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Snake Bite

Introduction

Snakes bite people for a variety of reasons. Most commonly it is because people deliberately interact with them, by attempting to catch, kill or hurt them.

There are only a small number of instances where Snakes accidently bite people and no-one is at fault. Most commonly this is when they are stood on or picked up accidently.

The important thing to remember is that snakes are much smaller than us; we must look like the equivalent of a ten story building to most snakes. In the animal kingdom if you are smaller than a predator you are food; this is the way most snakes think of us, as predators trying to eat or kill them.

In most instances if a snake is left alone they will move away from a confrontation; it is not often, if ever that a snake will bite or 'attack' a person for no apparant reason.

Snakes are not aggressive, but are highly defensive by nature.

Snakes are part of native Australian wildlife and are protected by law. If a person is found to be deliberately harming any native wildlife, including snakes, they can receive a large fine or time in prison. You also greatly increase your chances of snake bite if you attempt to kill or hurt a snake.

There are many snake catchers around Australia; if you find a snake in your yard or on your premises; call one.

First Aid

The first aid for snake bite is relatively simple. The methods of times gone by of 'suck and spit' or the use of tourniquets are long gone. Developed by CSL, the company who make the anti-venines, Australian Snake bite first aid is possibly the most progressive in the world.

  • Compression Bandage: The use of a compression bandage is paramount; beginning at the bite site and continuing down the limb and then back to the top.
  • Lock out the joints and bandage as firmly as that for a sprain.
  • Splint the limb: A Splint is also recommended to prevent peristaltic return; venom is transported around the body in our lymphatic system not the blood stream. This is controlled by muscle movement, the use of a compression bandage and a splint reduces muscle movement and slows the progression of the venom.
  • Remain calm and still; phone for an ambulance using '000' or '112' in remote areas.

Do Not:

  • Drive: Passing out is a common effect of snake bite
  • Drink Alcohol: This can hamper the treatment process
  • Take Drugs: Including painkillers, this hampers the treatment process
  • Have the snake killed: Doctors do not need the snake to identify the type of antivenin to use, the use of a Snake Venom Detection Kit (SVDK) is now standard practice
  • Apply a tourniquet: This cuts off circulation, and once removed shoots the venom directly to the liver like a speeding bullet
  • Cut the wound: This can worsen the envenomation by adding it directly to the blood stream.

At Snakehandler we are often asked (usually by petrified Mum's) what they can do to prevent their children from receiving a snake bite.

The best thing you can teach a child is to stop and stand still if they encounter a snake... make a game of it; tell them to stand like a statue or a tree. They can then yell for an adult as loudly as they like as snakes do not have ears and are 100% deaf. They also do not feel vibrations unless their heads are directly on the ground where the vibrations occur.

The important thing to do then is call a professional. Snakes can be highly dangerous, especially if you do not know what you are doing. If you weren't a doctor you wouldn't perform surgery, and the same can be said for every industry; you have a very high chance of receiving a snake bite your self if you do not know what you are doing.

It is also important to remember that you must have a permit or license to make any form of contact with any type of Australian native wildlife, and you may receive a fine for attempting to catch a snake if you do not have the appropriate licence.

For further advice on Snake Bite or for a Reptile Awareness Display, contact The Snakehandler Team.

Snakehandler highly recommend that everyone should complete a first aid course that covers snake bite, we are proud to be affiliated with the following first aid training provider and aim to also offer first aid courses from our training centre in Kyneton.

Lifeaid