Snake season is alive and well in Australia, with three people hospitalised overnight for snake bites in Queensland in early January.
According to Queensland Ambulance Service, there were 817 snake bites across the state up to November 30 for 2018. The number increased from 739 bites in 2016 and 658 bites in 2015.
University of Queensland snake expert Professor Bryan Fry said snake season may be prolonged due to global warming. “Their activity season may now stretch to April or May, where in some areas it may have previously slowed down by March as things cooled down,” Fry told AAP.
As with other medical matters, prevention is better than cure. It is recommended to stay cautious when approaching a snake habitat. Keep calm and back away to a safe distance if a snake is within sight to let it move. Taronga Zoo zookeeper Emma Bembrick also advised to keep potential snake prey – such as birds, chickens, cats and dogs – inside or secured in a clean enclosure.
When snake bites occur, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance. While it might sound counterintuitive, do not wash off or suck the bite. Medical staff will test the bite area to identify the venom and administer the right treatment.
Firmly bandage the bite area and keep the affected limb at rest to slow the venom movement into the bloodstream.
Finally, do not attempt to trap or kill the snake. This is not only unnecessary for identification purposes, as medical services could identify the venom from the bite alone, but also illegal in all states and territories across Australia unless it poses a genuine threat to life and safety.
Contact a licensed snake removal service, who can relocate the wildlife in a safe and humane way.