Cotton Mouth Snake Venom: These guys are equipped with hemotoxic venom. To understand this type of venom that cottonmouth snakes have and how it works, you must first understand a little background on snake venom in general and how it affects the human body. First and foremost, there are two basic categories of snake venom, those being hemotoxic and neurotoxic. These two types of venom have different effects on the human body; here are some of those differences in detail:
- Hemotoxic venom radically attacks blood and tissue cells causing traumatic damage to the area which received the bite. In some cases the after effects are so bad the patient may require skin grafts due totissue degeneration and muscle damage.
Hemotoxic venom works by preventing the body’s blood supply from coagulating, therefore causing bite victims to experience large amounts of blood loss. That blood loss is expelled through internal bleeding of the body’s organs and bleeding from just about every orifice of the human body. With that, there are often reports of bite victims bleeding from their ears, eyes, nose and even fingernails.
Bites received from snakes with hemotoxic venom can
result in loss of a limb as well as permanent tissue and muscle damage even when proper anti-venom is administered.
Furthermore, victims that have been bitten by snakes with hemotoxic venom report the feeling of extreme pain in the area of the bite. I was talking to another reptile enthusiast in Florida once that received a bite from a juvenile cottonmouth and he described the pain as almost unbearable. He received the bite while out boating in on a lake and said, he’d never forget the pain he felt on the way back to the dock to seek medical treatment. He said the wind blowing up against the bite wound was the worst pain he had experienced in his over 40 years on mother earth. Now that’s painful!
Other native snakes with hemotoxic venom are copperheads and pretty much all rattlesnakes (with exception of the Mojave rattlesnake which has neurotoxic venom.)
- Neurotoxic venom is the other category of snake venom. Neurotoxic venom works by attacking the human body’s central nervous system and brain. When the neurotoxic venom attacks the central nervous system it often causes paralysis. With that, bite victims experience a loss of muscle control in their diaphragm and are unable to expand their lung to breath.
Another effect of neurotoxic venom is necrosis. If you’re wondering what the word “necrosis” means, it basically means the killing of tissue cells which leads to skin and muscle tissue literally rotting around the bite wound. That necrosis often leads to amputation. The effects of this neurotoxic venom often has a lasting effect on the body’s extremities’
There are a few native venomous snakes here in the United States with neurotoxic venom like for example the mojave rattlesnake, tiger rattlesnake, southern pacific rattlesnake, canebrake rattlesnake and the coral snake. Throughout the globe, there are many different species of venomous snakes that are equipped with neurotoxic venom and for the most part they’re mainly elapids like cobras, mambas, tiapans etc.
Cottonmouth Snake Bite treatment: Anti-venom serum like CroFab®
(Crotalidae Polyvalent Immune Fab) is administered when treating envenomations from cottonmouth snakes. CroFab is a United States company that manufactures anti-venom for the medical industry. Only a doctor can administer any type of anti-serum, this isn’t something Joe Bob the neighbor can administer like in the case of bee stings with the Epipen.
CroFab is designed to treat snake bites from most US native pit vipers with exceptions of the mojave rattlesnake and Southern Pacific rattlesnake which may need a multi-blend of different anti-venoms to combat the presences of both heomtoxic and neurotoxic venoms.
The good news is roughly half of all bites from venomous snakes turn out to be “dry bites” a dry bite is a basically a bite that doesn’t result in envenomation. You see snakes take their defenses extremely serious and don’t tend to waste venom needlessly, they also rely on that venom for their livelihood needing it to hunting prey items so “dry bites” do have a rhyme and a reason.
The bottom line is take all venomous snake bites extremely serious and seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Your life depends on it.