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Fierce Snake bite in the Hunter Valley

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Friday, September 28, 2012

It looks increasingly likely from the news reports that the Fierce Snake (or Inland Taipan as it is sometimes known) was part of an illegal collection. Perhaps it is due to their reputation as the world’s most toxic snake that people will, invariably, be attracted to keeping them as pets? Having worked extensively with this species both in captivity and in the wild I can verify that Fiercies are reasonably well mannered, compared to the fire and brimstone one expects from, say, an Eastern Brown Snake. Nevertheless, for inexperienced or careless keepers there are serious risks. Handling venomous snakes inappropriately, or having ones hand enter the line of fire during feeding time, for example, has led to many serious bites.

Venomous snakes can only be kept in NSW under license. In order to attain a license the applicant must show proof of their experience in keeping dangerously venomous species. This kind of experience is best obtained as a professional snake keeper in a zoo, a venom program or a training course run by a recognised expert, not at home.

Anyone considering keeping venomous snakes should receive appropriate training and experience in the safe handling and management of dangerous snakes. A critically important component of this is snake bite first aid, as death or serious injury and impairment is often attributed to the lack of, or inappropriate application of first aid. Australian snake antivenoms are the best in the world however, their effectiveness is dependent on the snake bite victim arriving at hospital in a condition where they can be saved.

As a nation with the most venomous creatures right here in our backyards, we owe it to ourselves to learn as much as we can about first aid receive safety and awareness of our venomous snakes.

The young man bitten by a fierce snake is still in a serious condition and it may take weeks for his body to fully recover from the damage caused by the deadly venom. Let’s hope he pulls through.

To listen to Craig's interview podcast on the subject click here.

Original Story posted on The Australian Website September 27, 2012 3:12PM - View the article here.

Teenager bitten by inland taipan in Hunter Valley

A TEENAGER was seriously ill in hospital today after being bitten by the world's most venomous snake, with detectives probing how he came into contact with the desert reptile.

The 17-year-old walked into a hospital in the small town of Kurri Kurri, north of Sydney, yesterday with a bite to his left hand.

His friend was carrying a plastic tub containing the snake responsible, which was later identified as the toxic inland taipan.

Also known as the fierce snake due to the strength of its venom - one drop of which is enough to kill 100 adult men - the inland taipan typically lives in central Australia's arid deserts and is not normally seen on the coast.

Detectives have been called in to investigate where the snake had come from, with speculation it could have been an illegal pet.

“The youth... is reported to be in a stable condition," police said in a statement.

“Police are now attempting to establish how the youth came to be bitten, and hope to speak to the young man once he is considered well enough."

Police said the incident was not believed to be linked to a nearby zoo break-in at the weekend, when thieves made off with four pythons and two alligators.

“No taipans were reported stolen from the zoo," police said.

According to doctors, the teenager's rapid treatment with anti-venom had been crucial to his survival, as inland taipan venom can kill someone in as little as 45 minutes.

“We had anti-venom in stock, we keep what's called polyvalent anti-venom and that covers all of our snakes," said toxicologist Geoff Isbister, who is treating the teen at the Mater hospital in Newcastle.

“We had access to it immediately, and he was treated very early," Dr Isbister told ABC radio.

The snake's poison is neurotoxic and can cause gradual paralysis and compromise breathing if not treated, with an anticoagulant element meaning victims can also internally haemorrhage to death.

Myotoxins in the bite also dissolve muscle and other tissues, meaning the wound site can cause significant kidney damage.

Dr Isbister said it could take weeks to recover from such a severe bite.

Inland taipans can grow up to 2.5 metres in length and have 12-millimetre fangs.

Because it typically lives in sparsely populated areas and is shy by nature few humans have ever been bitten by an inland taipan, and there have been no recorded deaths.


