Snake season is here

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It’s that time of year again that we need to warn everyone to be vigilant for snakes!

We have already had multiple reported sightings in the local area and treated our first snake bite case of the season, little Lilly a Jack Russell X Mini Fox Terrier, in mid-October. It’s going to be a long and hot summer, so everyone needs to be prepared in order to keep pets safe – especially in homes around the Botanical Gardens, homes on large properties, and around the Blind Bight and Warneet areas.

Snakes like to hide in cool, damp, dark areas and come out to warm up and feed. Common areas around the house where they may be found include in stacked firewood, rubbish/junk piles, flowerbeds with heavy mulch, around ponds/drains/creeks, in shrubbery and in long grass.
It is very important to keep lawns mowed, especially in the summer months and to keep pet water bowls away from their bedding.

If you witness or suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, please seek veterinary attention immediately, even if they do not appear to be showing symptoms. Do not wait – their condition can deteriorate rapidly and lead to death. We have previously had pets unfortunately pass away in as little as 10-15minutes on the way to the clinic.

Signs of a snake bite in pets may include collapsing, twitching of the muscles, vomiting, dilated pupils and paralysis. Snake bites are common when the weather is warmer as this is when snakes are most active. In most cases, you will never find the site of the snake’s bite on your pet’s body.

Snake venom varies between different types of snake but contains toxins which damage body tissues and impair vital functions. The deadly venom attacks the nervous system and interferes with the body’s clotting mechanisms. Tiger snake venom will also cause massive muscle damage and some kidney damage.

Treatment for pets with snake bites varies depending on the severity of the effects. A severely affected animal will require treatment with intravenous fluids, supplemental oxygen, (often multiple) vials of anti-venom, intensive pain relief and hospitalisation over a few days.  Once they return home, recovery can take one week to a month depending on the severity and type of snake bite. Unfortunately, some animals will never be 100% again and may always experience muscle pain and weakness.

At South Cranbourne Veterinary Surgery, we keep anti-venom on hand at all times in case of such emergency. The anti-venom covers against venom from all types of snakes found in the local area so there is no need to identify the type of snake involved. Unfortunately, as antivenom is extremely expensive to produce, it is also very expensive to administer and you will need to decide whether to go ahead with antivenom treatment very quickly.

If you notice a snake on your property, do not approach it. You can call a licensed wildlife controller to relocate it for you. Local snake catchers include Neil Haesler (0418 130 728) and Barry Goldsmith (0408 067 062).

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