Journal Articles


There are lots of sites that say that shock treatment for venomous bites is ineffective and dangerous.

Member R.H.-

This "Technique" has been tossed around since the early 70's. It came into being at the same time as the "freeze a bite" technique. There is a tremendous amount of research that has been conducted on it and to date there is no peer reviewed proof of any positive effect. What the people who claim this works have often failed to recognize is that a poisonous snake only envenomates a small percentage of the times it bites defensively. In rattlesnakes that number is around 10% and some researchers claim the number is more like 2%. That means that Aunt Nellies underwear will cure around 90% of the bites.

Sometimes folks think that because there is swelling, there is envenomation. Not true. Those fangs carry a variety of foreign proteins that cause swelling and other effects. Those proteins are rapidly denatured by our bodies natural defenses. Again Aunt Nellies underwear to the rescue.

If the electrical system worked, after all these years the ER's would be using them, every military team would carry one and there would be no more fear of toxic snakes. FWIW I worked with Dr. Finley E. Russell at USC's poisonous snake research lab. Dr Russell claimed that the first recorded use of high voltage on a bite was with a Ford Model "T" spark coil in the 1920's. After they used the shocker, they used the underwear and the bite cleared up. Incidentally, Dr. Russell is cited below.

There are a lot of people who believe in this but to date there is no reliable proof that it has any effect at all. For this reason the topic is only of value for discussion reasons and certainly not a recommendation. In fact I'd need to recommend against it and I have a lot of real science behind that… oh yeah and about 25 years of experience with poisonous snakes.

Here is a small excerpt from the Journal of wilderness Medicine.

Journal of Wilderness Medicine: Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 48–53.

The effect of an electrical current on snake venom toxicity

Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Surgery, Section of Surgical Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA

Department of Veterinary Science and Toxicology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Surgery, Section of Surgical Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA

An electric current (twenty 11 A, 7000 V spikes s−1 for 90 s) from a commercial stun gun was applied directly to a rattlesnake venom solution in an electrolysis cell with 2 electrode compartments and a central compartment, in order to evaluate the effect that high voltage electroshock might have on the lethality of the venom. The venom was electroshocked for 18 times longer than recommended by stun gun manufacturers. There was no measurable inactivation of the venom using LD50 determinations in mice. A venom sample was electrolyzed at a voltage lower than that from the stun gun, but with 4–5 times the total charge delivered from the stun gun. This inactivated the venom at the electrodes, but not within the central compartment, demonstrating that there was no direct effect of the electric field on the activity of the snake venom.

Incidentally, No one in the scientific community can stop another person from publishing unless the research itself is faulty and it does not pass peer review. This is not a charged issue with national security overtones. In fact if this worked there is a great deal of money to be made and the so called proponents of antivenin would simply shift gears to make the new devices. To suggest that there is a conspiracy to cover this up is simply a strawman argument used to obfuscate the truth that there was no publication because the research sucked.

Finally, pigs are poor substitutes for humans. Pigs regularly eat rattlers and have no side effects. In my months in the jungle I watched pigs eat many poisonous snakes while being bitten.


Member R.H. -

I used to run the University classes in an area filled with rattlers. Over the 20 years or so that I hiked in the area I've been struck a number of times. Always on the lower leg where I had heavy pants and doubled over thick knee high socks. The fangs never penetrated to the skin and the socks were never wet with venom. The snake always died. This was true until one day when I brought some students into a cave to look at Indian petroglyph's. I moved far back into the cave to make room and sat on some brush. A rattler bit me on my [butt]. It hurt like hell.

I know all the old jokes… When it happens it isn't funny.

Due to the circumstances it was not worth trying to send anyone out for help (late in the day). Constrictors were not possible on an [butt] cheek so I just waited it out. I had a swelling in that cheek within a few minutes, after an hour it like I'd been kicked by a mule and I felt like [crap], I took two Benedryl, at two hours the headache went away and the pain went down. I went to bed on my firebed. In the morning I had a big bruise and two small puncture wounds. I finished off the trip and a day later went to my doctor for a tetanus shot.

If I'd stuck a battery on my [butt] things would have turned out the same way.


Member A.H. -

What I would like to see, is more studies done with squirrels. they are naturally immune to rattlesnake venom.


Member J.Z. -

I get stung almost daily from April through September (and even today too) I've tried a barbecue ignitor and a bird dog shocking collar to try dissuade the swelling effects and the pain, and it really hasn't worked on me I would be happy to try any suggestions as long as it wasn't too extreme. I'm no Johnny Knoxville

On the note with snake bites. I work with snakes very frequently and am an avid herper. Most herpetologist are aware of the idea of the shock therapy, but few have tried it when the SHTF. Depending on the snake, many go without treatment.
Please be careful about the use of antivenom if you get bit by a venomous snake. Hospitals will try and try to put that in you, but you can only take it once. If you get bit by a copperhead, and you are not hyper allergic, chances are you will come out just fine. They will try and force the anti venom down your throat, but if you know your blood work, refuse it. If you waste anti venom on something with a low LD50 like a copperhead, and then get bit by a timber rattlesnake later, you are definitely screwed. You can even have a bad reaction to the anti venom itself, even worse that the actual envenomation. Not saying don't take antivenom, just make sure you weigh the choices.

Jesse Fister

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