risk of a potentially dangerous encounter with a snake.

What to Do When You See A Snake: Do’s and Don’ts

It would make sense to obtain a further understanding on what to do and what not do when you see a snake.

Here is what you should do:

  • Move away slowly and carefully 
  • Try to identify the species of the snake 
  • Keep a safe distance from the snake 
  • Stay calm and still 
  • If you are bitten by one, seek medical attention immediately

Here is what you should not do:

  • Do not run away or panic, as this can startle the snake 
  • Do not try to kill the snake, this is dangerous and unnecessary 
  • Do not attempt to handle the snake or provoke it 
  • Do not pick up a snake even after it is dead, the snake’s reflexes may still be active and it could potentially strike for up to an hour after its death.

These are just some of the important do’s and don’ts that I have mentioned above, there are many others as well.

Tips for Administering First Aid for Snake Bites

As I mentioned earlier, it is essential to carry a first aid kit with you if you are hiking in snake-infested areas, as the contents of the first aid kit could potentially save your life from a venomous snake bite.

Here are some tips for administering first aid for snake bites:

  • Call for emergency services immediately
  • Keep the affected area immobilised and at or below heart level. This can help slow the spread of venom through the body.
  • Remove any jewellery or tight clothing near the bite site
  • Do not cut the bite wound or try to suck out the venom, these methods are ineffective
  • Do not apply ice to the bite, as this may worsen the effects of the venom
  • Monitor the person’s blood pressure, breathing and heart rate
  • Try to remember the shape and the colour of the snake, as this information can help medical professionals determine the appropriate treatment.

Note that the specific treatment for snake bites may vary depending on the type of snake and the severity of the bite.

For more information on what you should do if you have been bitten by a venomous snake, read our article about it here.

You can read our article Learn these Startling Facts About Snake Bites that explains facts about snake bites in depth.

Related Questions

What is the most dangerous snake breed?

The most dangerous and venomous snake breed in the world is the western taipan, as its venom consists of mycotoxins, taipoxin, neurotoxins and procoagulants which cause haemorrhaging in blood and damages muscles as well.

How many species of snake are there?

There are over 3000 species of snake, around 600 are venomous and 200 species can significantly harm or kill a human.


Always make sure to stay calm in the presence of a snake and don’t panic - these two safety tips may save your life.


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