Tips & Tricks

The goodr Guide to Trail Safety: Rattlesnakes

By November 24, 2015 April 4th, 2018 No Comments

Trail running is the best kind of running, but it is not without its dangers.  In addition to self-induced dangers like tripping on rocks and failing to properly hydrate (because you only brought 3 beers on that 15 mile trail run), nature has provided a number of different beasties that the mindful trail runner needs to know about.  

Out of the goodrness (ha!) of our hearts , we here at goodr will be posting a series of articles to educate the naive amongst you about best practices to follow when you encounter wildlife on a trail run.  If you follow the helpful information below, we can ensure that you will probably still get yourself into trouble with Mother Nature’s various wonders, but you will be much more educated when you do so.  
As always, enjoy the trails and stay safe out there!

How You Can Identify ‘em: Super easy!  They look like any other snake, except they have a baby rattle attached to their tail.  The Bible tells us that it was Jesus who decided to attach the rattles to the snakes one night after he got particularly drunk on his own blood wine.  Unfortunately, before he could undo this practical joke, the Romans killed him and rattlesnakes were stuck for eternity with the rattles on their tails.  This helps to explain why rattlesnakes are particularly ornery and also closet anti-semites.  If you’re still unsure about how to identify a rattlesnake, just print off this convenient pictorial flowchart from the CDC and carry it with you while on your runs.  Using this resource, you should only have to be about 2 feet away from the snake to identify it.  What could go wrong!

Where You’ll Find ‘em:  These beasts are a product of the Americas, ranging from Southwestern Canada all the way down to Argentina.  Though different types have found niches in a number of ecological areas, they generally enjoy being in open, rocky areas.  Many a trail runner has turned a blind corner on a trail only to get a wicked surprise by stepping on one of these danger noodles.

The Danger of ‘em:  Pointy fangs and venom.  

goodr Advice:  As a general rule, we suggest that you not get bit by a rattlesnake if it’s up to you.  Even though these bites are generally non-life threatening, by all accounts it appears to be a less than pleasant experience and any scars you might receive are unimpressive and will not be useful in attracting members of the opposite sex at bars.  (The exception here is that if they bite you on the neck, you can claim you were bit by a vampire, which is cool.)  

Also, studies show that you cannot charm a rattlesnake by playing Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” on a flute, though our research indicates this method may prove effective on certain species of poison dart frogs.  

Real Life Advice:  If you get bit, you should follow these helpful guidelines from the CDC (our equally helpful notes are in italics):


  • If you or someone you know are bitten, try to see and remember the color and shape of the snake, which can help with treatment of the snake bite.  (Be especially observant of any gang colors a snake might be wearing.)
  • Keep the bitten person still and calm. This can slow down the spread of venom if the snake is poisonous.  (Try singing a Gordon Lightfoot song to them as it is a well known muscle relaxer.)
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Dial 911 or call local Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
  • Apply first aid if you cannot get the person to the hospital right away.
    • Lay or sit the person down with the bite below the level of the heart.
    • Tell him/her to stay calm and still.
    • Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing.


  • Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it (but, I mean, why would you even consider doing something that dumb).
  • Do not apply a tourniquet.
  • Do not slash the wound with a knife (that’s just self-destructive behavior and you are better than that).
  • Do not suck out the venom (anyone who suggests this is just trying to make a move on you and that’s just inappropriate given the circumstances).
  • Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water (this includes Smirnoff Ice).
  • Do not drink alcohol as a pain killer (this also includes Smirnoff Ice).
  • Do not drink caffeinated beverages (this includes Four Loko).

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