Very few people would call an encounter with a snake pleasant even if it’s just a harmless grass snake. But an encounter with a venomous snake can lead to health problems or even death. Each region of the world has their own venomous species and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to learn more about them. There are also some specific signs that can help you to distinguish whether the snake is venomous or not.
At Bright Side, we’ve decided to share these signs with you along with the pattern of behavior you need to follow in order to avoid dangerous consequences after an encounter with a venomous snake.
How can you identify a venomous snake?
Herpetologists explain specific differences between venomous and non-venomous snakes. However, there are so many species of snakes in the world that there can be certain exceptions. Nevertheless, these are some general differences that you should be aware of.
Non-venomous snakes have round pupils while venomous ones have vertical pupils. However, there are some exceptions: the black mamba (Africa), cobra (Africa, Middle East, Asia) and taipan (Australia) snakes have round pupils.
It’s interesting that some non-venomous snakes can change the shape of their pupils in moments of danger. A mock viper, for instance, can do this.
2. A venomous snake normally has a heat-sensitive pit between its eyes and nostrils to locate warm-blooded prey.
3. Most venomous snakes have a triangular shaped head wider than their necks. Non-venomous snakes’ heads are usually rounded.
4. Venomous snakes usually have a single row of scales at the end of their tails while non-venomous ones have a visible line separating 2 rows of scales at the end of their tails.
5. Venomous snakes often have bright colors and can also hiss, rattle (rattlesnakes) or behave aggressively. The exceptions are scarlet kingsnakes and milk snakes.
6. Vipers and grass snakes look like each other but you can distinguish them by the following signs: a grass snake has a yellow collar around its neck while a viper has a dark zigzagging line down its back.
7. If a snake has a diamond-shaped pattern on its skin or it has 3 colors, it’s usually venomous.
8. Venomous water snakes swim with their entire bodies visible above the water while non-venomous snakes keep their bodies under water.
While being in the countryside, you should remember that snakes can be anywhere and you should take the following precautionary measures:
- Cut tall grass in your yard and remove fallen branches — snakes usually like to hide there.
- Reduce the number of rodents around your country house, they usually attract snakes.
- You can spray a solution of ammonia in the far parts of your yard. Snakes don’t like its smell while ammonia itself isn’t dangerous to them.
- Choose closed-toed shoes while walking in the woods.
- Mountain climbers can be bitten by snakes because they like to hide in rock crevices. You should avoid such surfaces and keep your hands inside.
- Snakes likely never attack first. They only do it if they’re scared. But they become more aggressive during their mating period between June and July. A scared snake injects more poison.
- When walking in the wild, especially in wet, swampy areas, try to avoid tall, thick grass, or at least make noisy sounds beforehand by moving the grass with a stick.
- If you camp out for a night, cover up any sources of light since it attracts snakes. And don’t forget to shake your clothes out in the morning, human smell attracts snakes too.
- Don’t follow snakes out of curiosity. You can provoke a snake to attack you.
What should you do if a snake bites you?
If this happens you must follow these rules to put your health in as little harm as possible.
Here are some of the symptoms you can expect after getting bitten by a venomous snake:
- Examine the bite. 2 close-set puncture marks indicate that the snake has fangs and that it’s venomous.
- The bite is painful, your skin around the bite becomes swollen and pale.
- You have difficulty breathing, nausea, high blood pressure, muscle weakness and/or fever.
Snake venom has different effects on humans. However, if you’ve been bitten by a common viper it probably won’t be fatal if you’re an adult but either way, you need to seek medical attention immediately. The biggest threat from a snake bite is usually connected with allergic reactions to venom which is why you need to have antihistamines in your first-aid kit.
Before an ambulance arrives or you reach the hospital, do the following:
- Examine your skin. If there is some venom outside the wound, remove it carefully to avoid it from getting inside the damaged skin.
- Drink a lot of liquids like water, tea or broth to remove toxins from your body.
- Stay calm and don’t move to avoid venom from spreading inside your body because the faster your heartbeat is, the faster the venom will spread inside your body.
- Make sure your bitten limb stays still.
- Take antihistamines. It’s also okay to take sedatives and cardiac medications.
You must not do the following:
- Cut across the wound to remove venom.
- Apply the tourniquet.
- Cauterize or apply creams to the damaged area.
- Drink alcohol or coffee.
There are different opinions on whether it’s worth sucking the venom out or not. This can make sense only in the first 15 minutes after you’ve been bitten but an untrained person won’t be capable of doing it correctly. However, some experts believe that such actions can remove up to 50% of the venom. It isn’t dangerous for a person providing assistance even if they have small wounds in their mouth.
If the snake died you can carefully (without touching it with your bare hands) put it inside a few plastic bags and send it to be researched.
We hope you found these tips useful and won’t have to apply them in reality.
Have you ever encountered snakes? How did you behave? Tell us in the comments below.
Illustrated by Leonid Khan for BrightSide.me
Oakland teachers strike: Union calls strike for pay, smaller classes
Teacher frustration keeps spreading.
