Rattlesnakes and horses – what to do if your horse is bitten.


There are plenty of places in this country where you will find rattlesnakes. I can tell you from personal experience two things about them: They are more afraid of humans and horses and dogs than we are of them. And, have a plan.  Here’s what you need to know about rattlesnakes and horses.



rattlesnake in a zoo



Discourage rattlesnakes around the barn


  • There are a few things that you can do around the barn and farm to limit rattlesnakes in your “space”.


  • First, we need to understand how rattlers live to live around them. And, we should know that over 30 species of rattlesnakes live on the planet, with habitats between Canada and as far south as Argentina. Count on about 70 subspecies, each subspecies with its own idiosyncrasies and habits.


  • That being said, rattlesnakes generally have some ways of life that we know about. They are temperature sensitive, and in many areas, are only active at dusk. Most rattlers prefer temps between 80 and 90 degrees. Many species hibernate in winter.

Get a barn cat!


  • The favorite meals of rattlesnakes are rodents, birds, and lizards. Wage war on rodents and mice at your barn and farm, and you are infinitely less likely to have rattlesnakes on your property. Limit holes and burrows on your farm, and you are also one step ahead.


Hit the books and study up


  • For the most part, you will need to research the specific species in your area to learn their habits to work around them. Some species like open areas with rock formations, some species like a specific type of brush or shrub. Some species live in holes and burrows. Learn what the species in your area like to eat and how they live, and you can stay ahead of the curve and create a farm that no rattlesnake wants to live on.


What to do if your horse is bitten by a rattlesnake


  • For horses, you need to know that rattlesnake venom can cause massive tissue damage, crazy amounts of swelling, cardiac damage, and even neurological damage.


  • Some of this damage may be permanent. This is not an injury to be taken lightly and can be terribly painful for your horse. The first thing you need to do is call your veterinarian as soon as possible.


  • You also need to immobilize your horse to limit the spread of toxins.


  • DO NOT apply ice, DO NOT apply a tourniquet, and DO NOT suck out the venom.


  • Your veterinarian will likely do blood work, administer fluids, and possibly antivenom.


  • Have your veterinarian show you how to insert a small (6 inches or so) piece of tubing or hose into your horse’s nose in case he is bitten on the nose or face and the swelling threatens his breathing. This is a distinct possibility with a rattlesnake bite, so get a lesson from your veterinarian before snake season hits! Keep this hose with you in your vet kit and on a trail ride if you are far from home.


horse with swollen nose that has been bitten by a rattlesnake

This poor dude has the classic swollen nose, complete with tubes sutured into his nostrils so he can breathe. Add fluids, meds, and rest. Photo courtesy of Rachael M.


IV fluid bag


A rattlesnake vaccine is available for horses


  • These are available for horses and dogs. Let me be clear about this – these vaccines do not “cure” a future rattlesnake bite, but they can help your horse or dog slow the process down. You still need to call the veterinarian and have further treatments.


To brush up on first aid for horses, read this article


go shopping button for horse products


Click these links to shop for first aid supplies. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which are not a penny more for you. I couldn’t be more grateful for your support!


 Fun colors of generic vetrap

The best Elastikon tape – so sticky!


My favorite all-purpose first aid ointment to have around

          ADC Veterinary Thermometer, Dual Scale, Adtemp 422 


3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope, Black Edition Chestpiece, Black Tube, 27 inch, 5803 – For finding heart rate and gut sounds


Weight Tape 


horse wearing sox for horses on mat

Sox for Horses – for any skin funk, fly problems, summer sore, stomping, etc.

Perri’s Standing Bandages, Pack of 4 – so many colors to choose from



One style of leg quilts, from Intrepid International



Yet another style of quilt


Durvet Chlorhexidine 2% Solution, 16 fl. oz.

                                               Betadine is a useful wound cleaner



60cc syringes are handy for the barn, for meds and cleaning wounds.


This is a fairly small pill crusher, it would be good for small doses.


For grinding up your horse’s pills

Uptite Poultice


Sore No More Liniment Bottle – pick your size

Back on Track Limber Up LiniMint Leg and Body Brace


Ice Horse Pair of Stifle Wraps for Equine Therapy – Comes with 4 Ice Packs

 Hock Wraps for Equine Therapy – Comes with 6 Ice Packs

Ice Horse back blanket – for use with ice packs or heating packs!



Ice Horse Pair of Tendon Leg Wraps for Equine Therapy – Comes with 4 Ice Packs


These ice packs make for easy cooling of your horse’s legs and hooves. They last for hours.

This tall boot can be filled with ice or ice packs to help the horse with laminitis.


These affordable boots can be filled with ice to help your horse.



Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot for Horses, Black – thick-soled hoof boot for riding and hoof wrapping.


These Cloud boots are great for the horse that needs extra cushion, like the horse with laminitis


Hoof Wraps Easy Soaker with pads



Hoof Wraps Brand Bandage – Affordable wrap for hoof protection








rattlesnakes and horses