18 Jan Dry snake bite a wakeup call for Grant
Living with snakes is part of dairy farming in lower Heytesbury for Grant Stansfield.
When it’s warm, barely a week goes by without him seeing a snake. He has always left them alone and until recently they’d done the same.
“It’s the surprise encounters – on both parts – that can cause trouble,” the 53-year-old said.
“They don’t scare me, but I fear catching them when they are unaware. For the most part, if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.
“Only the other day, I was in the garden and I saw one coming past. I just kept an eye on him as he passed by harmlessly and that’s always been my approach.”
Grant grew up in Paaratte and said over the years he had seen hundreds of snakes without incident.
“They are always there. I’d say in the last few years there’s been more tiger snakes than usual. When I was growing up we had more copperheads and the odd tiger, but now there is a lot of tigers and the odd brown,” he said.
“When I got bitten, I had a water issue down the back of the farm and had to go and reprime the pump on a dam.
“I bent down to pick up some poly pipe and didn’t realise until I had it up near my face that a small brown must have been laying parallel with the pipe and I’d picked them both up.
“I dropped it like a hot potato and noticed some blood. I ummed and ahhed about going to TDHS to get checked out and decided I should which is the right thing to do.”
Grant said his worker drove him in, he walked into reception, was taken to accident and emergency to get checked out and the paramedics also attended.
“They had antivenom, but first they checked to see if there was venom around the bite and there wasn’t,” he said.
“They also did a blood test to make sure, but I was all clear. I spent the night in hospital because they like to retest every few hours, but I was fine. Apparently, dry bites are quite common.”
Grant said several months later his worker also had a close shave. He picked up some silage wrap and got bitten on the hand and although venom was detected, the snake hadn’t penetrated the skin so he was also totally fine.
“It’s that time of year to be wary – even on the cooler days they can find a spot out of the wind to sun themselves. They are always around that’s for sure.”
Snakes are out and about at the moment and the most important advice is that if you see one, leave it alone.
Seven of the 10 most venomous snakes in the world are native to Victoria, so even if you think you might have been bitten, stay as still as you can and call 000 (triple zero).
There are something like 2000 reported snake bites in Victoria each year, but only a small proportion have venom injected.
All snake bites are treated by Ambulance Victoria like they are envenomated, because if they don’t and they’re wrong, the outcome can be very serious.