FIRST-AID & MANAGEMENT OF SNAKE-BITES.
Any suspected snake bite must be treated with immediate First Aid, (pressure bandage and immobilization technique)and transported to hospital - urgently!
1. Check that the snake is no longer around threatening the safety of all concerned, do not try to catch or kill a snake!
Keep the victim quiet and reassure them, get them to lay down. If possible call for assistance. Use a mobile phone and call emergency (000 landline and mobile phone, alternatively 112 for mobile phone).
If possible remove any jewellery (watch) and clothing (Cut off) from bitten limb.
2. Apply a wide (< 100mm/4inch >) elastic crepe bandage over the bite and about 5 t 10 cms either side of the bite site.
3.Using a 2nd bandage & starting just above the finger or toe nails, continue to bandage evenly, over the original bandage & the entire limb to the armpit or groin (It should be as tight as one would bandage a freshly sprained wrist or ankle) then any left over bandage should be continued down the limb. A 2nd, 3rd; and possibally 4th bandage should be applied over the first (pending whether bite is on arm or leg) starting over the fingers or toes. If possible mark the bite site with a pen/biro on top of the bandage.
3. Immobilize the bitten limb with a splint, stick, or rolled up newspaper or cardboard, bandaged or tied to the limb, or use a St. John's sling or air splint applied to limb. All joints of bitten limb need to be totally immobilized.
If bandaging is not available, tear towels, sheets, clothes, petticoats, etc; into strips, even pantihose may be used.
Keep victim and bitten limb as still as possible especially if bite is on body or face.
4. Where possible bring transport to the victim, preferably an ambulance and transport immediately to a major hospital.
A/ DO NOT WASH THE BITE SITE
B/ DO NOT CUT AND SUCK THE BITE SITE
C/ DO NOT USE A TOURNIQUET.
Always remember your DR ABCD - in some cases you 'may' need to commence CPR:
If possible, get someone to call for an ambulance 000 or on a mobile phone 112.
DO'S and DON'TS when dealing with Snake-bite!
Do not try to catch or kill a snake. Statistics show that 95% of people that end up in hospital from snakebite are those that have tried to kill or intifere with the snake. Remember on a warm day a snake can strike high off the ground, springing off it's tail!
Do not wash the bite site. A doctor can use a sample from the bite site to help identify the venom by using a Venom Detection Kit test, aiding in the administering of the correct antivenene.
Do not give food or drink - especially alcohol, small sips of water are acceptable if there is a great delay in the victim being transported to hospital.
Do not cut or suck the bite. (By sucking the bite site the first aider may become envenomated & cutting it may cause other unwanted medical problems).
Do not apply or use a tourniquet. (A touriquet will cause compression injuries to nerves, tendons, ligaments, arteries, veins etc:
Always apply first aid and seek urgent medical assistance upon any suspected snakebite.
Venomous snakebites are not always painful and may not be visible to the naked or untrained eye. There may or may not be puncture or scratch marks, let alone two puncture marks as most commonly seen in the movies. Venomous snakes have more than just two fangs in their mouth, they have other teeth both top & bottom as we do, consequently multiple scratch or puncture marks may be seen.
A venomous snake only needs to break the top layer of skin & leave a tiny sample of venom (invisible to the eye) and this could be responsible for a fatallity.
SNAKE BITE PREVENTION:
Always leave snakes alone. Do not attempt to hold, touch, feel or interfere with a snake unless there is a qualified "Herpetologist" already on hand and holding the reptile or, the snake is under his/her control.
Dead snakes can still inflict a fatal bite & there have been many documented incidents. Don't bury a dead snake in the garden bed, someone may scratch themselves on it, digging around at a later date. Don't throw the body of a dead snake into the paddock, someone may tread on or scratch themselves on the skeleton which may contain crystalized venom, still being lethal! Sometimes the nerves of a dead snake, severed in peices can still be resposible for a potentially fatal bite.
95% of people that are admitted to hospital due to snakebite, are those whom have tried to kill and/or interfere with the reptile, (statistical studies done in WA).
Always wear good protective footwear/boots etc; and loose fitting long pants/slacks/jeans when bushwalking. Use a long stick and make noise in front of where you are walking in long grass. Stamp your feet and make plenty of noise around where you are.
Never put your hands where you can't see, in hollow logs, long grass, under rocks, in rock crevices when climbing rock faces etc;
Use good leather gloves when gardening, spider bites are more common than snake-bite.
Use a torch if walking around on a warm evening when dark, even around the house! Instead of risking death from cooking on a warm day, a snake will venture out of a night, laying upon warm pathways/cement/roads etc; to build up it's body temperature prior to going on the hunt. Reptiles/snakes are cold blooded & ectothermic, meaning they need to draw & control their body temperature, by using the outside elements. This is why they are more commonly encountered in the warmer months of the year.
On the other hand when temperatures are 32C & above, snakes/reptiles will seek areas to cool down, including inside your house. A snake may also detect moisture from air conditioning, escaping under the back/front door, as it passes by, especially in times of dry weather or drought. Don't invite a snake into your house by leaving the door open, not even for your pets.
Never leave front/back doors open in warm weather, make sure insect screens have no holes in them and monitor pet doors as snakes also use these to gain entry to a cooler area or water on a hot day. Fit a good quality weather strip to your door, one that has a grommet attached to the door stop, forcing the weather strip to the floor upon closing the door.
Stack iron, firewood, timber etc; at least 30cm (12inches) off the ground. If possible don't leave items laying around the carport, garage or shed, especially near front/back doors. Try and use shelving.
Always turn compost heaps regually to help prevent rodents from nesting in there. Prevent mice & rats from breeding on and around your property. Snakes will venture into the roof of ceiling space after them.
