Snake season is here

By Madeleine Byron

As the weather warms up so do the snakes, as the scaly reptiles begin to come out of hibernation.

Following the first snakebite for the season in August, Shepparton vets are warning pet owners of the dangers and to seek immediate medical assistance.

GV Vets co-owner and vet Frances Jenner said the red-bellied black snake, brown snake and tiger snake were prevalent in the Goulburn Valley.

“Last year from October through to April we treated 34 animals with anti-venom,” she said.

“As soon as we get that first bit of warm weather snakes are on the move.”

Dr Jenner said prevention and immediate action was the key to pet survival.  

“Being aware while out walking, especially around waterways, and consider keeping pets on leads while out and about,” she said.

“But the biggest prevention is to tidy up that winter wood pile in the backyard.”

Snakebite symptoms include weakness in the legs, shaking or twitching of the muscles, vomiting and dilated pupils.

“Once an animal is bitten they experience paralysis, which can affect their breathing and they may become lethargic,” Dr Jenner said.

DELWP regional manager environmental compliance Nathan Stamkos said most snakebites occurred when people tried to capture or kill a snake.

“If your dog or cat encounters a snake, the best course of action is to remove your pet from the area or tie it up while the snake passes,” Mr Stamkos said.

He said snakes played an important role in our ecosystem and were protected under the Wildlife Act 1975.

“It is illegal to capture, harm, or kill them. Reports of people wilfully destroying protected wildlife will be investigated accordingly,” Mr Stamkos said.

Five top tips for snake bite prevention:

- When left alone, snakes present little or no danger to people.

- If you see a snake, keep clam and move yourself and anyone with you (including pets) away from the area.

- Don’t attempt to capture or harm snakes.

- Maintain lawns and clean up around your house, as snakes are attracted to shelter such as piles of rocks and timber, sheets of metal, and building materials.

- Undertake first-aid training and ensure your first aid kit contains several compression bandages. If someone is bitten, call 000 immediately.