Thursday, 5 December 2013

It is Snake Season in Diggers Rest

Residents have already sited snakes in their yards and farms this year. Many people do not know what to do when they find a snake and often  make dangerous mistakes. Brown and tiger snakes are very common around the area.

Snake handler Jarrod Bingham with a baby tiger snake. Source: News Limited

In Australia there are about 3,000 snake bites per year, of which 200 to 500 receive anti-venom; on average one or two will prove fatal. About half the deaths are due to bites from the brown snake; the rest mostly from tiger snake, taipan and death adder. Some deaths are sudden, however in fact it is uncommon to die within four hours of a snake bite.

What to do from the RSPCA 

If you see a snake in your garden or house, do not try to catch or kill the snake. Walk away from it slowly and keep an eye on it from a safe distance (several metres away). Keep your pets safely away from it and the snake will usually move on in its own time. Snakes don’t want to be near humans any more than humans generally want to be near snakes.

If the snake has decided to stay around, and you really want it removed, you should ring your nearest National Parks and Wildlife office for advice. They will tell you how to contact a licensed snake handler to have it removed. If the snake is inside the house, close the door of the room it is in and place a towel under the door before calling Parks and Wildlife.

To reduce the risk of snakes finding your backyard or property attractive, keep the grass low in, clean up any rubbish piles and clear away objects where snakes may be able to hide (e.g. wood piles, under sheets of corrugated metal).

The tiger and brown snake are responsible for most of the snake bites in domestic pets. The tiger snakes have a bite that can be fatal to not only pets but humans. Brown snake venom is milder than the tiger snake’s. These snakes have a toxin that causes paralysis and also have an agent in them that uses up all the clotting factors that helps to stop your pet from bleeding. Tiger snakes also have a toxin that breaks down muscle causing damage to the kidneys.

Signs of snake bite (by St Johns):
  • Puncture marks or scratches
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Bleeding from the site
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Drowsiness, giddiness or faintness
  • Problems speaking or swallowing
  • Pain in the throat, chest or abdomen
  • Respiratory weakness or arrest
  • Dark urine

If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake you should keep them calm and quiet and take them to a vet immediately. The chances of recovery are much greater if your pet is treated early, with some pets making a recovery within 48 hours. Pets left untreated have a much lower survival rate and many die. If your vet is some distance away, if practical, you can apply a pressure bandage – a firm bandage over and around the bite site - to help slow the venom spreading to the heart. Do NOT wash the wound or apply a tourniquet.

If you can identify the snake, tell your vet what type of snake it is - but don’t try to catch or kill the snake. If it is dead, bring the snake with you, otherwise there is a blood or urine test that can identify whether your animal has been bitten and the type of snake responsible.

Learn much more about taking care of animals at the RSPCA Knowledge Base.

Identification Of Common Snakes
 Tiger Snake

Common Brown Snake - Light Coloured

First Aid Advice From Ambulance Victoria

The pressure immobilisation technique described below is recommended for bites and stings from all Australian venomous snakes, funnel web spiders, blue ringed octopus, and cone shell. It can be used for bee, wasp, and ant stings but only for people with a known allergy to them.
  • Calm and reassure the casualty
  • Place a small pad and pressure bandage over the bite site. Never wash away evidence of the venom as this may be used to determine what anti-venom is required at hospital
  • Use a crepe bandage to bandage from the extremity, such as finger or toes, all the way up the limb. Make sure that the tips of the fingers or toes are left exposed so they can be checked for circulation
  • Mark the bite site on the bandage so it can be cut out at hospital without removing the whole bandage
  • Tell the patient to stay still until the ambulance arrives

This treatment is not recommended for the first aid management of other spiders (including redback), jellyfish, fish stings such as stonefish and bites or stings by scorpions, centipedes or beetles.

Fact Sheet By St John Ambulance Australia

What to do if you suspect a snake bite

If you suspect that your pet has been bitten then contact a Veterinarian as soon as possible. If a person is suspected of a snake bite then call 000 immediately. Remember a false alarm is a good outcome.

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