Overview

Bites, snake
Bites, snake
Most snake bites in the UK are not serious. But it's important to get all snake bites checked as soon as possible.
 
Call 999 or go to A&E immediately if:
  • you think you, or someone else, has been bitten by a snake.

If you're not in the UK when you are bitten by a snake, contact the emergency medical services in the country you're in.

Get foreign travel advice on GOV.UK.

What to do while you're waiting for help

Do

  • stay calm, most snake bites in the UK are not serious and can be treated
  • Keep the part of your body that was bitten as still as you can
  • lie in the recovery position if you can
  • take paracetamol for any pain
  • try to remember the colour and pattern of the snake to tell the doctor
  • take off any jewellery and loosen clothes near the bite, in case it swells

Don’t

  • do not go near the snake, or try to catch or kill it
  • do not try to suck or cut the poison (venom) out of the bite
  • do not tie anything tightly round the part of the body where the bite is
  • do not take aspirin or ibuprofen, as they can make bleeding worse

What happens at the hospital

You will usually need to stay in hospital for at least 24 hours if you have been bitten by a snake.

The bite will be cleaned and bandaged. You may be given an injection to help protect you from tetanus.

If you were bitten by a poisonous (venomous) snake you will be treated with a medicine to fight the venom. This is given through a thin tube into a vein, called a drip.

Types of UK snake

Only 3 types of snake are found in the wild in the UK.

The adder is the only venomous snake, but you should get all snake bites checked as soon as possible.

Telling the doctors the colour and pattern of the snake that bit you could help them treat it.

  • Adders are grey or reddish-brown, with a dark zig-zag shaped stripe down their back.
  • Grass snakes are usually green, with dark spots down their sides and yellow and black bands around their neck.
  • Smooth snakes are usually grey or brown with a dark pattern. The pattern down their backs are lighter and less zig-zag shaped than on adders.
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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 07/05/2021 12:41:10