Snakebite envenoming is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by toxins in the bite of a venomous snake. Envenoming can also be caused by having venom sprayed into the eyes by certain species of snakes that can spit venom as a defense measure. If a venomous snake bite and if the bitten area changes color begins to swell or is painful. Signs or symptoms of a snake bite may differ depending on the variety of snake, but may include:

  • Puncture marks at the wound
  • Redness, swelling, bruising, bleeding, or blistering around the bite
  • Severe pain and tenderness at the site of the bite
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea
  • Laboured breathing (in extreme cases, breathing may stop altogether)
  • Rapid heart rate, weak pulse, low blood pressure
  • Disturbed vision
  • Metallic, mint, or rubber taste in the mouth
  • Increased salivation and sweating
  • Numbness or tingling around face and/or limbs
  • Muscle twitching

If possible, take these steps while waiting for medical help:

  • Move beyond the snake’s striking distance
  • Remain still and calm to help slow the spread of venom
  • Remove jewellery and tight clothing before you start to swell
  • Position yourself, if possible, so that the bite is at or below the level of your heart
  • Clean the wound with soap and water. Cover it with a clean, dry dressing


Usually, people know right away if a snake has bitten them. Most snake bites can cause pain and swell around the bite.

Those that are vicious may also cause fever, headache, convulsions, and numbness. However, these symptoms can also happen due to intense fear following the bite. Bites can cause an allergic reaction in some people, which may include anaphylaxis. All venomous snakes can deliver dry bites, which are bites that do not inject venom.


Venomous snakes have two fangs that deliver venom when they bite. A venomous snake bite will usually leave two clear puncture marks. In contrast, a nonvenomous bite tends to leave two rows of teeth marks. It can be difficult to tell the difference between puncture wounds from venomous and nonvenomous snakes. People should seek medical attention for all snake bites. The typical symptoms of a venomous snake bite include:

  • Two puncture wounds
  • Swelling and pain around the bite area
  • Redness and bruising around the bite area
  • Numbness of the face, especially in the mouth
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fever
  • Thirst
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fainting
  • Convulsions


Non Venomous snakes do not produce toxins. Unlike venomous snakes, they do not have fangs. Instead, they have rows of teeth. Some symptoms of nonvenomous snake bites include:

  • Pain near the bite area
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling and redness near the bite area
  • Itching near the bite area

Without treatment, non-venomous bites can lead to skin infections and necrosis, or tissue death, so it is essential to look after the wound. Bites can also result in allergic reactions in some people.


Any time a person has been bitten by a confirmed or suspected poisonous snake, the injury should be treated as a medical emergency. While awaiting emergency medical care, there are first aid measures that should be taken.

  • Contacting emergency medical services
  • Examining the person’s airway, breathing, and circulation. If the person is having breathing problems, allow him/her to get in the position that is most naturally comfortable to breathe
  • The bitten area must be washed with soap and water
  • The clothes/jewellery must be removed since swelling may occur from the bite
  • The site of the bite must be placed lower than the level of the patient’s heart to slow the spread of venom
  • Cover the bitten area with a clean, cool compress or a moist dressing to ease swelling and discomfort
  • Breathing and heart rate monitoring is necessary

The following should NOT be done after a snake bite has occurred:

  • Do not attempt to remove snake venom by sucking it or cutting it out
  • Do not apply ice or a cold compress to a snake bite
  • Do not apply a tourniquet
  • Don’t try to suck the venom out
  • Do not raise the site of the bite above the person’s heart


  • Open and shake out sleeping bags, boots and clothing before use to dislodge snakes (and other animals and insects) that may have taken refuge inside
  • Check the ground before sitting at the base of a tree
  • Wear boots, socks, and long trousers when walking in the undergrowth or deep sand
  • Use a flashlight/torch at night when walking, collecting firewood or relieving yourself, especially after heavy rain
  • Be aware that banks of streams, rivers and lakes are common snake haunts
  • Travel with a local guide who is much more likely to see camouflaged snakes
  • Sleep off the ground


A snake bite should be suspected in patients presented with a history of bite and a local swelling with local signs of inflammation, even if the biting animal has not been seen. General examination and careful monitoring are important for the assessment of patients and consulting different specialties according to the clinical picture of the patient are necessary to reach a favorable outcome.