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What is the first aid treatment for snake bite?

Updated: Sep 26, 2021

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What is the first aid treatment for snake bite in Australia? What do I do if I got bitten by a snake? What are the snake bite management guidelines in Australia? These are some of the most commonly asked questions Scott and I get asked every Spring. Snakes are on the move, in the need of food and looking to mate, and are more commonly seen than in the colder months. Read on to learn more about snakebite in Australia.

Snake Bite and First Aid in Australia

First it needs to be said that snakes do NOT go out of their way to bite you. Snakes do not possess venom purely so they can ruin the day of any human or beloved pets they may encounter. Snake venom has evolved over the millions of years to aid them in three primal needs – immobilization of prey, a digestion aid, and for self-defence. Snakes do not hunt you down and chase you for miles. It is in fact, the complete opposite. Generally they rather flee the upcoming interaction with a human than engage. The common misconception on snakes is size. Look at it from their point of view. You’re huge compared to them. Only a complete fool would take on something they perceive as a threat that has that much of a size advantage (and the advantage of limbs and opposable thumbs!) The picture below is of an Eastern Brown Snake, Pseudonaja textilis. How big is the snake?

Eastern Brown Snake, Pseudonaja textilis

For those that answered with “5ft long” - you’re more correct than those that answered with “Who cares, kill it”. That Eastern Brown, Pseudonaja textilis is indeed roughly 5ft/150cms in length. But it is approximately 4cm high. 4cm is how big that Eastern Brown actually is. If you are unlucky enough to be bitten by a snake, chances are you have come across one accidently and startled it, or you have harassed one to the point it feels that the only option is to defend itself and flee.

snake bite flow chart

The amount of people that actually get bitten and/or die from snakebite each year is very low. Statistically, here in Australia you have more chance of dying from a horse or a cow, a kangaroo, hornets, bees and wasps (mostly from allergic reactions) transport accidents and diseases. With a bit of knowledge on snake safety and proper first aid, those numbers will decrease year after year.

If you can avoid it, don’t go bushwalking by yourself. In an emergency you need that second person. The help they can provide can cut down time wasted immensely. Apart from the help that they can physically provide, the mental help is invaluable. Your mind races. You cannot help it no matter how hard you try to still it. A second person will not only do all the first aid steps for you, but be able to take your mind elsewhere to avoid panic setting in at the thought