How to Avoid Getting a Snake Bite While Hiking the Foothills
With the Greenbelt under water, I'm finding myself turning to the trails in the Military Reserve and Harrison Hollow as the areas to train in for my fifth marathon. The trails provide beautiful views of the city...but there's a few things up there I'm terrified of!
Thing #1? Falling. I did the most epic "Superman" ever when I hit my toe off a rock coming down Sidewinder last year. That was last July and my knee is still purple almost a year later. Everyone asked why I didn't get stitches. Simple answer - my knee looked like ground beef. There was nothing there to stitch back together. This may be TMI, but the wound was open and draining for about a month before it started to scab over.
Thing #2? Snakes! (And sticks that look like snakes if I'm being honest.) I think the last time I actually saw a snake on a run was three years ago, but some of my friends from Team Run Boise and Final Kick events have seen quite a few in the last week alone! Now, I'll be the first to tell you that most snakes you see in the foothill aren't poisonous, but there are rattlesnakes out there.
Bill Bosworth from Idaho Fish and Game shared these tips with the Idaho Statesman on how to protect yourself from snakes in the Foothills.
Watch Where You're Running/Walking
Bosworth explained that most people that suffer snake bites in the Foothills weren't looking at their feet and accidentally stepped on the snake causing it to strike.
Don't Stick Your Hand Where It Doesn't Belong
Snakes like to hangout in holes or crevices to keep cool. Don't stick your hand in one of those. If you surprise the snake, it might bite you.
This is a lot easier for hikers than it is for us runners, but if you can wear tall boots that reach over your ankles and long/loose fitting pants, it's harder for a snake's bite to penetrate your skin.
Give the Snake Space
When you come up on a snake, let it do it's thing. It's probably looking for food or a mate, not to bite you. If you let it just move along instead of trying to handle it or move it, you automatically reduce the chance of being bitten.
If You Do Get Bitten, Don't Try to DIY
If you are bitten by a snake, don't ice the wound, cut it open or try to suck the venom out yourself. Get to a hospital ASAP and let them do it. Try to get off any jewelry or running watch in case you swell up. Most of the snakes aren't venomous (only the rattlers are), but their bites could cause infections.