WITH the warmer weather well and truly setting in, pets around Bathurst are feeling the nasty bite of snakes as they slither their way out of hibernation.
Stewart Street Veterinary Hospital claim they are currently receiving about three cases of animal snake bites a week, while Bathurst Veterinary Hospital had a fatal incident two weeks.
Stewart Street’s Ann-Maree Sheader said pet owners need to keep the grass short at home to help prevent snakes making resident on a owner’s property.
“Any sort of scrub or low-lying grass or any areas that have a rubbish or wood pile are areas where snakes could go,” she said.
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“If you're out on a farm, livestock around the house will keep snakes away because of the frequent movement. Some people actually have sheep close to the house to keep frequent movement in the area.”
Ms Sheader said its important to take a pet straight to the vet if their animal has been bitten or they suspect they’ve been bitten.
“First thing to do is to contact your vet and let them know you are coming,” she said.
“Cats are a little bit more resilient then dogs.
“The most common thing we get with dogs is owners who suspect they’ve been bitten by a dog and sometimes the animal will let out a shriek, collapse and then walk around happily for one to two hours without any signs. That shriek is a good indicator that they’ve been bitten. Normally those animals have been brought in a little bit too late.”
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Many cases of bitten animals, especially dogs, have been on the neck or the front legs according to Bathurst Veterinary Hospital’s Tom Pritchard.
“Usually, they’re intrigued and go investigate,” he said.
“The unfortunate thing is they go with their noses resulting in about 80 per cent of cases are on their neck and their front legs.”
He said dogs react in different ways when they see snakes.
“Dogs are individuals. Some dogs don’t want anything to do with them and others, particularly terriers, will get in there and have a go at the snakes,” he said.
Snake venom affects the victim in there main ways: it affects the nerve system, affects the muscle system and affects the blood clotting time, increasing the rate the animal bleeds out.
However, not all bites are toxic.
“Some snakes will have a dry bite and some will have a full on bite with venom,” Ms Sheader said.
“The potency of the venom changes and the ability of the snake to deliver the venom also changes, depending on a number of things.”
She said anti-venom can cost anywhere from $1200 to $1500.
“It normally takes one or two anti-venom shots to suck out enough toxin to prevent an animal from dying,” she said.
“The problem is if they get a lot of toxin that effects the muscle, they need to be on IV fluids to make sure that venom doesn't affect their kidney function.”
What do you do if you find a snake at home:
If you find a snake in your house, make sure all people and pets are moved into other rooms and kept away until the situation is resolved. If you can safely do so, isolate the snake in the room you found it by closing the doors to the room and putting towels along the bottom of the doors. Do not approach the snake or try to contain it yourself. Call WIRES Rescue Line on 1300 094 737.
If you find an injured snake, phone the WIRES Rescue Line immediately so a trained rescuer can attend. Keep an eye on the snake from a safe distance. Keep all pets and people away until the situation is resolved.
If you find a snake in your backyard, monitor the situation, as snakes are normally only passing through a yard when they are sighted. Otherwise phone the WIRES Rescue Line and keep lawns short and the yard free of debris.