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Pet Owners beware! Baby Rattlers pack a powerful bite

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While you would never want your pet to be bitten by a rattlesnake, if it happens they may be better off from the bite of an adult snake than a baby snake. Adult snakes can control their venom better than a baby and 25 percent of the time, they perform a dry rather than a venom-filled bite. In fact, they typically release all their venom causing your pet to get the full load of poison.

This is the time of year to be particularly careful since baby rattlesnakes are generally born in August and September. Rattlesnakes are born (not hatched) in groups of 3-18 ranging in size from 8 – 13 inches. Even more dangerous is their inability to warn you of attack since it is at about one month the baby rattler has its first shed and the second segment of tail appears allowing them to make a buzzing noise, somewhat like a cicada.

Pets are commonly bitten on the tongue which causes severe swelling and potential suffocation or to the face and body where toxins are quickly absorbed into the blood stream. The necrotoxin has been found to cause the capillary blood vessels to break down, causing severe bleeding into the tissues. The toxin also commonly affects the ability of the blood to clot. Both of these factors add to the shocky condition of the patient.

Home remedies are counterproductive. When a pet is bitten by a snake it should be taken immediately to a veterinarian.

Treatment is based on aggressive fluid therapy, monitoring for blood changes, and treatment with antivenin, which will neutralize the toxin preventing further damage to the tissues and minimizing blood loss.

Animal Health Services 24/7 Pet Urgent Care Center keeps a supply of antivenin for rattlesnake bite emergencies. Urgent & Critical Care Director, Dr. Signe Plunkett has over two decades of experience treating snake bites.

Whether it is a baby snake or an adult snake, all snake bites should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Animal Health Services is located at 37555 N. Cave Creek Rd. in Cave Creek. Call 480-488-6181 or email