What to do if you're bitten by a snake

With snake catchers busy across the country, it's a good time to make sure you know what to do in the event that one strikes.

Central West NSW-based snake catcher Jake Hansen estimates he would receive a call about a snake most days. Mostly these are for reassurance or for snake relocation.

Orange based snake-catcher Jake Hansen has already had a busy October. Photo: SUPPLIED.

Orange based snake-catcher Jake Hansen has already had a busy October. Photo: SUPPLIED.

He said when you see a snake, especially in a built up area, call someone who knows what they're doing.

"If it's in a built up urban area, while not unusual for them to be there, it's probably best to have them relocated.

"In this case keep an eye on the snake from a far enough distance so you don't spook the snake and call a licensed snake re-locator.

"If you attempt to interfere with a snake yourself then your chance of being bitten goes from zero to relatively likely.

"If you live out of town or are out bush-walking just give the snake space to move and you will likely never see it again. If the snake goes inside a home or in an area close to where people walk or there are dogs or cats, then have it relocated."


Leading clinical toxicologist with the University of Newcastle, Professor Geoff Isbister, says increasing your chance of surviving a snake bite comes down to these important steps:

  1. Keep still. Put a pressure bandage on, applying direct pressure over the bite site and then cover the rest of the limb.
  2. The pressure must be the same as you would for a sprained ankle.
  3. Keeping still is most important.
  4. Call an ambulance and get to a hospital as soon as possible.

Prof Isbister advises this should be done straight away and emergency services should always be called, irrespective of how you might feel.

Never try to find the snake to bring it in for identification. Not only are you wasting precious time, it could also increase your chance of attack.

"In the event of a snake bite you don't need to waste precious time trying to capture or kill a snake to bring to the hospital. Firstly medical staff have no training in snake identification, so it is of no use to them. Secondly if a person as been envenomed, a venom detection kit will be used to determine the correct antivenim to administer," Mr Hansen said.

Dr Isbister said most snake bite-related deaths in Australia were actually caused by the person going into cardiac arrest, while one-third of deaths were from bleeding into the brain.

"Treatment is basic life support, like CPR," he said.

"That's potentially the most important. Prevention is important as well. Most Australian snakes have short fangs."

This story What to do if you're bitten by a snake first appeared on Yass Tribune.