Types of snakes found in Victoria
Like bees, snakes don’t go out of their way to bite or attack, and if they do, it is usually as a defensive reaction or retaliation over a perceived threat. Realistically, snakes are more likely to try and avoid you. Knowing the types of snakes that you may encounter can assist in your best course of action.
Snakes are most likely found hiding near a watery area such as a river, dam, or floodwater, or seeking shelter in a shed, home, high grassy area or dwelling.
Over 150 venomous snake breeds can be found across the country. Five of the most dangerous snakes found in Victoria are:
Mainland Tiger Snake
Causing fatal bites if left untreated, the mainland tiger snake hails its name from its tiger print scales and the fact that they can be found on the ‘mainland’ in metropolitan Melbourne, as well as the south-east coast of Australia.
Eastern Brown Snake
Also known as the common Brown Snake, these are responsible for most snake-related deaths Down Under. These reptiles are mainly found across the east side of Australia, with a bite causing progressive paralysis and even death within an hour.
Red-bellied Black Snake
One of the most commonly seen snakes in Victoria, the Red-bellied Black Snake contains venom, however, no deaths have been registered from this type of snake as they are not aggressive in nature. They can be found in urban forests, bushland and woodland areas of Melbourne and eastern Victoria.
Highland Copperhead Snake, Lowland Copperhead Snake
Found in cold rainfall regions, the Copperhead Snake can be found in southern Victoria (Lowland) and north-eastern Victoria (Highland). While they prefer to avoid humans, their venom can be fatal without emergency medical assistance.
Eastern Small-eyed Snake
These snakes are found in regional Victoria, from the far east to the outer west and south. Nocturnal in nature, their venom is extremely venomous, however, no deaths from the Eastern Small-eyed Snake have been recorded in Victoria.
What to do if you get bitten by a snake
Though Australia has a formidable reputation for its venomous wildlife, the hype isn’t exactly justified, as snakebites are still rare. It is best to stay alert, but not alarmed.
However, if you or your companion are bitten, it's important to know how to respond. Contrary to what you may see in movies, ‘sucking out the venom’ can do more harm than good, and is not recommended by First Aid respondents.
It is imperative that you know First Aid basics for snake bites should you, your pet, or someone you are with fall victim to a snake bite.
There are two types of snake bites: venomous, which can be potentially fatal, and dry snake bites, which cause pain and swelling.
St John’s Ambulance Victoria advises to immediately call emergency services on 000 whether it is venomous or not, and apply First Aid pressure immobilisation to slow the spread of venom in the body.
According to St. John’s, when a person is bitten by a snake, if you cannot get to a hospital, while waiting for an ambulance, you should do the following:
Follow the ‘DRSABCD’ – Danger, response, send for help, airway check, breathing, and if not breathing, commence CPR and use a defibrillator if available:
- Lay the person down and try to calm them
- Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage around the bite. This aims to stop the movement of venom in the bloodstream
- Continue to add a firm, heavy elasticised roller bandage on the limb – if bitten on the arm, this would be starting on the fingers and rolling down, if on the leg, start at the toes
- Wrap the bandage past the snakebite and as far up the limb as possible. Add a splint if available
- Stay as still as possible to minimise circulation
- Observe and record details of the bite
- Wait calmly until medical assistance arrives.
If you pet is bitten, take them immediately to a veterinary hospital – even if they are not yet showing signs of distress.