Venomous Critters

Guess what? The Grand Canyon is inhabited and it pays to know something about possile encounters with some of those residents – rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, scorpions, centipedes, and spiders.  Hardly anyone is bothered by them and they should not/will not keep me from visiting the canyon. Children, elderly, the sick and alcoholics are most affected by venom, and a lot also depends on the amount of venom injected. Here are some critter facts and advice:

Rattlesnakes; wear protective clothing and footwear, only put your hands and feet in places where you can see clearly, use a flashlight at night. If you hear a rattle freeze, locate and move away. Treatment depends on how soon medical attention is available – you can do more harm than good by cutting and trying to remove venom. Out of 6-7000 bites each year only 10 die. If help is available soon just keep quiet, with the affected part lower than heart, and stay calm (few die).

Rear fanged snakes – compared in seriousness to a bee sting. They are very small snakes.

Gila monster – one of two poisonous lizards in the world. They are rare in the canyon (3 recorded observations in the western canyon) normally slow and unaggressive, but if disturbed will hiss savagely and quickly lunge. They have a neurotoxic venom. Death is possible but unlikely for a healthy adult. Essential to pry lizard’s jaws loose as soon as possible. (ha, like I wouldn’t have thought of that…)

Spiders – Black widow, big abdomen with red hourglass. To avoid being bitten, keep your hands out of cool, dark, undisturbed places. The bite is painful and potentially lethal but death from this bite is rare in healthy adults. Children are more in danger. Keep quiet, apply ice, no other useful measures.

Tarantula – painful bite but no more dangerous than bee sting. Don’t kill them. They have a web lined burrow and come out to hunt mostly at night. (Females can live 20 years!) (If you don’t kill them!)

Scorpions – more than six species found in canyon and only one is potentially lethal to humans. Others cause pain and redness at bite but nothing else. The bark scorpion or slender scorpion is the dangerous one. Uniform yellow straw colored ½ to 3 inches long, no more than 1/8 inch wide in body. Tail and pincers are noticeably slender, tail has oblong segments, small barb or tooth at base of stinger. Venom is neurotoxic and causes numbness and tingling which advances up body – this is a medical emergency. Watch where you place your bare hands and feet, shake out shoes and clothing. Don’t leave bedding on the ground and shake it out at night.

For pictures of a rattlesnake and scorpion click here. 

Bees, wasps, velvet ants, blood sucking, kissing (or assassin) bug, all produce only local pain and swelling.

Cactus spines are a real possibility – don’t touch or brush up against them. Pain and possible infection if not removed. I’m taking tweezers.

6 thoughts on “Venomous Critters

  1. Whoah, nice creatures 😉

    See, that’s why I like to just pull out at vista points and not go to the dangerous places, haha. I don’t even want to go to that Skywalk because I don’t handle heights too well.

    A coworker of mine keeps rattlesnakes at home. One day he wanted to be a birthing buddy and “help” a mama-to-be. She didn’t think it was a good idea and bit him in the finger. He raced to the hospital and had to explain himself to a dozen doctors and nurses until they finally gave him the antidote. His finger was swollen for several days, and for a while there was the possibility that he would actually have to amputate it. He’s fine now.

    Happy Friday!

    • The Skywalk is very freaky. I’ve heard that some people get pretty paralyzed when they look down and have to be helped off. I give cliff edges lots of space, and I love guard rails. Lol.

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