Snakes come out as weather heats up

Bendigo is headed for temperatures in the high twenties next week and with the warm weather also comes snakes.

Local snake catcher Chris Page from TZR Reptiles and Wildlife has already started to get calls, with a red-bellied black and an Eastern brown collected just recently.

“Now obviously the weather has warmed up they’re starting to come out of their brumation, wandering around getting their food and also looking for a mate,” he said.

“It’s breeding season so quite often you’ll get two of them together.”

The snake catcher said the reptiles aren’t any more aggressive at this time of year, but they are more alert.

He said the most important thing for people to do if they came across one was to not panic.

“What you need to do is keep an eye on it, keep your pets and family away and obviously if anyone else is around just warn them,” he said, urging people to keep a safe distance of at least 10 metres.

Mr Page is one of three licensed snake catchers in Bendigo and responds to calls across most of central Victoria, 24 hours a day.

His advice for someone who had been bitten by a snake was to stay calm.

“Sit down, call an ambulance and do your first aid,” he said.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service this month updated its advice following a new study looking into snakebites across the country.

The study prompted the service to reverse previous long-standing advice about the importance of identifying the colour and type of snake, citing advances in medication and dangers to people of staying in the area following an attack.

When it comes to pets, Bendigo Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr Max Tori said timing was critical.

“If you think your pet has been bitten, the most important thing is to call your vet and let them know you’re on your way,” he said.

“There’s not really anything you can do at home – just get to the vet as quick as possible.”

The animal hospital has already seen three pets bitten in the last week, with one sadly not recovering.

Signs to watch out for in dogs include collapse, vomiting, drooling and weakness in the back legs.

Cats tend to fare better than dogs when bitten by a snake, with dogs only having about 20 to 30 minutes to receive treatment. Cats on the other hand can take up to 12 hours to show symptoms.

For more information about symptoms and what to do if your pet has been bitten by a snake, visit the Bendigo Animal Hospital website.

Snakes are protected and it is illegal to capture, kill or harm them. 

Chris Page from TZR Reptiles and Wildlife can be contacted on 0423 627 145.

Royal Flying Doctor Service Do’s & Don’ts 

  • Do NOT wash the area of the bite or try to suck out the venom. It is extremely important to retain traces of venom for use with venom identification kits.
  • Do NOT incise or cut the bite, or apply a high tourniquet. Cutting or incising the bite won't help. High tourniquets are ineffective and can be fatal if released. 
  • Do bandage firmly, splint and immobilise to stop the spread of venom. All the major medical associations recommend slowing the spread of venom by placing a folded pad over the bite area and then applying a firm bandage. It should not stop blood flow to the limb or congest the veins. Only remove the bandage in a medical facility, as the release of pressure will cause a rapid flow of venom through the bloodstream. 
  • Do NOT allow the victim to walk or move their limbs. Use a splint or sling to minimise all limb movement. Put the patient on a stretcher or bring transportation to the patient. 
  • Do seek medical help immediately as the venom can cause severe damage to health or even death within a few hours.