It is important to be aware that snakes are already about and are stirring. If you and your pet enjoy walking through the bush, if you live a rural or semi-rural area, or live close to creeks or dams, check that the “stick” lying on the ground is actually a stick.
Signs are reliant on the amount of venom that the animal has had injected into its system. Our Tasmanian snakes, of which we have 3 – the Tiger snake, Copperhead and Whip snake, the first two of which can give a fatal bite and have a toxin that is designed to paralyse its prey (usually frogs, rodents, birds, small mammals and small reptiles).
Clinical signs of snake bite include a rapidly ascending paralysis, dilated unresponsive pupils, vomiting, blood breakdown leading to pale gums and blood in urine and DEATH.
Death can be as rapid as 15-30 minutes if the animal has had a bite in an area with a good blood supply, for eg the face when a dog tries to bite the snake.
If your pet is bitten it will require immediate treatment. Antivenom is very expensive and if your pet has received a large dose of venom, it may not be enough.
If you live in a snake prone area remember vigilance is the most important thing. Keep your pet clear of snakes. This can be achieved by keeping grass cut in and around yards (snakes do not like crossing cleared areas as it makes them susceptible to predation by birds). As snakes tend to like to live near water supplies (creeks, dams and swampy land as this is close to their favourite food supply primarily frogs and rodents) keep dogs away from these areas.
Snakes will often come into yards with ponds or even dog water bowls (for a drink).
Snakes do not like excessive vibration, so if you see one move around it or bang on the path until the snake moves away. Remember the snake may be more scared of you, than you are of it. (This is especially true of the copperhead).