Eastern Brown Snake
Eastern Brown Snake
28 November 2011

The University of Queensland Gatton Veterinary Medical Centre reports a sharp increase in snake bites to family pets in recent weeks.

Factors including hot weather and increased activity in snake prey including mice, frogs and other small animals means snakes are out in force.

Head of Service of the Small Animal Hospital Dr Bob Doneley said a combination of a large number of snakes and inquisitive pets was a disaster waiting to happen.

"Snakes are common in the Lockyer Valley region and are more active during the summer months making snake bite a common problem for pets, pet owners and vets," Dr Doneley said.

"Recently, the UQ Veterinary Medical Centre has seen more than five cases a week. On one day alone, we had five dogs presented with snake bite."

The majority of snake bites have been from the eastern brown snake followed by the red bellied black snake.

Symptoms of a bite from either of these snakes may be that a pet is weak and may collapse, often very shortly after being bitten.

"It is important to be aware, however, that many animals appear to recover after this initial collapse. You may not even think your pet was bitten as they may seem normal for a period of minutes to hours," Dr Doneley said.

Following this period of "normality", pets will start to display signs of envenomation which includes vomiting, breathing difficulty, discoloured urine, drooling and bleeding. If animals are not treated before these signs develop, treatment is much more difficult and mortality rates rise.

"Early treatment is therefore the key to offering your animal the best chance of survival. If you think your pet has been bitten, don't wait and see, make sure you bring your pet in straight away," Dr Doneley said.

The Veterinary Medical Centre has a test available that allows owners to check if their pet has been bitten and by which species so that treatment can be started immediately.

The UQ Gatton Veterinary Medical Centre is open to the public and is open for 24-hour emergency care.

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