With Spring arriving just last week, New South Wales has begun heating up and just over the last few days, the state has seen an early increase of snake appearances. The weather has created the perfect environment for snakes to begin emerging from the hibernation they undertook throughout the cooler months. As a result, The Australian Reptile Park is calling for the public to exercise extreme caution when enjoying the incoming warmer weather.

Home to the world’s most venomous snakes, Australia sees approximately 3,000 snake bites occur per year, of which around 300 receive antivenom, and on average, one or two bites prove fatal. The Australian Reptile Park is the only zoo in Australia that milks venomous terrestrial snakes for their venom to help produce antivenom.

Calling on public awareness, bite prevention and safety, Australian Reptile Park’s Reptile Keeper Brandon Gifford says, “As it’s only just the beginning of Spring, there’s no better time than right now to brush up on your snake bite first aid!”

Brandon continued, “It’s important that all Australians know our slithery friends do not go out of their way to harm humans. Snake bites mostly occur when people are trying to catch or kill the snake, so if you don’t do either of those things you drastically reduce your chances of having a negative encounter with one of Australia’s venomous snakes.”

“Anyone who visits us here at the Park knows we spend as much time as possible educating people on snake safety. While the Australian Reptile Park saves approximately 300 lives each year through our antivenom program, experience tells us basic awareness and safety can also help save lives.” He concluded.

All households should keep grass areas around houses mowed and well maintained; also avoid piling up left over wood from winter or accumulating stick piles. Tin sheets or any household items like these that are piled up, can draw in heat providing a perfect man made habitat for snakes. These areas provide a safe house for snakes as they sit in stealth mode awaiting prey to feed, and if startled they will defend through biting.

Depending on the species of venomous snake, a bite could destroy blood cells, cause blood clots, or excessive bleeding and destroy tissue. If not correctly treated with first aid immediately, a fatality can be as quick as 30 minutes, depending on the amount of venom injected by the snake, toxicity level of the venom and the type of snake.

Basic first aid includes keeping the bite victim calm and immobile, applying a pressure-immobilisation bandage to the bite site on the entire limb, not just the bite area and seeking emergency medical assistance immediately by calling an ambulance or going directly to hospital.

“By applying the pressure-immobilisation bandage, venom cannot easily spread through the body, slowing down the envenomation process by giving more time for the bite victim to seek antivenom at hospital” added Brandon Gifford.

The Australian Reptile Park houses over 250 of the world’s most venomous snakes. The Australian species are milked fortnightly by the venom keepers, as part of the Park’s venom program for the production of antivenom. Some of Australia’s deadliest snakes milked as a part of the program including taipans, eastern brown snakes, king brown snakes, tiger snakes, death adders, and black snakes.