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Snake bite

snake bite

Snake bites can occur on Australian farms. Australia has some of the world’s deadliest snakes and they mainly live in rural and remote areas. Snakes also come around farm houses looking for water or mice.

Different snake venom affects the body differently and you should seek medical assistance urgently after a snake bite.  Symptoms of snake bite may include pain, swelling or bruising around the bite (local effects), or more widespread effects throughout the body (systemic effects).

First aid for snake bite aims to stop the venom moving around the body. This has shown that very little venom reaches the circulation if both pressure over the site and the limb is immobilised.

You should:

  • Bandage the area of the bite firmly
  • Use anything available if you have no bandages, eg tear up a shirt or singlet
  • Put a splint around the limb
  • Move the limb as little as possible
  • Seek medical help immediately
  • Do not wash the bite or attempt to catch/kill the snake.

References used for this topic page

More information:

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (Qld)
Snake bites

University of Sydney
Australian snake bites

Clinical care:

NSW Government Health
Snake bite and spider bite clinical management guideline 2013

Australian Resuscitation Council
Australian snake bite – guideline 9.4.1

Australian Resuscitation Council
Envenomation – pressure immobilisation technique guideline 9.4.8

Australian Venom Research Compendium
Snake bite – current treatments

St John Ambulance NSW
Managing a snake bite [PDF 202kb]

University of Adelaide
Clinical toxicology resources

Research & reviews:

Medical Journal of Australia
Snakebite in tropical Australia

World Health Organization (WHO)
Snake antivenoms

Fast facts:

Snake bite

  • Follow basic first aid for snake bite, even if you’re not sure if the snake was venomous.
  • Don’t wash the skin, venom traces may help identify the snake.
  • Bandage and splint the limb. Try to keep the person as still as possible while you get help.
  • Do not raise the limb.

Last update: 5th December, 2016