Keep lawns, grass and weeds cut down to a minimum. Prune overhanging bushes, shrubs and trees up off the ground, removing secure areas where snakes like to hide. When landscaping your garden, remember that moss rocks, poorly constructed retaining walls and ground covers provide excellent & secure places for snakes to hide & live in particular - cavities after soil movement?
Don't leave shoes/ boots etc; laying on the ground at the back/front door, if you must, get a shoe rack. A metre long brown snake can easily hide unseen - inside a shoe left laying on the ground at the door!
Don't leave your pet's water bowl by the back door, move it further down the backyard into a shaded area! Having your pet's water bowl near the door encourages the snake closer to your house making it easier to dart inside when you venture out! A dripping tap or air conditioner outlet can also provide a viable water source for a thirsty snake!
Never intentionally run over a snake on the road as it may hitch a ride home with you!
Snake-bite Prevention is far better than a cure. There have been times when antivenenes haven't worked. There may also be secondary infections or other complications.
DOGS, CATS & OTHER PETS!
Hundreds of situations arise every season where dogs and cats are bitten & die from snakebite. To a cat a snake may appear similar to a live bit of string or it may be the hunting instint and to a dog it may be one of protecting it's owner? Sometimes dogs may take up to 4 hours and cats up to 12 hours, before they show any signs or symptoms of a snakebite but others may be instant - within minutes. Life saving antivenein is available and quick action is needed in getting your pet to an emergency vet.
Signs & Symptoms of snakebite in dogs and cats may vary from one to another depending on the animal and maybe it's size & the species of snake, but may include unsteadiness in the back end of the animal or as if the back end of the animal is drunk, paralysis from backend of animal creeping forward, vomiting or frothing from the mouth, diarrhea or incontinence, fits or convulsions, dropping eye lids - as though your pet can't stay awake or the pupils being dialated. If you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a snake phone your vet immediately! Don't wait to see if it's OK - it may be too late!
Get a "PET PARK" - The Ultimate Safe Environment for Your Pet!
Recently I attended a clients place whose valuable black Siamese cat had been bitten by a brown snake, which I assume had followed the scent of a mouse that had left it's trial whilst feeding on the cat biscuits, into their cat's enclosure. As these people are lucky enough to share their backyard with koalas & other wildlife - even hand feeding kookaburras & cherrish their animals, they constructed an enclosure for their Siamese - keeping them & the visiting wildlife safe! (As an adult brown snake of 1.5 metres can go anywhere that a mouse can go, the snake possibally gained entry through a small gap the size of a five cent coin, under a corner of the outside door of the enclosure - unseen to the eye, but typically easy for a scavaging mouse to find access to a food source.) With the assistance of their veterinarian the Siamese survived, but with a typical bill of about $1,000. The couple have since had the Siamese's (2) enclosure totally secured and made snake proof.
I was fortunate enough to see the completed construction of this "Pet Park" and honestly, I would consider it to be the, hilton penthouse playground for cats. By far easier, cheaper & safer than the expensive & traumatised issues faced when a pet suffers a snakebite. Untold clients that I have dealt with in the past that have had the unfortunate experience of having to deal with the issues after their pet dog or cat was bitten by a snake, would rather have had a safe playground for their pet instead?
I have to take this opportunity to both congratulate & commend Nadia & her partner on the steps they have taken to ensure the safe well being of their exotic pets whilst still having the enjoyment of free roaming wildlife in their backyard. They live in suburban Adelaide! More people should follow this lead & keep their pets safe - Prevention is better and cheaper than cure. The enclosure was tailor made to suite their needs by Stephen, from
Adelaide Cat Enclosures - Pet Parks, (ph) 0415-835-836:
LANDSCAPING A NEW GARDEN!
If you are considering relandscaping your home or you are purchasing a new home and are faced with the prospects of designing and landscaping your gardens, there are a few useful points to consider which may help to eliminate common problems that we at Snake-Away Services encounter in the community, knowing that they encourage & harbour mice, rats, insects to lizards, birds nesting in low lying areas, all of which are food for snakes or encourage snakes to want to live around our homes.
Retaining Walls need to be constructed securely without gaps & crevices. Many retaining walls are often back filled with land fill eg; broken bricks, rocks, mortar etc; then covered with dirt. Over time with earth movment & erosion cavities appear creating secure area for a snake to escape to. Most railway sleepers have holes in them that go clean through, so a snake can easily go through into the cavity behind. If using Besser brick or similar to construct a retaining wall, again make sure that there are no gaps between the bricks. Moss rocks stacked on top of one another or stepped up a slope allow for large cavities to form over time. If possible have the ground beneath - compacted before placing the moss rocks in position. If it is possible, maybe a cement footing with cement poured around each layer of rock. It is easier and cheaper to close the gaps as you build rather than patch up afterwards.
Retaining Walls covered in dense ground covers provide extremely secure homes for unwanted guests. Use small native shrubs that sit up off the ground.
Waterwise & Native Plants. Apart from the current water restrictions making it more difficult to keep gardens alive, you can save time & money by planting natives. Apart from being more water tolerant to our climate, the natrual compost from the falling leaves slowly helps to provide a blanket cover making it difficult for weeds to grow. Keep ground covers to a minimum.
Mulches. Such as pea straw, bark & garden mulches etc; although helping us to be waterwise, they can also provide the perfect incubator for a snake to lay it's eggs in, as the the mulch absorbs the moisture when it rains or when we water, consequently a snakes' eggs can draw the moisture & heat from the composting mulch, providing the perfect environment for them to grow & incubate. Keep mulches etc; to a minimum, no more than 100mm (4 inches) thick.