Every year in Australia thousands of family pets are bitten by snakes, the types of snake vary depending on where in Australia the bite occurred. Here in Canberra the most common snakes we encounter are Brown Snakes followed by Tiger Snakes and less commonly Red-Bellied Black Snakes.
As snakes hibernate during the colder months the vast majority of snake bites take place in the Spring/Summer months. Snakes are commonly found in areas with long grass, rocks and other hiding holes, often near a fresh water source such as a creek or dam.
It is important to remember that most snakes will try to avoid you and your pets. However, whilst we humans may simply walk away from a snake, our pet’s are inquisitive, armed with natural hunting instincts and when given the chance, will harass snakes often resulting in snake bites.
What can I do to prevent a snake bite to my pet?
- Avoid areas with grass any longer than ankle height
- Always keep your dog on lead when walking
- Do not let your dog investigate off path/in long grass
- Keep your backyard tidy, mowed and remove any rubbish that would make a nice hiding spot for a snake
- Consider building a cat enclosure for cats that like to venture outdoors
What are the signs of snake bites that I should be aware of?
There are several factors that may determine the reaction your pet may have to a snake bite. These can include the type of snake, where on the body your pet was bitten and how much venom was injected.
Signs and symptoms of snake bites vary but can often show some of the following:
- Sudden weakness
- Collapse (can seem to ‘recover’ shortly after)
- Twitching of the muscles
- Dilated pupils non-responsive to light
And in later stages:
- Blood in urine
I think my pet has been bitten by a snake, what should I do?
If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake you should keep them as quiet/still as possible whilst seeking immediate veterinary attention. The sooner your pet is treated the better their chances of survival.
Unless you are certain the snake is dead do not put yourself at risk trying to identify it.
What will the Vet do to treat my pet?
Once you arrive at the Vet they may recommend a series of tests to determine whether a snake bite has occurred.
After receiving confirmation of a snake bite your pet will be placed on intravenous fluids and possibly oxygen depending on their current condition.
Your vet will administer the appropriate anti venom to your pet slowly whilst intensive monitoring and supportive care continues.
Subject to your pets reaction to the anti venom occasionally more than one vial is needed.
Depending on the severity of your pets condition, intensive nursing, hospitalisation and supportive care such as IV fluids and oxygen may be necessary for a number of days whilst they recover.
What is my pet’s prognosis?
Approximately 80% of pets survive snake bites if treated quickly.
The survival rate of pets that are left untreated is much, much lower.
What can I do to remove a snake from my property?
If you see a snake do not try to catch or harm it. All Australian snakes are protected and you will expose yourself to unnecessary danger.
If you need a snake removed/relocated please phone either:
• Access Canberra Contact Centre on 132281.
• Canberra Snake Rescue & Relocation on 0405 405 304.
or visit the Access Canberra website HERE for more information.