6 Dangerous Creatures to Know Before Hitting the Trails

6 Dangerous Creatures to Know Before Hitting the Trails
Activities such as hiking, backpacking, camping or rock climbing are great ways to explore the great outdoors. But nothing can spoil your outdoor adventure like an unforeseen bite by some of mother nature's most dangerous creatures. Here are six creatures to be aware of before heading out for your next expedition.

Brown Recluse Spider

Recluse spiders hide beneath rocks, dead logs and pieces of bark. They come out at night to hunt. They attack more readily in the warmer months and are common in the South and Midwest. Although, they probably can be found in all 50 states.

They are pale brown to reddish, with long slender legs. An elongated top front portion of the body is often referred to as a violin shape giving it the nickname, the violin spider.

After the bite, a painful red blister appears, with a bluish ring, then another red circle, a bulls-eye type wound. Chills, fever and weakness result. To treat, clean the site of the bite. Apply ice or something cold and consult with a doctor.


Black Widow Spider

Black widow spiders can be found under logs, stone crevices, pieces of bark and in thick vegetation. They can be found in every state, except Alaska. They have a shiny black body with long legs and a red marking under belly.

Initially after a bite, there is little or no pain, but redness or swelling will appear at the bite site. Within 30 to 60 minutes, severe cramping occurs often in the abdomen and back, inducing an anxiety or panic state. Headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and heavy sweating are common. To treat, clean the site of the wound, apply ice or something cold and find a doctor.

Coral Snake

Found in wood or rock piles, caves or swampy areas, coral snakes are likely to bite your finger, toe or a fold in skin. Do not put your hands or feet in places that you have not inspected first. Coral snakes can be found from the coastal region of North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico to Arizona.

They have bands of red, black, and yellow. Yellow always separates the red and black bands. The old wise saying, "Red on yellow, kill a fellow, red on black, friend of Jack!" is meant to distinguish the dangerous coral snake breed. It might be hard to remember that in the encounter of one, so just look for the black nose. Dangerous coral snakes all have black noses.

There will be swelling at the bite site, nausea, vomiting to severe dizziness, weakness and respiratory problems. To treat, clean the wound. It takes up to 12 hours for signs of the venom's effect, find a doctor as soon as possible.

Pit Viper

There are more than 30 species of pit vipers: rattlesnakes, diamondback rattlesnakes, copperheads and water moccasins to name a few. These various snakes can be found in all states except Alaska and Hawaii.

These snakes have a triangular head and cat-like eyes, and the jaws of all pit vipers open wide to allow venom to be squirted from canals down in to the fangs, to be injected in their prey.

Mild bites swell, may form a blister and turn black and blue. Moderate bites add swelling that moves up the arm or leg toward the heart, creating numbness and swollen lymph nodes. A severe bite can cause increased heart rate, blurred vision, headache, light-headedness, sweating and chills.

To treat, stay calm. Keep the bitten extremity immobilized lower than the heart. Remove any piece of clothing or jewelry that would cause discomfort as swelling increases. Do not cut or attempt to suck the venom out. If a snake bite kit is present utilize the venom suction cup to remove the venom. Clean the wound and apply a bandage. Seek medical attention immediately.


These are found in many places, including desert regions such as Arizona, New Mexico, California, Utah and Nevada. They are yellow with dark stripes, with a long tail and long pincers.

Instant pain occurs with a sting. You may also experience heavy sweating, blurred vision, difficulty breathing and swallowing, and possibly jerky muscle movements. To treat, apply ice or a cold compress to the site. Call for medical help immediately.

Gila Monsters

Gila Monsters are found in the Sonora desert region of the southern Arizona, southwestern Utah and northwestern New Mexico. They like to hunt for prey at night. They are colored pink to orange on black thick skin. And they have a flat head with huge jaw muscles. Body can reach almost 2 feet in length.

Although Gila monsters may appear sluggish, beware! They are quick moving and clamp on to a limb so tightly with their strong jaw muscles that they have needed to be removed with pliers, crowbars and knives. Pain usually occurs within 5 minutes of the bite. The wound swells and pain will travel up the arm or leg. Weakness or sweating are common. To treat, wash the wound with warm soap and water, if available. Seek medical help immediately.


Article Written By Michelle Vermillion Lawre

Michelle Vermillion Lawrence has worked as a therapist helping children, adolescents and families in individual, group and support therapy. Since 2001 she has shared her experience and knowledge writing for various online publications. Lawrence holds a Master of Arts degree in counseling psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.

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