Pet owners in Melbourne are being warned to "be vigilant" after a dog was bitten by a snake while visiting a popular park with her family.
At first, the culprit was believed to be a deadly brown snake, but a vet confirmed it was likely a venomous copperhead — often found in southern Victoria.
Chilli's owner Darren Ryder said he'd been visiting Albert Park Lake in Melbourne's inner west for the past 20 years and had never seen a snake in the area. He was visiting with his kids on Sunday when the two-year-old staffie was bitten.
A warning for other pet owners has since been shared across community groups on Facebook with Mr Ryder confirming Chilli received treatment from a vet. The park is often visited by families with young children and pets.
"Not out of the woods yet but the anti-venom is working," he wrote in a post shared online. "Our not-so-little Staffy. Be vigilant guys," he warned.
Dog became lethargic after snake bite
Mr Ryder said he first noticed something was off as they were heading home. Chilli "became really lethargic" and was "dropping in the backend," he told Neil Mitchell on 3AW Melbourne radio.
"I brought her home and she was feeling off, I actually thought she had been baited by someone," he explained. "We sat out the back and monitored her for a while and she progressively just got worse, so we took her to the vet who beleived she'd been bitten by a snake."
What to do if you suspect your pet's been bitten
Mr Rydner said Chilli is recovering well thanks to early treatment from a vet, which is recommended by the RSPCA.
"If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake you should keep them calm and quiet and take them to a vet immediately," they advise on their website. "The chances of recovery are much greater if your pet is treated early, with some pets making a recovery within 48 hours."
While less potent than the venom from a brown or tiger snake, a bite from a copperhead snake can still cause harm. The tiger and brown snakes are responsible for most of the snake bites in domestic pets, according to the RSPCA.
"Tiger snakes have a bite that can be fatal to not only pets but humans," the website says, while brown snake venom is milder than the tiger snake’s.
"These snakes have a toxin that causes paralysis and also have an agent in them that uses up all the clotting factors that helps to stop your pet from bleeding. Tiger snakes also have a toxin that breaks down muscle causing damage to the kidneys".
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.