Warning over deadly mistake as snake season spikes: 'Very dangerous'

Being bitten by one of Australia's deadliest snakes is not as obvious as you may think.

You might be fooled into thinking that a bite from one of the world’s most venomous snakes would be incredibly painful.

But for victims of the eastern brown snake, a common species in Australia, they might not even realise they’ve been bitten.

“An eastern brown bite can be literally painless,” the Australian Reptile Park’s Billy Collett told Yahoo News Australia, “which can make them very dangerous".

An eastern brown snake with a person's legs in the background.
Snake expert Billy Collett, from the Australian Reptile Park, says eastern brown snake bites can be 'literally painless.' Source: Getty

“They have tiny fangs and venom that is designed to just play with the blood a little bit,” he explained. “So it will thicken up your blood and your blood pressure will rise and you will get really short breaths. Then there is a toxin that will attack your diaphragm and your central nervous system, basically paralysing you.”

Eastern brown to blame for 1 in 2 snake deaths each year

As one of the most common snakes on the east coast of Australia, the highly venomous eastern brown is also responsible for the most snakebite fatalities every year.

“We only see about two deaths a year in Australia and about 60 per cent of them result from incidents with brown snakes,” Mr Collett said. “Normally from someone trying to kill or capture the snake not trained in it. That's why we say to people, even if you think you've not been bitten by a snake, put a bandage on.”

An eastern brown snake striking.
The toxin from an eastern brown snake bite can paralyse you. Source: Getty

The wildlife expert’s warning comes amid a surge in snake activity on the east coast, a result of fluctuating temperatures.

“Summer started warm and then it went cold and now it's gone warm again, so we've seen the snake numbers pop up, go quiet again for that cooler period and then it's gone hot again in the last couple of weeks,” Mr Collett said.

Don’t ‘muck’ around with snakes

He’s urging people to take proactive steps and be exceptionally cautious this snake season.

“Especially around our households with keeping lawns mowed and rubbish piles at bay, and being up to date with snake first aid,” Billy said, adding that a pressure bandage is all that’s needed in a suspected bite.

A person having their arm bandaged.
Anyone who thinks they've been bitten by a snake is urged to use a pressure bandage on the bite sight. Source: Australian Reptile Park

“All you need to do is get your bandage and go over the bite sight three times, and work your way up the limb, immobilise and get yourself to hospital,” he explained. “Get the bandage on in the first few minutes because it slows the movement down dramatically.”

While anyone who spots a snake is told not to go anywhere near it. “Stay away from it, don't muck with it and call your local snake catcher.”

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