Keeping snakes at bay from pets and loved ones

Keeping snakes at bay from pets and loved ones

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Article courtesy of RCA’s Evolve Summer 2015/16 Magazine This year, the news bulletins have been strident in warning pet owners about the dangers of snake bite to your furry friend.

In Victoria, tiger and brown snakes are responsible for most bites in domestic pets. Dogs will often try to chase or kill snakes resulting in snake bites usually to the dog's face and legs. Cats, being hunters and chasing anything that moves, are also quite susceptible to snake bites.

The type of reaction your pet has to a snake bite is determined by a number of factors: the type of snake, the amount of venom injected and the site of the snake bite.

Generally the closer the bite is to the heart the quicker the venom spreads to the rest of the body. In addition, at the beginning of summer, snakes' venom glands are fuller and their bites are much more severe.

The signs to look out for

  • Sudden weakness followed by collapse
  • Shaking or twitching of the muscles and difficulty blinking
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting and Paralysis
  • Blood in urine.

If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake seek veterinary help immediately.

The chances of recovery with early treatment - some pets make a recovery within 48 hours. If possible, you can apply a pressure bandage – a firm bandage over and around the bite site - to help slow the venom spreading to the heart. Do NOT wash the wound or apply a tourniquet.

Your vet can identify whether your animal has been bitten and the type of snake responsible via a blood and urine test.

Once the snake has been identified your vet can administer anti-venom.  Anti-venom is very expensive and can cost several thousand dollars, so prevention is definitely a preferable option to cure.

How to keep snakes at bay

  • Plug up any holes or gaps in windows, walls, floors or roofs. If this is done it is virtually impossible for a snake to enter the house.
  • Keep your yard tidy and clipped. Snakes love places they can hide and feel safe. If your garden is clean and open, hiding spots will be limited.
  • Learn about snakes in your area. Certain snakes will only be found in certain areas and not all of these will be dangerous. Contact your local wildlife/parks ranger for more info.
  • Remove sources of food and water. Make sure you have no vermin and don’t feed birds near your home. No food, less likelihood of snakes.
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