Pest Guides

How to Treat Snake Bites

Do’s and Don’ts of Treating Snake Bites

Symptoms usually manifest themselves reasonably soon after a snake bite so observation of the victim is extremely important. If no symptoms have occurred within less than half an hour of the snake bite, then indications would be that it was not a venomous snake; it failed to inject any venom or the snake was very old and had little or no venom left.

DO:

  • Try to identify the snake; colour, size, shape of head, attacking method are all useful
  • Loosen the victim’s clothing and, if necessary, move them in to the shade
  • Keep the victim calm and still; movement will increase blood flow and transport the venom to the heart much faster
  • Immobilise the limb but do NOT restrict blood flow unless you are certain the bite was from a snake that delivers neurotoxic venom
  • Clean and dress the wound being careful not to apply pressure and cause bruising
  • Be prepared to administer CPR if necessary
  • Get the victim to a hospital as soon as possible

DO NOT:

While there can be differences of opinion as to what we should do for snake bites the consensus of opinion as to what not to do is reasonably consistent:

  • Allow the victim to exercise or stress themselves
  • Cut the snake bite or attempt to suck the venom out
  • Give the victim anything to eat or drink, especially alcohol
  • Use potassium permanganate crystals or solution near or on the bite wound
  • Use soapy water round the bite wound
  • Leave pressure bandages on too long
  • Leave the victim alone
  • Apply ice to the wound
  • Soak the affected limb in any solutions

Rentokil does not offer a nationwide service to get rid of snakes, but your local Yellow Pages will be able to provide you with details of an operator who specialises in snake control and removal.