Care Flight Clinicians meet SSSAFE Snakes

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Care Flight rescue helicopter service has been saving lives for over 25 years.  Through the training of trauma specialists and senior registrars, this not for profit organization has played a major role in the evolution of critical care transportation in Australia.  Based at Weastmead Hospital, the Care Flight team also has highly trained critical care nurses working from helicopters and fixed wing aircraft in the Northern Territory.

With many snake bites occurring in remote locations, it will be of no surprise that Australia’s deadly snakes are of special interest to the care flight trauma specialists. Naturally SSSAFE was thrilled to be asked to present to these passionate and like minded professionals, who are at the cutting edge of emergency snakebite management.
As always, the SSSAFE snakes were impressive and participants were thrilled to see live venomous snakes up close.  Craig shared his intimate knowledge of snakes different behavioral and physiological characteristics, discussed the outward signs and appearance of snakebite, and the mechanics of envenomation such as fang length, mouth gape and venom volumes.

The evening proved to be an excellent opportunity for knowledge sharing and a variety of topics were discussed including:

  • challenges of managing snake bite emergencies in remote localities
  • latest research and scientific thinking on snakebite first aid
  • pressure bandaging techniques and the importance of immobilisation
  • the best bandages
  • ways to improve public awareness, education and training

A highlight of the night came unexpectedly on the back of event organiser, Justin Treble’s kind offer to have his blood mixed with fresh tiger snake venom!  In the test tube of course, graphically illustrating the catastrophic effects of Australian snake venoms on human blood!  Not for the faint hearted this one.

But the real star of the show, as it so often is, was the highly defensive and agile, eastern brown snake.  In the words of Care Flight Medical Director Dr Alan Garners, “that’s a Bugger of a snake”!  Seemed to sum it up well…

Special thanks to Justin Treble for making the evening a great success, and the whole Care Flight crew who are nothing short of inspirational.

If you would like to learn more about the wonderful work being done by Care Flight or support them by making a donation here is a link to their webpage:


SSSAFE Crocodile Islands Snake Management Program

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Recently SSSAFE director Craig Adams went on another of his many adventures.  This time he travelled to crocodile islands archipelago of North East Arnhem Land to deliver some expert venomous snake handling training to the local rangers.
The Crocodile Islands Ranger (CIR) Program aims to protect the land and sea (which includes up to 10,000km2 of sea and 250km2 of registered sacred sites), improve socioeconomic conditions and preserve and promote the rich local customs of the crocodile island communities  Initially a volunteer program, the CIR successfully secured commonwealth funds to engage full-time rangers to provide coastal surveillance and bio-security, including weed management and ghost nets monitoring and removal, as well as community services including search & rescue, and a Junior Ranger Program.

SSSAFE was thrilled to play its small part in the promotion and conservation of local fauna.  Rangers were given instruction in the safe removal (catch and release) of venomous and non-venomous snakes common to the area. The training, familiarisation and use of the specialist catching equipment and snakebite emergency first aid were very well received.
Craig and the trainees pursued wild snakes through the evening and early morning when snakes are most active.  The snake catching scenarios were fair dinkum and in real time.  A number of representative species were captured and different catching techniques were played out.

Conservation issues were also brought into sharp relief as literally hundreds of the highly poisonous cane toads were encountered each night, including recently dead snakes that had been poisoned by eating them.  Only one goanna was caught on Milingimbi Island where once, prior to the toad invasion, they could be found in large numbers and were an important source of bush tucker.  The importance of protecting those few remaining specimens – and not hunting them for food -  was discussed at length, as these individuals may hold the gene that prevents them taking toads as prey and are key to future generations of toad avoiding goannas and their gradual recovery on the island.

If you feel your organisation could benefit from having a professional train your people in Snake Safety and Awareness, Snakebite First Aid or require Specialised Venomous Snake Handling training to remove problem snakes, safely, following the link to

The Hunt

Snake Wrangling

Safely in the bag!

