Snakebites: What to do

That slithering, scaly body is enough to give anyone the shivers! For most of us living in the cities, snakes aren’t something we see often, but it’s still possible to come across one of these reptiles, and when you do – you want to be ready.  South Africa is home to some of the most poisonous snakes. While snakebites aren’t as common as a road accidents, they can be fatal – so, knowing what to do if you’re bitten, could be the difference between life and death.

What to do

We’d like to say there’s a home-made treatment, but there isn’t any. The best thing to do is to get to a hospital as soon as possible.
There are certain key factors that you should take note of, especially when it comes to the type of snake. If you are bitten, DON’T try to capture the snake! Instead, remember the colour and pattern – this will help the doctors identify what snake bit you and which anti-venom to use.

If you are bitten, DON’T do the following:

  • Drink alcohol
  • Attempt to suck out the venom
  • Rinse the wound
  • Use ice on the wound
  • Use a tourniquet
  • Cut the wound

What you should do:

  • Call the ambulance
  • Remove jewellery
  • Keep the wound lower than your heart
  • Take note of the shape, colour and pattern of the snake

What types of snakes are common in South Africa?

Here’s a list of some the most venomous snakes in South Africa:

  • Black Mamba (North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern KwaZulu-Natal)
  • Cape Cobra (Cape Provinces, Free State and South Western regions of the Eastern Cape)
  • Boomslang (Found in most areas of South Africa)
  • Rinkhals (Southern Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State and parts of KwaZulu-Natal.)
  • The Mozambique Spitting Cobra (mostly found in the northern areas of South Africa)
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