SNAKE SEASON

Warm weather in Australia means snake season!

Land snakes come out of hibernation when the warmer weather arrives across the country.

Australia has approximately 140 species of land snakes and last recorded, 32 species of sea snakes.  Of those, about 100 Australian snakes are venomous and of those only around 12 are likely to inflict a wound that could kill.

How do I reduce the risk of snakes and snake bites?

Around the Home

  • Remove debris and woodpiles.
  • Cut long grass, prune shrubbery and remove leaf litter
  • Rodents are appetising to snakes, keep pests under control
  • Aviaries and chicken pens can be very attractive too.  Keep the enclosures clean and secure.
  • Clean up any spilled food, fruit or bird seed

Pets

Pets don’t deter snakes

  • Keep cats inside (if possible)
  • Keep dogs inside (if possible).  They are inquisitive and curious; a snake is just another animal to them.  Obedience training can help.  Walk your dog on a lead and discourage your dog from exploring holes and digging under rocks.
  • Smaller pets (mice, rats, birds, chickens) and their enclosures can attract snakes.  Secure their enclosures and ensure small mesh is used so there are no openings large enough for snakes to enter.

If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, take them to a vet immediately for assessment.

Hiking/Bushwalking

One of the most probable places to encounter a snake is out in its natural habitat. To reduce your risk of snake bite:

  • Be alert.  Always keep a keen eye on the trail ahead
  • Wear long pants to protect the ankles
  • Wear solid, closed in shoes
  • Be mindful of where you put your hands around trees, logs and rocks
  • Always carry a mobile phone to seek help if you are bitten

What should I do if I see a snake?

A large majority of snake bites occur when people try to kill or catch a snake.  DON’T PANIC if you and a snake cross paths.  Back away slowly to a safe distance and allow the snake to move away.  A snake will only bite if it feels threatened, a strike is their only defence if they can’t move away.

Many snakes are protected and cannot be killed unless threatening life.  Most Australian states and territories recommend calling a private snake handler.

What do I do if I get bitten by a snake?

There are two types of bites, a Dry Bite (no venom released) and Venomous Bites (venom/poison is released).  If a bite has occurred, you will most likely not know which bite it is.  Always assume venom has been injected and manage the bite as a medical emergency.  For all bites, provide emergency care including CPR (if required) and call an ambulance on 000.  Apply a pressure bandage over the bite tight enough that you cannot slide a finger between the bandage and skin.  Continue the bandage (or use another if possible) to immobilise the whole limb and splint if you can.  Keep the person calm and as still as possible until medical help arrives.

DO NOT use a tourniquet, cut the wound or attempt to suck the poison out!

How will I know which type of snake has bitten me?

Snake identification can be tricky.  A snake brown in colour may not be an Eastern Brown snake.  A snake may not actually be a snake.  Blue tongue and other lizards are often mistaken for their cousins.  The best way to identify a snake is to take a photo that you can show to the appropriate person(s) later.  Only take this photo if it is safe to do so!  Antivenom treatment is not determined on sight of the snake.  The bite site can be tested to determine which snake it was, and the patient treated accordingly.  Antivenom is available for all venomous Australian snake bites.

Remember…

Contrary to popular belief, snakes don’t want anything to do with humans.  They will only bite when feeling threatened, so back away slowly and let them move on ….

Stay safe this Snake Season!