How To Provide First Aid For A Snake Bite In Australia

Avoid snake bites and learn how to provide emergency treatment with our snake bite survival guide. 

Snake bite first aid recommendations vary around the world according to the type of snake involved. Australia is home to all of the world's 10 most venomous snakes, fortunately for us they all require the same type of first aid treatment so this guide is valid right across the country.



The absolute best treatment for a snake bite is to avoid getting bitten in the first place, so here are a few tips you can use to avoid getting into a situation where you need to enact your first aid plan.


1: Don't touch or try to handle a snake

  • Snakes will become defensive if you try to move or harm them and this is the leading cause of snake bites in Australia.


2: If you spot a snake out in the bush

  •  Keep your distance and move slowly in the opposite direction.


3: If you spot a snake at your home that is a danger to your pets or family 

  • Keep a safe distance away from the snake and remove your pets from the area

  • Try to keep track of where the snake is as long as it is safe to do so

  • Call a professional snake catcher who will come and move it to a suitable location.


4: Wear protective clothing when working in high risk environments

  • Thick leather gloves

  • Leather boots

  • Thick long pants

  • Gaiters


5: Keep clear of likely hiding places for snakes when possible

  • Tall grass

  • Piles of leaves

  • Thick bushes

  • It's a great idea to clear these things around your house so that snakes aren't tempted to move in.


6: Let the snakes know you are there

  • Snakes will generally try their best to avoid contact with humans if possible, they will usually only attack if they are surprised or cornered.

  • Make noise with your feet so the snakes can hear you coming and get out of your way.


First Aid


The key to effective snake bite first aid is to be prepared before it happens. Make sure you have practiced what you will do in the event of a snake bite, you can do this with a friend and you should even practice on yourself as you may well be alone when it happens.


You will also need to make sure you have a high quality snake bite first aid kit handy whenever you are in an area where snakes might be present. You can improvise if you don't have a snake bite kit but it won't be as effective as using the right equipment.


1: Keep The Victim as Still As Possible

  • Venom travels through the lymphatic system and this can only happen if the victim is moving.

  • The snake will usually try to leave the area quickly to avoid further danger so running away is generally not required. 


2: Call 000 or 112 for an ambulance

  • Some snake bites can be “Dry Bites” with no venom injected but you should treat all snake bites as serious until proven otherwise at the hospital.

  • If you have no way to communicate with emergency services then you should complete the rest of the steps before going for help.


3: Do NOT Wash the area or attempt to suck out the venom

  • Sucking out venom is an old wives tale that has been proven to be ineffective and can actually cause more harm.

  • There is no need to wash the bite site and leaving it alone can sometimes aid in identifying the snake species later on at the hospital.


4: Apply A Compression Bandage

  • Firmly wrap the entire affected limb from bottom to top

    • From the toes to the groin for a leg

    • From the fingers to the armpit for an arm

  • Ideally your kit should have snake bite bandages with a tension indicator which will show you exactly how tight to wrap the bandage

    • If you don't have these then you should wrap it about as tight as you would a sprained ankle.

    • DON’T wrap it so tight as to cut off the circulation

    • You can improvise by cutting clothing or fabric into strips to use as makeshift bandages if none are available

  • If you can do it, it is a good idea to mark the site of the snake bite and the time it occured on the bandage


5: Immobilise the affected area

  • Splint the affected limb if possible to prevent any movement

  • Keep the entire limb as still as possible and DON'T try to elevate it


6: Reassure the Victim and keep them calm until help arrives

  • If the victim becomes stressed then they are much more likely to end up moving around and causing the venom to spread rapidly.

    • Calm them down by telling them that nearly all snake bite victims make a full recovery when the anti-venom is administered

    • Explain that help is on the way. You can keep them updated with how far away the ambulance is and let them know that they will be in hospital with the anti-venom very soon

  • Stay in contact with emergency services until they arrive and keep them updated on the victims condition


Bonus Tips


1: Snake bites can sometimes be hard to detect

  • You may not feel them straight away. So if you are in an area likely to contain snakes and you develop snake bite symptoms you should treat it as a snake bite and get help quickly.

2: Symptoms can take a while to show up

  • They can vary from person to person so even if you think you have had a dry bite, you should always seek medical attention.

  • Here are a few of the common symptoms to look out for:

    • Puncture marks or small scratches

    • Burning or itching at the bite site

    • Headache

    • Excessive sweating

    • Blurry vision

    • Shortness of breath

    • Nausea or vomiting

    • Bleeding

    • Abnormal heart rhythm


3: Carry a snake bite specific first aid kit



  • Ideally it should have snake bite indicator bandages that make it very simple for anybody to apply them at the correct tension. 

  • Make sure you keep one at home, in the car and in your backpack when venturing out into the bush.

  • Having a seperate kit just for snake bites makes sure it will be easy to find when needed and you won't have to go searching through all your gear to find what you need.

3: If the bite is on the torso, head or neck

  • In this case there is no effective way to apply a compression bandage
  • You should focus on immobilisation and getting to help as quickly as possible
  • It is likely you will have less time before symptoms start to show


We have sourced the best possible kits which can be found here 



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