Public school teachers in Oakland, California, said they will strike on Thursday, following 18 months of tense negotiations with district officials over pay raises and classroom sizes.
“We have had it. Enough is enough, bargaining with our school district has not worked,” said Keith Brown, a middle school teacher and president of the Oakland Education Association, during a press conference on Saturday. “Our schools have been starved of resources for years.”
If they don’t reach a deal before Thursday, about 3,000 teachers won’t show up to work in one of the state’s largest school districts, which has struggled from years of budget cuts and poor student performance.
Teachers say the lack of investment in city schools is hurting student performance. The cost of living in Oakland has also skyrocketed in recent years, due to an influx of high-skilled workers unable to afford housing across the bay in San Francisco, making it impossible for teachers to live there on their current salaries, Keith said. Teachers want a pay raise, smaller class sizes, and more counselors and nurses.
The strike in Oakland would come a month after teachers in Los Angeles walked off the job with similar demands — and ended up getting a lot of what they wanted. At the time, LA officials said the same thing Oakland officials are now saying: We just don’t have the money.
Oakland schools are facing a $56 million budget deficit in the next two years, so the school board wants to cut school spending, not increase it. School officials are trying to get more money from the state, but teachers are ready to walk out. And they know they have leverage.
It’s just the latest strike in what’s becoming a national trend. More than 100,000 public school teachers in six states have walked out of class in the past year, rebelling from years of stagnant wages, crumbling infrastructure, and deep budget cuts to education. The strikes in Arizona, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, California, and Colorado had broad public support, forcing state lawmakers to raise pay and fueling a national movement to boost investment in public education.
So far, that momentum shows no signs of slowing down.
Funding for public schools in California is a mess
Oakland teachers share a lot of the same frustrations that led LA teachers to walk out of class in January. They say school districts are spending too much money on privately run charter schools that have little public oversight. They also believe they are paid too little working in a state with much wealth.
California is among states spending the least on each student (adjusted for the cost of living), largely because of the state’s strict limits on property tax rates.
The Oakland Education Association, a labor union representing 3,000 educators, has been trying to negotiate a new contract since the last one expired in 2017. Teachers want a 12 percent pay raise over three years, smaller classes, and more support staff. One school counselor for every 600 students is not conducive to a student’s success, says Keith Brown, the group’s president.
The district has offered a 5 percent raise over three years.
Teachers rejected the offer.
“Unless there are dramatic changes to the district’s approach, including spending more money on students and for nurses and counselors, lower class size, and a living wage that will keep Oakland teachers in the classrooms, we will strike,” Brown said.
The school district has said it is willing to keep negotiating for a better deal to avert the strike, and would consider some recommendations from an independent panel, which found that low teacher pay, large class sizes, and school privatization were hurting Oakland schools. The report also acknowledges the state’s “complicated, flawed” system for funding public education.
“Despite our challenges, we are prepared with a comprehensive proposal to reach an agreement. If both sides are committed to settling the contract before a strike occurs —and we are — an agreement can certainly be reached without disrupting the educational experience for students, families and staff,” Oakland Schools Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said in a statement Saturday.
They have three days to try and reach a deal.
Teachers are leading a national workers revolt
A record number of US workers went on strike or stopped working in 2018 because of labor disputes with employers, according to new data released last week by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. A total of 485,000 employees were involved in major work stoppages last year — the highest number since 1986, when flight attendants, garbage collectors, and steelworkers walked off the job.
Frustrated public school teachers were behind the year’s largest walkouts, but hotel housekeepers and steelworkers also organized strikes that lasted for days.
There are no signs that worker angst has subsided. So far, in 2019, teachers in two major cities have launched their own strikes. And in January, the Los Angeles teachers strike shut down the nation’s second-largest school district for more than a week.
As part of their deal with city officials, teachers agreed to a 6 percent raise and slightly fewer students in each classroom, according to Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, a labor union that represents about 34,000 public school teachers, nurses, librarians, and support staff in the city.
Last week, more than 2,000 teachers in Denver went on strike for three days. The school district ended up giving educators and extra $23 million in pay and agreed to overhaul the compensation system, which relied heavily on annual bonuses.
Now Oakland teachers are prepared to walk out, and Sacramento teachers may follow.
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Kamala Harris’s 2020 presidential campaign: news and updates
The longtime lawmaker announced her candidacy at a rally in Oakland, California, on January 27.
Kamala Harris, a California lawmaker and longtime prosecutor, is running for the Democratic nomination for president. She made her announcement during an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019.
Harris is only the second African-American woman to serve in the Senate, and her entry into the 2020 race is potentially historic: If she secures the nomination, she’d be the first African-American woman and the first Asian-American woman to become a major-party nominee.
The lawmaker has a long record of public service. She served as California attorney general and San Francisco district attorney for a combined 12 years before she was elected to the Senate in 2016, and buzz about her potential presidential run has been building ever since. She’s considered a prominent champion for racial equality, though some have questioned her past approach to criminal justice. She has backed some progressive policies within the Democratic Party, including Medicare-for-all and marijuana legalization.
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