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Poisonous Snake Bite First Aid Procedures

Learn poisonous snake bite first aid procedures. It covers snake bite symptoms and snake bite treatment

In this article, you will learn poisonous snake bite first aid procedures. It covers snake bite symptoms and snake bite treatment. This is life-saving information if you live in or visit a country with poisonous snakes.

It also talks about dog snake bite symptoms and treatment, and snake bite on cats. Finally, it gives specific information on some of the most poisonous snakes in the world.

Prevention of Snake Bites

Prevention is always the best cure, and most poisonous snake bites are easy to avoid.

As with any animal, stay away from them. Most will run away before you know they are there anyway. If you do come across one, stand still and back away. Give it plenty of room to escape. Do not tease or try to move it. That is asking for trouble.

Although each snake likes slightly different conditions, most like to hide. Watch out in tall grass, piles of wood or rocks, piles of leaves, etc.

Snakes are cold-blooded so need to warm in the sun. Be extra careful when hiking on a sunny but cool day. This is when snakes are most likely to be sunbathing in the open.

Snake Bite Protection

If working in snake territory, wear protective clothing. Long pants, tall boots, and leather gloves are good.

You can even get special snake bite proof pants and snake bite proof boots. Get your snake bite proof clothing here.

Poisonous Snake Bite Symptoms

Different snakes can present different symptoms. In general, you will get some or all the following:

  • ​Two puncture marks
  • ​ Blurred vision
  • ​ Breathing difficulty, sometimes extreme
  • ​ Local swelling and redness
  • ​ Local pain, often severe
  • ​ Nausea and vomiting
  • ​ Numbness or tingling
  • ​ Salivation
  • ​ Sweating

*Local refers to being near/around the bite site.

Snake Bite Treatment

As with all life-threatening first aid situations, follow DRABC. Read a detailed article about DRABC here.

Besides DRABC, specific first aid treatment for snake bites is as follows:

  • ​Record the time of bite
  • ​ *Identify the snake if possible
  • ​ Keep the victim calm and and as still as possible
  • ​ Remove constricting clothing and jewelry
  • ​ Administer antivenin if available
  • ​ Get to a hospital ASAP

*Only do this if it is safe. Don't try to hunt it down. Take a picture from a safe distance if possible.


  • ​Apply a cold compress
  • ​ Apply a tourniquet
  • ​ Cut the snake bite
  • ​ Give medication (unless directed by a medical professional)
  • ​ Pump or suck the venom out
  • ​ Raise the bite

If you live or work close to poisonous snakes it is wise to have a snake bite first aid kit. Ensure you have snake bite antivenin for the snakes you are most likely to come in contact with.

Pressure Immobilization Technique

The pressure immobilization technique is not only for treating snake bites. Use can use it for most venomous bites and stings. The idea is to slow the venom’s movement into the circulatory system. This buys time until the arrival of advanced medical care.

When applying the pressure immobilization technique, keep the patient as still as possible. Especially the site of the venomous snake bite. Do not elevate the wound.

In general, only apply the pressure immobilization technique for:

  • ​Australian snakes, all species
  • ​ Blue-ringed octopus
  • ​ Conus
  • ​ Funnel-web spiders
  • ​If possible, use an elastic roller bandage
  • ​ Bandage upwards from the lower part of the bitten or stung limb, and continue up as high as possible. Each wrap should overlap the last.
  • ​ Ensure the bandage does not impair perfusion (blood flow)
  • ​ Mark the location of the bite on the bandage
  • ​ Immobilize the limb
  • ​ Check perfusion often as continued swelling may impair it

Note: Do not bandage bites/stings to the head or torso. Keep patient still and seek medical care ASAP.

Non-Poisonous Snake Bites

This article focuses on poisonous snake bites, but I want to touch on non-poisonous snake bites too.

The physical symptoms will be the same:

  • 2 puncture wounds
  • ​ Local swelling and redness
  • ​ Local pain

You will not normally get the other symptoms (vomiting, blurred vision, etc).

Treat a non-venomous snake wound as a puncture wound. If you have any doubt, treat the snake bite as venomous!

