top of page

Identification & Action 



Snakebite symptoms vary dramatically from bite to bite. Many snakebites take place so quickly that victims are not always certain that they have actually been bitten. A bite mark is seldom the characteristic two-fang puncture mark – more frequently, a bite will be from a single fang and will just be a scratch with a little bleeding.

In the event of a snakebite, the victim may have some of the following symptoms

  • An immediate burning pain, followed by swelling, which progresses up the limb and may affect the lymph glands (the Puff Adder and the Mozambique Spitting Cobra).

  • Dizziness, difficulty in swallowing and breathing, drooping eyelids and nausea (the mambas and the Cape Cobra).

  • Bleeding from the nose, small cuts, followed by bleeding from the mucous membranes and, after several hours, severe internal bleeding (the Boomslang and the Twig Snake).

  • Shock, which can cause nausea, pain and difficulty in breathing.

Snake bite.jfif
What to do

For victims exhibiting any of the symptoms: 

  • Phone HEMS 082 695 1240 immediately or get the victim to a hospital as soon as possible.

  • Keep the victim calm and as still as possible - Muscle contractions speed up the movement of venom in the lymphatic system. Immobilise the victim, lay the victim down if possible and transport (or arrange transport) to the closest hospital. Elevate the affected limb slightly above heart level.

  • Remove rings and tight clothing - If bitten on the hand, arm, foot, or lower leg, remove rings, bangles, bracelets, watches, anklets and any other tight jewellery, as well as tight clothing and shoes.

  • Apply pressure bandages - If you are more than an hour or two from the closest medical facility, consider applying pressure bandages to the affected limb, but ONLY in suspected Mamba or Cape Cobra bites.


In the event of a spitting snake:

     Venom in the eyes is very painful and must be flushed or diluted as quickly as possible.

  •  Flush the eyes with a weak (normal) saline solution, or place the victim’s head under a slowly running tap with the eyes forced open.

  • Keep flushing for at least 15-20 minutes call HEMS 082 695 1240 or take the patient to a hospital.

  • If no saline or water is available, other bland liquids like milk, beer, cold drink or even urine can be used. Water works best.

bottom of page