Securing the prize

Craig & the trainees examine a black whip snake recently killed by eating a small toad

Even small toads can prove fatal to the unfortunate snake that attempts to eat them

A trainee assesses the merits of our compression bandages with a visual aid

Craid taking the First Aid message to the wider community

The end of a long night Snake Hunting & a very successful trip


A huge thank you and congratulations to Warrick and Simone Angus for their dedication, proffessionalism and hospitality.

They are doing an excellent job up there!


Australian Venomous Snakes: Travel Diary and NEW Handling Courses on Home Turf

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Thursday, May 10, 2012

We have finally returned from our field trip / family adventure to the Flinders Ranges via Western NSW.  There is not much to report on the snake front as the weather was a bit too cool for many of the cold blooded creatures out west.  However we did encounter a King Brown, who looked like it had only just been hit by passing traffic, but judging from its body condition, the snakes out this way appear to be doing very well.
With all the recent rains the bird life was spectacular and we added a whole flock of species to our bird list, with the help of Michael Morcombes e guide app – priceless! 

And, anyone who is lucky enough to travel this way will always see their fair share of these delightful critters.  The Shingleback lizard, that is, not the small human.  They are also known as bobtails, sleepy lizards, stumpy lizards or horseshoe lizards. 

Now, we may not have been wrangling snakes out west this time around but we all know Craig has been training zoo keepers to handle some of the most venomous snakes in Australia to professional standard for many years.  And recently, SSSAFE has been training Field Ecologists and Sport and Recreation Officers in the capture and relocation of venomous snakes.  Now this can be a tricky business, however, the training methods, techniques & equipment are second to none as they afford high levels of safety, risk management.  Not to mention being kind to the snakes. 

As one of our trainees said “In all seriousness, this is one of the best courses I have ever attended.  The presenters were outstanding (why, thankyou), the resources were quality (you better believe it!) and the practical sessions were “engaging”! (does this have something to do with the deadly snakes and spiders?)

If you feel your business has a legitimate need to control venomous snake incursions at your workplace, without having to rely on volunteers from the community to do the job, contact SSSAFE to sign up for the next competency based training program.

New Website

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Thursday, March 22, 2012


SSSAFE has grown and it is time for our homepage to reflect all the services we now offer.

In addition to our invaluable Snake and Spider Safety Seminars, SSSAFE has developed specialised Corporate Presentations that takes an entirely original approach to empathic leadership…with impact!

SSSAFE has also specifically designed an innovative and professional 2 day Snake Handling Course for industry groups, governmental bodies and emergency services that have a legitimate demand for the safe relocation or capture of snakes.

We continue working closely with our OH&S consultant, BridgeSafe, to provide Snake Hazard Assessments and recommendations to NSW Government.

SSSAFE is also proud to announce our partnership with Survival First Aid to advance the safety options available to SSSAFE clients. See our First Aid Kit store for more details.

We will still be having serious fun ‘out bush’ as field ecologists and animal wranglers for Wildlife Documentary and Commercial Filmmakers and Ecological Consultancy groups. We’ll be doing this forever!

Please feel free to browse our new site to see what’s on offer. We hope you enjoy it.


The floodwaters sweeping through NSW are forcing snakes and spiders, to any high ground available to them. There are reports of snakes flushed out and exposed by the floods being killed rather mercilessly. In my experience, snakes that find themselves in such a predicament are forced to share crowded island refuges with other displaced wildlife and they tend to lose some of their usual defensive behaviour. They have to wait it out like all the rest of us…

Let’s not forget snakes are protected wildlife. Killing them is unnecessary and dangerous.

Craig, SSSAFE director, has been involved with some fascinating projects of late starting with Gregory Colbert’s, internationally renowned wildlife photographer (, Australian Tour last year, culminating in a wildly successful field trip to the QLD channel Country to film Fierce Snakes for the BBC’s Deadly 60 Series, staring Steve Backshall, pictured below with cameraman and a very healthy Fiercy.

The doco should be on ABC this year. We will keep you posted.

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