Snake Bite First Aid Treatment


Many snakes in Australia are capable of lethal bites. These include: taipans, brown snakes, tiger snakes, death adders, black snakes, copperhead snakes, rough scaled snakes and many sea snakes. Anti-venom is available for all venomous Australian snake bites.

Snake identification – Identification can be made from venom on clothing or the skin using a Venom Detection Kit. Do not wash or suck the bite or discard clothing. Do not kill the snake for identification purposes, you may get bitten yourself and medical services do not rely on visual identification of the snake species.

Signs and symptoms

  • Two fang marks, however only a single mark or a scratch may be present (localised redness and bruising are uncommon in Australian snake bite)
  • The bite may sometimes be painless and without visible marks
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Occasionally, initial collapse or confusion followed by partial or complete recovery
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blurred or double vision, or drooping eyelids
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing or breathing
  • Swollen tender glands in groin or axilla of the bitten limb
  • Limb weakness or paralysis
  • Respiratory weakness or respiratory arrest

First aid

  • Treat immediately, life-threatening effects may be seen in children within minutes
  • Lie the casualty down, keep him/her still and provide reassurance
  • Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage using pit
  • If the bite is not on a limb, firm direct pressure over the bite site may be useful
  • Transport the casualty to the hospital preferably by ambulance
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