Updated: Dec 11, 2022
✦ For a variety of reasons snakes tend to get a bad rap. They’re often portrayed and perceived as dangerous, vindictive and unpredictable, frequently associated with the traits of being untrustworthy and deceitful.
There’s no denying that they certainly can be dangerous and unpredictable but general perceptions of our scaly friends are usually way wide of the mark, unfair and completely unjustified.
As with most things in life, education is key. It is therefore encouraging and enlightening to meet the team at Reptile Solutions who are resident experts in the field of snakes and their reptilian brothers and sisters and who Brilliant Online’s very own Chrissy Jones caught up with at the recent Love Local Festival.
Reptile Solutions started as a private consultancy focused on capture and relocation but have evolved and now provide a more holistic service encompassing education and raising awareness on conservation efforts – their registered mobile zoo service which caters to Mid North Coast is one example of this, as was the meet-and-greet at the recent Love Local Festival.
This was where Chrissy met with Stu from Reptile Solutions who explained what the company does and gave her some invaluable tips on what to do in the unfortunate event of being bitten by a snake.
To start off with, however, Stu introduced Chrissy to Dora, a Stimson's Python the team have affectionately nicknamed their ‘Little Explorer’! Despite admitting to a fear of snakes and never having touched one previously, Chrissy was immediately pleasantly surprised by little Dora’s appearance, demeanour and touch, confessing she was "amazing"!
Dora is non-venomous, as are all pythons, although Stu explains people often mistake them for more dangerous species due to similar colourings and markings. It is such misconceptions that underline the value and importance of the education drive they promote which can help people learn and see a side to snakes that they may not have previously.
“Many people have strong fears and phobias with snakes but if we can help them lessen that, even if just slightly, then that is a big positive as far as we’re concerned,” Stu explained.
Whereas Dora and her species are non-venomous, many snakes in Australia are – after all, the country is home to 21 of the 25 most toxic snakes in the world. Snake bites are common and, whereas they say being bitten by a snake is the result of either really bad luck or flat-out stupidity, knowing what to do in the situation is critical.
“The best thing to do initially is just to remain calm and still,” Stu tells us. “We don’t want to be moving around much at all. The recommended first aid treatment for snake bite today, and since the 1980s, is pressure immobilisation by application of a bandage. Those found in most standard first-aid kits can be used although they are often not long enough which is why the customised snake bite bandages work well as they can stretch up to 10.5 metres in length.”
There are different approaches to applying the bandage and Chrissy asks what Stu would recommend should you receive a bite on the hand or arm.
“Some people will bandage from the top down and others will bandage from the tip up,” he explains. “I find that if you’re by yourself it’s easier to go from the tips of the fingers because you can get that first wrap around then work your way up the entire arm. This is crucial, that you wrap the complete arm and not just the area where the bite occurred. It is also important to apply it firmly, as you would for a sprain,” Stu adds. “This is where the snake bite specific bandages work better too as they have markings as a guide on how far to stretch the bandage when applying it.”
There are a couple of big no-nos that Stu highlights which people might perceive to be best-practice approaches that have been falsely depicted via the movies. The first is cutting the wound open and sucking the venom out, the second is jamming a syringe of anti-venom into the leg before jumping up and running off.
“In the real world this just doesn’t happen,” he explains. “In Australia if you’re bitten by a snake and have received the anti-venom you won’t be doing much for 12-24 hours other than being consigned to a hospital bed.”
This also underlines the importance of remaining as still and calm as possible after the bite and once the bandage has been applied correctly. “Don’t walk anywhere or get in your car and attempt to drive yourself to hospital,” Stu tells us. “There have been numerous incidents where people have decided to drive themselves only for the venom to spread and cause paralysis which has led to car crashes. Have someone else drive you or better still apply the bandage, remain calm and call the medical experts to deal with it. Moving around increases our blood pressure which heightens our circulation and that can work the venom through the body, even if we’ve got the bandage in place.”
Stu also recalls examples of people who have been bitten and panicked themselves into a frenzy only to find out the snake wasn’t venomous after all, illustrating the importance of education and being aware of snake species. “The mind can often be our worst enemy,” he says.
Get the right kit
Having the right first-aid kit to hand is important and means a preventable medicine approach can be employed, says Stu. Reptile Solutions has a variety of offerings to treat bites from the likes of snakes, spiders and blue-ringed octopus, with their top of the line Premium Regulator kit containing everything you need, including pipe bandages, splints, ice packs and heat packs.
Better still, this offering is currently available with a 20% discount through the Brilliant Online tile promo offer.
Snakes play a crucial role in the ecosystem by catching unwanted mice and rats and as such need to be protected and respected. If you do come across one, best to just leave it be and let it go on its way, says Stu, as it will be generally harmless unless threatened or startled. If you do find an unwanted visitor in the backyard, however, call or message Reptile Solutions directly on 0450430480 and they will attend to it immediately, or else transfer the case to another reptile catcher. You can access all their details via their website and social media platforms.
“If possible to safely take a picture of the snake then this is ideal,” comments Stu. “Misidentification is very, very common where people think that they might have a brown snake but it ends up being a tree snake or something equally harmless and we can guide people over the phone in these situations. Not all snake sightings result in calls to snake catchers and we prefer to leave certain harmless species such as the Diamond python or green tree snakes where they are in their natural habitat.”
Ultimately it is about awareness and respect, something Chrissy had certainly enhanced by the end of her chat with Stu, as her affectionate stroking of Dora perfectly epitomised!
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