All snake bites and spider bites must be treated as potentially life-threatening. If you are bitten by a venomous snake or spider, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
Are snake and spider bites serious?
Knowing whether a snake or spider bite is dangerous or not can be difficult. The information on these pages explains what to do — including providing the proper first aid treatment — if you are bitten by a snake or spider. It’s also important to be aware that bites from snakes or spiders can cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) in some people. Learn more about first aid treatment for severe allergic reactions in the ‘anaphylaxis’ section below.
To view a brief video on ‘venomous snake bite’ treatment, click here
To view a brief video on a ‘funnel web’ the most venomous spider in the world. First aid treatment is the same as a ‘venomous snake bite’, click here
Keep calm, and follow these steps:
- Get the person away from the snake or spider
- Ensure they rest and help them stay calm
- Call triple ‘000’ and ask for an ambulance
- Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage
- Don’t wash the bite area – venom left on the skin can help identify the snake or spider
If you can’t use a pressure immobilisation bandage because the bite is on the trunk or stomach, apply constant, firm pressure. Do not apply a tourniquet, cut the wound or attempt to suck the venom (poison) out.
Pressure immobilisation bandage:
A pressure immobilisation bandage is recommended for anyone bitten by a venomous snake or spider. You should firmly bandage the area of the body involved — such as an arm or leg — and keep the person calm and still until medical help arrives.
Follow these steps to apply an immobilisation bandage:
- First, put a pressure bandage over the bite itself. It should be tight and you should not be able to easily slide a finger between the bandage and the skin.
- Next, use a heavy crepe or elasticised roller bandage to immobilise the whole limb. Start just above the fingers or toes of the bitten limb and move upwards on the limb as far as the body. Splint the limb including joints on either side of the bite.
- Keep the person and the limb completely at rest. If possible, mark the site of the bite on the bandage with a pen.
Some people occasionally have a severe allergic reaction to being bitten by a snake or spider. Their whole body can react to the bite within minutes, which can lead to anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is very serious and can be fatal.
Symptoms of anaphylactic shock include:
- difficult or noisy breathing
- difficulty talking and/or a hoarse voice
- a swollen tongue
- persistent dizziness or collapse
- swelling or tightness in the throat
- being pale and floppy (young children)
- wheeze or persistent cough
- abdominal pain or vomiting