Snake Envenomation in Domestic Animal Species in Australia

  • A. M. Padula
  • Hui Mei Ong
  • Kylie Kelers
Reference work entry
Part of the Toxinology book series (TOXI)


Snakebite is a significant animal health problem for domestic animals in Australia. Animalsare more frequently envenomed than humans, perhaps due to their innate hunting instincts. The Australian continent is home to many highly venomous snakes. The most common snake species responsible for animal envenomation are the tiger snake (Notechis scutatus) and eastern brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis). Notable, but less frequently reported snake species include the red bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus), taipan (Oxyruanus scutellatus) and death adders (Acanthophis sp.). There is significant geographic variation between regions of Australia and the venomous snake species that occur. Dogs and cats are the most frequently reported animal species requiring veterinary treatment for clinically significant envenoming, however horses and other animal species are occasionally envenomed. A range of clinical syndromes have been reported for envenomed animals and are dependent upon the snake species. Animals may present with generalized paralysis, myopathy, coagulation disorders or local bite site reactions. The chronology and severity of clinical signs appear to be related to total venom dose received, bodyweight and elapsed time. Death may occur rapidly following envenomation from some species of snakes, particularly in low bodyweight dogs. Veterinarians commonly diagnose snakebite by interpretation of clinical signs, and application of hematological, biochemical and coagulation tests. The principle treatments used by veterinarians are antivenom, hospitalization, supportive care, and respiratory support measures. Research to improve diagnostic efficiency, better understanding of cost-benefit of various treatment approaches are required to improve outcomes for animals and owners.


Animal Antivenom Brown snake Cat Dog Horse Snakebite Tiger snake 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Venom Research Unit, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of MelbourneParkville, MelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Emergency and Critical Care, UVet Werribee Animal HospitalUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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