With the arrival of spring, snakes are posing a greater threat to pets as the warmer weather and dryer conditions put an end to their winter hibernation. Snakes are beautiful, peaceful creatures….they are only dangerous if scared…like the rest of us!

There are three types of venomous snakes that may be found in the Canberra area:

  • brown snakes which are widespread, usually found in open country
  • tiger snakes are usually found on river flats. There are lots on the Bungendore flats
  • black snakes including red belly black snakes. Red bellies are usually river dwellers, so are found along the creeks and rivers. Black snakes are a bit more widespread

The ACT veterinary community is urging pet owners to take precautions to prevent deadly encounters with snakes when venturing outside with their pets. Snakes tend to be their most active towards the end of the day. Snake bites tend to occur in the late afternoon or early evening. Snakes also tend to be attracted to rodents and rubbish to hide under.

Dog owners should avoid snake prone areas, particularly if they are walking their dog at the end of the day. Snakes can also venture into backyards and over the spring and summer months even city dogs and cats can be at risk. Pet owners need to be aware of the signs of a snake bite as owners may not actually see their dog or cat being bitten.

Very often when we are presented with a dog that we suspect that has been bitten, we don’t know what snake they are bitten by! Dogs bitten by tiger snakes, usually die before they get to the vet. With black and brown you have a bit more time…

Symptoms can vary with different snakes but sudden onset of seizures, vomiting, weakness in the limbs and inability to move may be observed. Soon after the symptoms occur, the animal may collapse with laboured breathing.

Although snake bites can be deadly, rapid treatment with the appropriate anti-venom can be a very effective treatment if done quickly.

If you spot any of these symptoms in your pet or even suspect a snake bite, quickly call the vet hospital so that we can be prepared for your arrival.

And remember, snakes left undisturbed will not disturb you!