Snakebite: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/4/2020

A snakebite can occur from a poisonous (venomous) or non-venomous snake. There are about 20,000-100,000 snakebite deaths per year in the world. North America has about 25 species of poisonous snakes able to secrete venom. The most common venomous snakes in the U.S. are rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths/water moccasins, and coral snakes. The bites of nonpoisonous snakes are "dry" because the snakes cannot secrete venom.

Signs and symptoms of snakebite include pain in the affected area. Even nonpoisonous snake bites can cause local inflammation, redness, and may become infected. Other symptoms and signs associated with poisonous snakebites include

Cause of snakebites

Snakes typically only bite in self-defense.

Other snakebite symptoms and signs

  • Fast Heart Rate or Changes in Heart Rate
  • Local Inflammation
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Numbness or Tingling
  • Redness
  • Severe Burning Pain
  • Swelling That Spreads Away From the Bite
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Weakness


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.