The basic steps for treating a non-venomous snake wound are:

  • ​Apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding
  • ​ Clean the wound with mild soap and clean water
  • ​ Apply a topical antiseptic such as Povidone Iodine
  • ​ Cover the wound with a sterile bandage
  • ​ See a doctor for follow-up asap. You may need antibiotics.

Snake Bite on Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats may try to play with or kill snakes. This often results in them getting bit.

Snake Bite Dog Symptoms

Symptoms of a snake bite in dogs are like those on humans, but the onset will be faster since they are smaller. In general, the smaller the dog, the less chance of survival it will have. Following this logic, a cat snake bite is even more lethal.

Look for the following symptoms:

  • ​Blood in urine
  • ​ Collapse
  • ​ Dilated pupils
  • ​ Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • ​ Muscle spasm
  • ​ Paralysis
  • ​ Sudden weakness
  • ​ Vomiting

Cat and Dog Snake Bite Treatment

The treatment for snake bites on animals is the same as for humans. The only difference is to go to a vet instead of a hospital.

Carry your pet wherever it needs to go and get antivenin as quickly as possible.

If possible, you can use the pressure immobilization technique, e.g., for a snake bite on dog leg.

Whether it is a rattlesnake bite on a dog or some other species, the main thing is to keep the animal still. Get to a vet and give it some snake bite antivenom ASAP.

Specific Snake Bite Information

There are many types of snakes around the world. Here we will go over some of the most poisonous ones.

The general treatment is the same for all poisonous snakes. The difference is the type of antivenin. This is why it is important to identify the type of snake bite. Study the pictures.

Note: If someone gets bitten and did not identify the type of snake, do not bother trying to find out. Get to a hospital. They have tests to discover the type of venom.

Black Mamba Bite First Aid

This fast striking snake is in many parts of Africa. Unlike other Mamba species, the Black Mamba is not primarily a tree dweller. Except in the jungle, it prefers rocky crevices, scrub, abandoned burrows, etc.

It is not as aggressive as most people are lead to believe, but I would definitely not mess with it.

Black Mamba bite symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • ​ Confusion
  • ​ Convulsions
  • ​ Distorted vision
  • ​ Fever
  • ​ Lack of muscle control
  • ​ Local pain
  • ​ Nausea and vomiting
  • ​ Pallor
  • ​ Paralysis
  • ​ Respiratory failure
  • ​ Salivation and foaming of the mouth
  • ​ Shock
  • ​ Tingling in extremities
  • ​ Tingling in mouth

Blue Krait Bite First Aid

This nocturnal snake is from South East Asia. They are timid most of the time but are highly venomous. They like to hang around water and can grow up to 1m long.

Blue Krait bite symptoms include:

  • ​Cramps
  • ​ Muscle paralysis
  • ​ Paralysis
  • ​ Spasms
  • ​ Tremors​

Copperhead Bite First Aid

Copperheads are not aggressive, but if you step on one it will react. They are common in the Eastern states of North America. You will find them among rocks, in the woods, or near water sources.

There are also Copperheads in Australia, but they are a different species.

Copperhead bite symptoms include:

  • Change in skin color
  • ​ Low blood pressure
  • ​ Pain
  • ​ Shock
  • ​ Weakness

Coral Snake Bite First Aid

Coral snakes are common in the south of the US. They like to hide in leaf piles, so don't step or kick one while you are walking!

The symptoms of Coral Snake bites are often delayed by hours.

Coral Snake bite symptoms include:

  • ​Change in skin color
  • ​ Convulsions
  • ​ Difficulty swallowing
  • ​ Drooping eyelids
  • ​ Headache
  • ​ Pain
  • ​ Paralysis
  • ​ Shock
  • ​ Stomach pain

Death Adder Bite First Aid

The Death Adder is in Australia and New Guinea. It likes to hide among loose leaf litter and debris and is quite hard to see, especially if not keeping an eye out for one.

Deathadder bite symptoms include:

  • Drooping eyelids
  • ​ Muscle weakness
  • ​ Nausea
  • ​ Paralysis
  • ​ Respiratory failure
  • ​ Speech impairment

Eastern Brown Snake Bite First Aid

This venomous snake makes its home in the major population centers of Australia. It is fast and may chase you. Luckily, less than half their bites contain venom, and they only react to movement. If you encounter one, stand very still.

