Snake bite is not an uncommon emergency for the pets in the warmer months of Western Sydney especially in the Schofields – Marsden Park area with the massive residential earth works.
Occasionally an owner will witness their dog being bitten by a snake. More often, an owner will find a dead or injured snake signifying that their pet has been exposed. The average time from bite to onset of clinical signs is 3 hours but can be delayed up to 18 hours. Once clinical signs occur, progression is rapid. Bite wounds are typically small and may be difficult to find. Bites most commonly occur on the lips, mouth, tongue, and webbing of paws. Pain at the bite wound may be transient, and swelling is typically not present.
Clinical signs can include depression, ascending weakness and paralysis, different pupil sizes, disorientation, respiratory depression, drooling, marked muscle tremors, incoordination, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Clinical signs in cats are primarily neurologic ie, weakness, incoordination and paralysis and may be accompanied by respiratory depression. Dogs are more likely to have bleeding abnormalities, such as anaemia, breakdown of red blood cells, anemia, and especially blood in the urine. Hypersalivation, vomiting, and fast heart rates are more common in dogs than cats.
Prompt medical intervention is imperative. Do not wait for clinical signs to develop before initiating therapy. The only definitive treatment is administration of the appropriate antivenin. Bringing the dead snake to the veterinary hospital and or at least taking a photograph of the snake on a smartphone will help the choice of antivenin.
Phone Quakers Hill Veterinary Hospital – 9626 9651 – on route to the surgery so that the staff are in readiness with the appropriate medical tests and treatments.
Tips to Snake-Proof your House and Garden
- Maintain a tidy garden – keep the lawn low in height and garden beds away from the exterior of the house. Ensure the wood piles are neatly staked to prevent snakes and rodents from sheltering. Discard rubbish, lawn clippings and mulch rather than keeping it in a pile, as the piles provide warmth and security for snakes. Minimise low shrubs and leafy bushes that provide the perfect habitat for sheltering snakes. Also, keep leaf litter to a minimum.
- Block cavities in wall structures – snakes love rock walls. They are a ready source of energy (reptiles sun themselves on rocks to warm up their cold blood and muscles), shelter (when they have had enough sun) and food (preying on the rodents and frogs which also shelter in the rocks). If you have a rock wall or other similar structure, block the holes and other cavities that slithering and scurrying creatures can hide in.
- Cover all holes leading into the house and garage – snakes love crawling into hiding spots such as roofs, underneath houses, garages etc. Make sure to keep doors closed and install screens on doors and windows. Block any holes in the ceiling and roof which might accommodate snakes.
- Minimising rats and mice – appropriate rodent traps will minimise rats and mice that attract feeding snakes. Baits may be used with caution in high or tight areas where dogs or cats cannot reach. Proper disposal of food scraps in covered bins will minimise the attraction of rats and mice
- Protecting birds – placing mesh or a similar covering around your chicken pens and aviaries will prevent snakes hunting your birds. Keeping a tidy pen will also prevent rodents from eating bird seed. /li>
Richie Gilbert of Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers says that snake repellers and oils sold by some manufacturers do not work to keep snakes from gardens and homes.