Snakes are on the move again and they are all more aggressive at this time of year. Brown snakes, tiger snakes and black snakes are the most important venomous snakes in this area so watch out for the following symptoms. If you think your furry pal might have been bitten, seek prompt attention from your veterinarian.

BROWN snake. Weakness, collapse and initial hindquarter paralysis which progresses to forequarter paralysis are classical symptoms of brown snake bite. The animal may make attempts to move, which do not appear to have any strength, and collapse again. If untreated paralysis of the respiratory muscles causes respiratory failure and death. There may be paralysis and lolling of the tongue and also the throat muscles, leading to voice loss, however before paralysis sets in the animal may initially appear excited, distressed and panting. Vomiting, especially with blood in it, is a poor prognostic sign and indicates urgency.

TIGER snake. The signs are similar to that of brown snake bite but often with more excitement, more chance of vomiting and being abnormally twitchy and sensitive to stimulation. It is often impossible to distinguish clinically between brown snake and tiger snake poisoning, but it is of critical importance as far as treatment goes because brown snake antivenom does not help tiger snake bite, and vice versa.

BLACK snake. The neurotoxic (nerve affecting) effects of black snake bite are much less pronounced. Black snake venom affects the blood and tissues more severely. The most important signs are weakness with pale mucous membranes, sometime haemorrhages in vomit or diarrhoea and a lesser degree of paralysis and incoordination.

TREATMENT. In all cases of snakebite the correct antivenom in adequate dosage (the dose is not dependent on animal size but on the amount of venom injected) gives an excellent chance of recovery if administered in time. Supportive treatment includes corticosteroids, antibiotics (snakes mouths are dirty), intravenous drips, hot water beds etc.


Thanks to the West Quennbeyan Veterinary Hospital for this information.

Footnote: Most snakebites to humans occur when people are trying to either catch or kill a snake. Snakes are a protected species.

This page 1999, Paul Myers Consulting Pty Ltd and Queanbeyan & District Dog Training Club

Original document Queanbeyan & District Dog Training Club

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