Canada may not have a lot of rattlesnakes, but we do have some—the eastern massasauga in Ontario and the western rattler in Alberta and B.C. And while a rattlesnake’s bite is rarely fatal, it can deliver a dangerous dose of venom to an adult.

If you’re bitten by a rattler, you will initially feel intense pain and may start to suffer from nausea, swelling and difficulty breathing.


  • Don’t panic or run. Exertion or excitement will only cause the poison to spread.

  • Don’t try to catch the snake. It doesn’t matter what kind of rattlesnake it was and they certainly don’t want it at the hospital.

  • Don’t apply tourniquets, ice or electric shock (don’t ask) and don’t try to slice open the wound and suck out the venom.

  • Don’t touch the area or use cleaning agents. You can rinse the bite with clean water if available, but the less agitation of the wound the better.


  • Do remove constrictive jewelry.

  • Do immobilize the bitten limb and keep it lower than heart level.

  • Do get to a hospital as soon as you can (but remain calm). They may treat you with antivenin or simply observe you.

  • Do keep your circulatory system as inactive as possible, which will minimize the damage from the poison.

  • Do hope you are in Canada, land of universal health care, when bitten. A serious snake bite requires $20,000 worth of antivenin to treat.

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