Australia is home to around 170 different species of snakes, some of those are amongst the most venomous in the world. While it is estimated that 3000-5000 snakebites occur each year in Australia, only around 2-4 of those prove fatal. This is in stark contrast with India, where over 50,000 people die each year to snake bites.
“HALF OF ALL CASES INVOLVE PEOPLE INTERFERING WITH SNAKES”
In an interview with The Leader, Professor Geoff Isbister of the University of Newcastle estimated that approx. 100 to 200 bites out of the total 3000 to 5000 will require antivenom, and that half of those result from “people interfering with snakes”.
1. Eastern Brown Snake
Eastern brown snakes are located throughout the eastern half of the country and known to be aggressive and are responsible for more deaths than any other group of snakes in Australia.
The eastern brown venom can paralyse a victim and prevent blood from clotting. No wonder their venom is ranked as the second most toxic of any land snake in the world.
The body colour can be of any shade of brown, from near-black to light tan with the head colour of darker snakes being a lighter colour.
Eastern brown’s are most active in spring, followed by autumn and summer.
(The video above shows the infamous eastern brown strike action)
2. Western Brown Snake
Found throughout most of mainland Australia, the western brown is not as aggressive as it’s eastern cousin, however a bite from a western brown can deliver 3 times as much venom and can still be fatal.
Their bites are usually painless due to their small fangs and can result in headaches, nausea, abdominal pain and blood clotting.
The western brown is highly variable in colour with the back being any shade of brown and is often patterned with darker flecks or bands. The head may be brown or black.
3. Mainland Tiger Snake
Tiger snakes live along the south-eastern cost of Australia and take the number 2 spot for human bites each year. They are nocturnal hunters, making it easy for an unsuspecting person to step on them in the darkness.
Tiger snake venom attacks the blood and muscles causing pain, tingling, numbness, breathing difficulties and paralysis. Adult tiger snakes can normally (but not always) be identified by their trademark colour bands and can grow to 2m long. The body can be grey, olive-brown or almost black.
Tiger snakes will usually put on an impressive act of aggression when threatened. This starts with flattening of the neck and loud hissing.
Common habitats include swamps, wetlands and other water courses of south eastern Australia. Where food is in abundance, these snakes can be found in large numbers within close proximity to each other. (Not a pleasant thought…)