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Gingin man dies after freak snake bite

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Brian Bush is spot on identifying the critical risk factors of brown snake envenomation.

Gingin man dies after freak snake bite

WA Today

Perth Zoo officers have confirmed that the snake that killed a 43-year-old Gingin man was a highly venomous western brown snake.

The snake was originally thought to be a tiger snake, but zoo experts confirmed the species this afternoon. It is the second death attributed to the venomous reptile in two years.

Police spokeswoman Susan Usher said the man was bitten on the toe around 8.30pm on Friday night.

"He was at his home when he phoned someone to say he'd been bitten by a snake and was then taken to hospital," Ms Usher said. He later died in hospital.

Perth Zoo spokeswoman Debbie Read said health authorities brought the 50 centimetre snake to the zoo yesterday and keepers identifed it as a western brown today.

"The keepers were very surprised that the snake was able to inject a lethal amount because its fangs were so small," Ms Read said.

"They are a highly venomous species and it was dead when it was brought here."

Snake handler Brian Bush said the last snake-related death in WA was in January 2009 when a 60-year-old Carnarvon woman was bitten, also by a western brown snake.

"The smallest western brown to kill someone was an 18 centimetre snake that bit a 27-year-old pregnant woman in 1982," Mr Bush said.

He said 11 people had died in WA after being bitten by a snake since 1986.

Health Department spokeswoman Crystal Fairbairn said 77 people had so far been treated for snake bites in WA this year.

Information collected by Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital's poisons information centre showed about 100 snake bites were recorded in the state each year, but deaths were rare.

"There have been no recorded inpatient deaths from snake bite over the past 10 years in WA," spokeswoman Clare Chamberlain said.

"On average, there are two deaths attributed to snake bites per year in Australia."

Mr Bush said western brown snake bites were especially dangerous because the victim often didn't feel any symptoms until it was too late.

"With a brown snake you can show no symptoms at all until there's an acute drop in blood pressure and you pass out and a lot of people experience cardiac arrest," he said.

"The western brown is involved in most of our fatalities. They have this predilection to enter buildings to look for mice."

The Red Cross has urged people to be wary of snakes as the weather heats up, with the elderly, children and sick people most at risk.

Those bitten could suffer from a number of symptoms including nausea and vomiting, ringing ears, blurred vision, paralysis and cardiac arrest.

Mr Bush said snake bite symptoms could appear fairly rapidly and that anyone bitten should use bandages or clothing to wrap the affected area.

"I understand this man was bitten on the toe and he should have bandaged that right up the foot and up to his leg," Mr Bush said.

"That closes the spaces in the tissue and traps the venom to stop it travelling through the body."

Mr Bush said while anti-venom stocks were sufficient in southern WA, regional hospitals often had limited supplies.

"Our tiger snake anti-venom works pretty good but the brown snake one isn't the best because it's made from snakes from the eastern states," he said.

"It can take up to 20 plus ampoules of anti-venom (to treat western brown snake bites)."

Extract taken from WA Today. Read the enire article here.

Image Courtesy: Jannico Kelk

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.


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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