Three people bitten by snakes overnight in Queensland

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Flaviemys purvisi

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Oct 28, 2017
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By Aaron Bunch
5 January 2019

Three people have been bitten by snakes in Queensland in less than six hours overnight, with the state experiencing a surge in bites.

Two men in their 70s and a teenage girl were all taken to hospital in stable conditions for the bites, that occurred in the north and south of the state on Friday night.

Warmer weather and housing development in rural areas are likely contributors to the increase in bite victims, experts say.

To November 30, there were 817 snake bites statewide for 2018, according to Queensland Ambulance Service statistics.

That was up from 739 for the 2016 calendar year, and 658 and 654 bites for 2015 and 2014 respectively.

University of Queensland snake expert Professor Bryan Fry says climate change has brought longer periods of warm weather, which means snakes are active for longer periods of each year.

"Their activity season may now stretch to April or May, where in some areas it may have previously slowed down by March as things cooled down," he said on Saturday.

"Snakes are another indicator of this unnatural strain on nature as the climate gets hotter for longer."

Rampant overdevelopment has also cleared snake habitat leaving them no option but to move in with their new human neighbours, Prof Fry said.

"Whenever there's an area cleared for a housing estate there's usually a spike in snakebites," he said.

Mackay-based snake catcher and zoologist Ben Smit says most bites occur when people try to kill snakes on their properties.

"Around here new suburbs are being built in areas that were cane fields and that's where snakes live," he said.

"Mostly it's eastern browns and coastal taipans."

Queensland is home to some the most dangerous species of snakes, including red- bellied black snakes, tiger snakes and death adders.

People are urged to be cautious when walking in snake habitat and shifting items snakes could be under or in.

As snake bites can be fatal, people are urged to seek hospital treatment if they are bitten, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman said.

Don't wash the wound as the hospital will need to test the bite area to identify the snake to administer the appropriate venom, he said.

There were no QAS snakebite statistics available for December 2018 or 2017.

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