Don’t beat around the bush this snake season

Read time

Download high resolution image [JPEG 13MB]

Darling Downs residents are encouraged to be snake aware as the warmer weather brings more snake bites.

The region has seen 13 snake bites in local emergency departments in October 2022, which is 13 less than the same time last year.

In September 2022, there were 19 ED presentations for snake bites across Darling Downs hospitals, and four in August 2022.

Executive Director Rural Dr Christopher Cowling said it’s important to learn early, effective first-aid if you or a family member is bitten, especially if you’re bushwalking in a remote area.

“While snakes can be encountered any time of the year, we know that more people present to our emergency departments with snake bites during Spring and Summer,” Dr Cowling said.

“It’s a timely reminder for residents to be on the lookout for snakes, and the best advice is to leave them alone.

“If you do come across a snake, don’t try to touch it or pick it up, instead back away to a safe distance.”

After a snake bite or suspected snake bite, people should:

  • Check airway, breathing and circulation. If the patient has collapsed, start CPR immediately.
  • Call 000 for an ambulance to the emergency department of the nearest hospital. Treat any snake bite as an emergency, regardless of whether you think the snake was venomous or not.
  • Don’t attempt to drive yourself to hospital or walk. Sit or lie down, and stay as still as possible.
  • Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage as soon as possible. Apply a firm bandage over the bite site, and then cover the entire limb.
  • Immobilise the limb using a splint. Any rigid object may be used as a splint – e.g. spade, piece of wood or tree branch or rolled up newspapers.
  • Keep still and try to remain calm.

You should not wash venom off the skin, cut the bitten area, try to suck the venom out or use a tourniquet.

Dr Cowling is urging residents not to take any risks around the reptiles.

“If a snake needs to be relocated from your home, leave it to the professionals and call a snake catcher.”

The species most commonly recorded in Queensland as being the cause of snake bite presentations to hospitals are brown, black, tiger and taipan snakes, with the majority of cases being due to brown snakes.

More information on what you need to do if you get bitten by a snake can be found here: www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/what-to-do-if-you-get-bitten-by-a-snake