A Conversation for The Eastern Tiger Snake
It's not as bad as all that.
meeply Started conversation Jan 17, 2009
Yes, it's a dangerous beastie, but it's not a two step.
Do tiger snakes really chase people?
The evidence isn't clear. From experience, they certainly give a good impression of doing so. But I think this is more of a bluff than an actual attack. I have never been chased farther than about 10 paces. Although they move quickly, they aren't particularly fast and you can easily out distance one at a brisk walk.
My crazy theory.
I notice this behavior mostly when I encounter one near the water. Although they are good swimmers, I think when you surprise them, they panic and momentarily forget. So they react as if you had cornered them against a wall.
Tiger snakes are highly venomous. They have a reservoir of venom and are able to control the amount released when they bite, so are capable of multiple, potentially lethal bites. But you certainly can't milk them like cows for days on end. I would be surprised if even the best producers are tapped as often as once a week.
Dead in seconds? I'm not familiar with the cited case, but I rather suspect this is an exaggeration, or due to a secondary cause. Perhaps a heart attack or allergic reaction? The fastest snakebite fatality story that I have heard was of a toddler who was struck multiple times by a taipan. In which, the child was unconcious after about 5 minutes, and probably died about 10 minutes after that.
Snake bite statistics vary from state to state, but there are some trends that are interesting to look at. The people at highest risk are actually the professionals, they have regular and intimate contact with large numbers of different snakes and accidents do happen. Of course if you are a professional you'll not be reading this, except to laugh at my errors.
For the rest of us, the group at most risk seems to be, intoxicated males, aged around 13-33, who are attempting to catch or kill a snake. Closely followed by non-intoxicated males, aged about 13-33, who are attempting to catch or kill a snake. Bites are typically to the hands and there is increased probability of multiple strikes.
Other risky behavior includes walking alone. Especially on a hot summer night (even worse if you don't have a torch). More especially if you are intoxicated or very young or elderly.
When you are walking in the Australian bush, ALWAYS WATCH where you put your feet. If you want to look around, STOP WALKING.
Wear sturdy shoes and trousers and pack a first aid kit. Travel with friends. If you see a snake, keep a respectful distance. If you think you are about to be attacked, don't run, either walk quickly away or if you're brave, don't move.
A walking stick is a useful thing to have, you can use it to test suspicious areas before you risk your foot. But don't try and hit a snake with it. As a last resort, use it to make a distraction while you make an exit.
What do I do if I get bitten?
Move as little as possible.
For a bite on a limb, apply a bandage firmly but not tightly to as much of the limb as possible (leave finger tips or toes exposed so you can check for circulation).
Immobilise the limb with a splint or sling.
For bites on other areas, apply pressure to the bite and surrounding area, but be careful not to restrict breathing.
It is much better if help comes to you, rather than you moving to seek help.
Don't try and catch or kill the snake.
Don't wash the bite. (traces of venom left on the skin or clothes are helpful to identify the snake)
Don't cut the bitten area.
Don't try and suck the venom out.
Don't worry if you can't identify the snake.
Don't chop off bits of yourself. (Seriously, I had a great uncle who was bitten on the finger. He quickly chopped his finger off with an axe and was rushed to the doctor. Not only was the snake not venomous to humans, but the bite wasn't deep enough to penetrate his heavily calloused skin).
And finally, don't panic. Snake venom isn't produced in such quantities that a snake can just waste it. You aren't a prey item. And unless you have harassed the snake, there is a chance (perhaps as high as 50%) that you will get away with a warning, and no venom will be injected.
Time for a pint I think. Cheers
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