What to do if you see a snake in the wild

Make sure you know how to deal with snakes as they make their reappearance in the warmer months. Here's the basics.

After a long winter sleep, snakes are on the move with two things in mind – finding food and finding a mate.

Snakes live all over South Australia and are common in the suburbs and at the beach, so don’t think you’ll never see one.

Eastern brown snakes are found everywhere, but each region has its local specialty – and most are venomous.

  • Adelaide Hills: red-bellied black snake
  • River Murray and South East: tiger snake
  • Eyre and Yorke peninsulas, especially near the coast: death adder
  • Kangaroo Island: copperhead
  • Northern SA: mulga snake

If you see a snake

  • Leave it alone. Snakes are generally shy and will not attack unless provoked, so it’s best to leave them be.
  • If you see a snake inside your home, get all people and pets out of the room immediately. Shut the door and fill the gap underneath with a towel, then call a professional snake catcher for assistance.
  • If you see a snake outside, watch where it goes. If it’s heading for the bush or an open paddock you probably won’t see it again. If it disappears into a shed or under a vehicle, then you may need to call a snake catcher.

Tips for avoiding a snake bite

  • Never try to catch or kill a snake yourself. This is when most bites happen.
  • Remember that even little snakes can be dangerous. Baby brown snakes have venom from the time they hatch.
  • Stick to the trails in national parks and reserves, and make a bit of noise when you walk.
  • Keep your yard clear of long grass and rubbish so snakes have nowhere to hide.
  • Rats and mice are a snake’s smorgasbord, so clean up after the chooks and control rodents on your property.

If you are bitten

  • Always assume the snake may be venomous.
  • Sit quietly, as this will reduce the speed that the venom can move around your body.
  • Call an ambulance.
  • If you have a first aid kit, wrap a compression bandage tightly around the bitten limb, starting just above the fingers or toes and moving upwards on the bitten limb as far as can be reached.
  • Remember what the snake looked like so you can tell the doctor.


  • Snakes are protected native animals and it is illegal to kill them unless there is a direct threat to human life.
  • Snakes have an important place in our ecosystem, especially in controlling rats and mice.

For more information on maintaining your property to reduce the likelihood of attracting snakes, visit Living with Wildlife.

This story was originally published in September 2015.

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