SNAKE BITE ………..WHAT TO DO!

Thailand has a wide variety of wildlife, including snakes. Living here, all of us will come into contact with these reptiles at some point .There are both venomous and non-venomous snakes here and in these articles I hope to tell you more about them.

Many people have a deep-seated fear of snakes and believe that the only good snake is a dead one.I find this very sad as they are beautiful, fascinating creatures.The English author Rudyard Kipling did little to enhance the reputation of snakes in his famous novel The Jungle Book.

Kipling told the story of Rikki Tikki Tavi, a young mongoose who had a life and death battle with Nag and Nagaina, two king cobras.

The cobras were depicted as being cunning and evil , planning to wipe out a British family who were living in a bungalow on their territory. Of course this is pure fiction, albeit great entertainment. Snakes go to great lengths to avoid contact with humans.

Nearly all cases of snakebite result from standing on a snake or getting too close and leaving the snake feeling threatened. ie the snake is defending itself , not making an unprovoked attack. Snakes are deaf but very sensitive to  vibration and will feel you coming long before you can see them.

If confronted by a snake in the wild, just slowly retreat and let it go about its business. You should NEVER pick up a snake even if you think you’re certain it is harmless. It’s easy to make a mistake and it could have serious consequences.

Waglers’s Pit Viper (Temple Viper)

However, when a snake enters your home it is another matter. If it is allowed to disappear and conceal itself it could well pose a serious threat. There is little alternative but to kill it, unless you can safely shepherd it back outdoors or capture it. Always err on the side of caution.

But what should you do if the unthinkable happens and you are bitten ? I remember watching many westerns when I was young and in the movie someone gets bitten by a rattlesnake. The “hero” opens up the bite with a knife then sucks the poison out !

Not only does this not work it can also result in serious infection.Not from the knife but bacteria in the saliva. Applying a tournacade is another widely-held.procedure but this can often result in loss of a limb, assuming you survive the envenomation.

It is essential that the victim does not eat or drink or take any medication for the pain, eg paracetamol. The wound should not be washed as it would remove traces of venom which could help identify the snake. Ice also should NOT be applied.

The dangerous banded krait.

Time should not be wasted trying to kill or capture the snake. So what should you do if you are bitten by a snake ?

The MOST important thing is to stay calm. I know this sounds ridiculous but if you panic or get agitated the heart rate increases and sends the venom more quickly around the body. Contact emergency services IMMEDIATELY, do not wait for symptoms to develop.

Try to take a picture of the snake or make a mental note of its description, length, girth and colour. Try to keep the affected area below the level of the heart . You can apply a bandage but make sure you can push one finger under the bandage.

Apply pressure with your hand whilst awaiting for a bandage to be applied. If a limb has been bitten, try to apply a splint to immobilize it. Try to avoid unnecessary movement and remember that MOST snakebites are NOT fatal. Get to hospital asap to receive anti-venom.

Of course prevention is better than cure and over the next few weeks I will be featuring a number of snakes that are commonly found in Thailand . Hopefully this will help to reduce the risk of coming into contact with the venomous ones or at least aid in recognizing them.

 

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