Snakes in Victoria: what to do if you see a snake, or are bitten

Eastern brown snake Australian

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted October 09, 2023

It is important to know what to do if you come into contact with a snake in the wild or on your property. Here's what to know. 

Spring is mating and feeding season for snakes, meaning they’re out and about and encounters with humans and pets become more common. Snakes may also become more prevalent in areas that have experienced periods of flooding or hot weather, or in new areas close to residential or commercial development where snakes are forced out of their natural habitat. 

While snakebite-related deaths in Australia are fairly uncommon (one to two per year), it is important to stay vigilant, know what to look out for, know what to do in the event you meet a snake, and understand how to maintain your property to keep snakes away.

The Eastern Brown Snake is the most encountered species of snake in Australia. Image: Getty.
The Mainland Tiger Snake, although known to be aggressive, would prefer to slither away than engage in conflict. Image: Getty.
The red-bellied black snake is one of the most frequently encountered in Victoria. Image: Alamy.
The Highland Copperhead Snake will likely only attack if it feels it is under threat. Image: Alamy.
The Eastern Small-eyed Snake is extremely venomous, and are mostly encountered at night. Image: Getty.
The Lowland Copperhead Snake is not commonly seen or known to be aggressive, however, they are still known to be incredibly venomous. Image: Getty.

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. 


walking dog on beach

It's important to know what to do if you or your pet come across a snake when you are out and about. Image: Getty

What to do if you see a snake in your home, car, or the wild

If you spot a snake in your home, the most important thing to do is not attempt to touch or get closer to a snake. Not only are some snakes extremely dangerous, but some are also protected species and harming them is illegal.

Call or contact the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on 136 186 who can assist with finding snake catchers in your area.

You may also want to speak to your local council, as they may be able to provide an expert to help quite quickly.

Snakes on your property

While most people don’t come face-to-face with venomous snakes on purpose, there are steps you can take to lessen the appeal of your property as a place to reside.

  • Keep your house tidy, with a spring clean and regular home maintenance - ensure no food is left outside and is stored away in closed containers to stop attraction of rodents or snakes
  • Keep your garden tidy by mowing the lawn and removing items snakes could hide in, such as toolboxes, toys, and clothing
  • Don’t fill pot plants with too much water, as this can attract snakes looking for a drink
  • Keep any walkways free of shrubbery and debris
  • Clean your gutters regularly
  • Keep firewood away from the home property.

What to do if you see a snake outside

If you’re looking to enjoy the great outdoors on a nature walk, keep in mind that you are now entering the snakes’ territory. There are some simple things you can do to reduce your risk of an unnecessary encounter: 

  • Keep a lookout, and make as much noise as possible when walking by stomping or stepping loudly to scare snakes away
  • Use a torch if walking at night
  • Wear protective clothing, including closed-toe footwear
  • Stay on open paths, particularly when bushwalking or with your dog – stay away from overgrown grass, rocky exteriors, and waterways
  • If you spot a snake, avoid, and keep your pet away.


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