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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.


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