Eastern Brown Snake bite symptoms include:

  • ​Cardiac arrest
  • ​ Collapse
  • ​ Convulsions
  • ​ Diarrhea
  • ​ Dizziness
  • ​ Paralysis
  • ​ Renal failure

Philippines Cobra Bite First Aid

This snake has the most poisonous venom of all the cobra's, and it can spit up to 3 meters. It lives almost anywhere, especially near water.

Philippines Cobra bite symptoms include:

  • ​Abdominal pain
  • ​ Cardiac failure
  • ​ Convulsions
  • ​ Diarrhea
  • ​ Dizziness
  • ​ Headache
  • ​ Nausea
  • ​ Respiratory failure
  • ​ Vomiting

Rattlesnake Bite First Aid

Rattlesnakes are one of the most common poisonous snakes in North America. They are also the largest of the poisonous snakes. They like to sunbathe so watch for them on top of rocks, logs, and in open areas.

If you hear the rattle of a rattlesnake, back away. It is your warning!

Rattlesnake bite symptoms include:

  • ​Drooping eyelids
  • ​ Muscle fatigue
  • ​ Low blood pressure
  • ​ Severe pain
  • ​ Thirst
  • ​ Tiredness

Sea Snake Bite First Aid

Can a snake bite in water? Yes, it can. And all sea/water snakes are very poisonous. In fact, some think the most venomous snake in the world is the Belcher's Sea Snake from SE Asia and Northern Australia.

The water moccasin is a common water-snake in the southeastern states of the US. They are commonly called a Cottonmouth snake.

Cottonmouth bite symptoms include:

  • ​Change in skin color
  • ​ Low blood pressure
  • ​ Pain
  • ​ Shock
  • ​ Weakness 

Taipan Bite First Aid

There are 3 sub-species of Taipan, all found in Australia. The Coastal Taipan is like the Australian version of the Black Mamba. It has similar aggressive behavior and toxicity.

The Inland Taipan is more venomous but not as aggressive as its coastal relative. This competes with the Belcher's Sea Snake as most venomous snake in the world.

The 3rd is the Central Ranges Taipan which was only discovered in 2007.

Inland Taipan bite symptoms include:

  • ​Abdominal pain
  • ​ Collapse
  • ​ Headache
  • ​ Nausea
  • ​ Paralysis
  • ​ Vomiting

Tiger Snake Bite First Aid

Tiger Snakes are common near water in Australia. They will often run from loud noises but will attack if cornered.

Tiger Snake bite symptoms include:

  • Foot pain
  • ​ Neck pain
  • ​ Tingling
  • ​ Numbness
  • ​ Sweating
  • ​ Reparatory failure
  • ​ Paralysis

Viper Snake Bite First Aid

Vipers are all over the world, but the most poisonous ones are in Asia. They are most active at night and after rain. They anger easily which make them especially dangerous.

Viper bite symptoms include:

  • ​Bleeding from the gums
  • ​ Delayed cardiac failure
  • ​ Delayed respiratory failure
  • ​ Facial swelling
  • ​ Local blistering
  • ​ Local pain
  • ​ Local swelling
  • ​ Low blood pressure Necrosis
  • ​ Vomiting

Snake Bite First Aid Conclusion

There are many venomous snakes in the world and most people will come across one every now and again. If you do, remember to stay still and back away slowly. Give it plenty of room to escape and it will have no reason to attack you.

General first aid for snake bites is not complicated. Keep the victim still and get them some snake bite antivenin ASAP. For Australian snake bites, use the pressure immobilization technique.

Did you find this article about treatment for a snake bite useful? If so, please share it with your friends.

Article by Sam Fury

Sam Fury 3 png
Sam Fury 3 png

Sam Fury is the creator and owner of the Survival Fitness Plan.

He has had a passion for martial arts and outdoor pursuits since he was a young boy growing up in Australia.

As a young adult he joined the military and studied outdoor leadership in college. After that, to further his skills, Sam started traveling to learn from the best in the world in various fields related to the Survival Fitness Plan including various martial arts in China, SE Asia and Brazil, Parkour in Singapore, Surf Life Saving in Australia, and others. 

These days, he still enjoys learning new things, traveling and sharing what he has learned via the Survival Fitness Plan. 

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