What to do if a venomous rattlesnake bites you and you don’t have cell service in Idaho

Idaho has an abundance of hiking trails to explore during the summer months, but being prepared when exposed to wildlife and areas with no cell service will help you have a good time.

Hiking in the Boise Foothills and beyond can be exciting but requires preparation before venturing into the wilderness. There are 12 snake species in Idaho, including the Western rattlesnake and prairie rattlesnake, Idaho’s two venomous snakes.

The prairie rattlesnake is one of two venemous snakes in Idaho.
The prairie rattlesnake is one of two venemous snakes in Idaho.

It’s possible you could end up in the Idaho wilderness without cell phone service and surrounded by potentially dangerous snakes. So what will you do if you get bitten?

Below, you’ll find tips on how to avoid the snake in the first place, how to prepare for your hike — and then what to do if the worst happens:

Avoiding a snake bite

In the U.S., roughly 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes yearly. To prevent a snake bite from happening when you’re out on a hike, below are some tips to consider from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Prepare for your hike

  • Wear over-the-ankle boots, thick socks, and loose-fitting long pants

  • Don’t go barefoot or use sandals

While on your trip

  • Stick to well-used trails when exploring

  • Avoid walking through tall grass and weeds

  • Watch where you step

  • Avoid wandering in the dark

  • When going over fallen trees or large rocks, inspect the surrounding areas to make sure there are no snakes

  • Be cautious when climbing rocks or gathering firewood

  • Shake out sleeping bags before using them and inspect logs before sitting down

Preparing for your Idaho hike

Hiking on a new trail can be exciting, making it easy to get lost or hurt in a no-cell service area. It is essential to stay vigilant on designated trails.

Below are some tips from the National Park Service to prevent getting lost:

  • Review your route before you get on the trail

  • Pack a compass or handheld GPS

  • Be aware of trail junctions

  • Watch out for information signs

  • Keep an eye out for landmarks throughout the trail

Call 911 if you have an emergency, like a rattlesnake bite. Remember, you don’t need a cell phone provider to use emergency services.

Western rattlesnake
Western rattlesnake

What to do if you don’t have a cell signal

Worst case scenario, you find yourself in a remote area with no cell service and potentially even hurt.

Below are some tips for finding help if you’re in this situation:

Calling for help

  • Many satellite emergency communicators can send text messages and have an SOS feature to send coordinates.

  • Some iPhone users can make an SOS call through the lock screen. The call will automatically call a local emergency number and share your location information, according to Apple. One thing to consider is that iPhone 14 phone models and those after can use the emergency SOS feature with only satellite and not cellular data or WiFi coverage.


Calling for help when you’re deep in the Idaho mountains is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Below are some general tips on finding help if you’re lost:

When waiting for help, follow these tips, according to the Department of Agriculture:

  • Immediately call dispatch or 911 and stay calm. A higher heart rate will pump the venom through your bloodstream faster.

  • Wash the bite gently with soap and water, and remove any tight clothing or jewelry around areas that may swell.

  • If possible, keep the bite below heart level. This will prevent the venom from reaching your heart as quickly.

  • Do not restrict blood flow by applying a tourniquet or icing the wound. Many amputations from rattlesnake bites occur because the wound is iced or blood flow is restricted.

  • Do not try to suck the poison out with your mouth. The poison could possibly enter another cut in your mouth or be swallowed.