South Coast Snake Catchers First Aid Advice

What to do in an emergency

Do Do Not
Calm and reassure patient Wash the bite site, residual venom is important as medical staff will use it with a snake venom detection kit to identify species
Remove jewellery Cut or suck the bite site
Apply broad pressure immobilisation bandage Use a tourniquet, as this will cut off blood flow
Start at the bite site and then wrap as high and as low as possible up the bitten limb, leaving toes or fingers exposed Remove the persons clothing
Tension should be the same as for a sprain Allow patient to move or walk around
Mark bite site on top of bandage with a pen Attempt to catch or kill the snake, as the snake is not required for any treatment
Splint the limb with rigid object (leg) or sling (arm) and immobilise patient
Call 000

If a bite occurs to the torso or head of a person a pressure pad or dressing should be applied directly on the bite site and held there firmly. The patient should remain as motionless as possible and wait until help arrives.

More Information

Every year in Australia it is estimated that approximately 3000 people are bitten by snakes, of which between 200-500 require hospital admission and anti-venom administration. Additionally only 1-3 deaths are attributed to snake bite annually in Australia. A common misconception about snakes is that they are extremely aggressive and will bite to kill as soon as given the opportunity. This couldn’t be further from the truth with snakes being very shy and cryptic animals that want to avoid confrontation at all costs. Snakes will also give warning cues to a perceived threat before bitting such as hissing, flattening the neck, coiling in a strike position and making several bluff strikes. Over 80% of snake bites occur directly from a person deliberately trying to catch or kill a snake.

First Aid For Pets

The instinctual behaviour and curiosity of our pets often lead to encounters with snakes, which can have unfortunate outcomes. Dogs are often bitten when trying to play with or kill snakes, while the predatory nature of cats see them bitten as they see snakes as prey.

Signs & Symptoms In Pets: If you suspect your pet has been bitten:
Weakness Calm your pet
Swelling of bitten area Minimise movement
Shaking or twitching of muscles Pressure immobilisation bandage if bitten on limb
Excess saliva Pressure pad if bitten on torso or head
Dilated pupils Do not give food or water
Vomiting Immediately go to a veterinary
Blood in urine
Collapse and paralysis

Even if symptoms are not present or it is unsure whether your pet was indeed bitten, still attend a vet and take a seat in the waiting room. Advise vet staff of the possible snake bite situation. It is best for your animal to be close to immediate treatment should symptoms begin to manifest.