This information should be read in conjunction with the detailed background information on Australian snakebite.
|Antivenom||Tiger Snake: very rarely require treatment|
|Bite Site||< 50% effective. Painful and swollen|
|Principle venom effect||Abdominal pain, mild myolysis no coagulopathy|
Red-bellied black snakes are common throughout coastal areas of eastern Australia. They are common in areas frequented by man, and many bites have been recorded. From these data, it is clear that this snake is not particularly dangerous, and very few fatalities are recorded. While its bite may often cause a local and even mild systemic reaction, potentially lethal bites are rare and most cases, even with envenomation, probably do not warrant antivenom therapy.
The snake is an iridescent blue-black with lower side scales bright red to pink fading to a pale pink to cream on the belly. The head is small and narrow.
The venom is neither particularly potent, nor in very large quantity. It does not appear to cause any of the major complications of Australian snake venoms; it does not cause paralysis, coagulopathy, significant myolysis (occasional rises in CK to 2-3,000 U/L do occur) or renal failure in man, according to currently available information. However envenomation often presents with systemic symptoms, including headache, severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, possibly syncope and the bite site is often painful and swollen and may become infected.
NOTE: Gives positive result in black snake tube of Venom Detection Kit.
Few cases require antivenom. If it is needed, the preferred antivenom is CSL Tiger Snake Antivenom (not Black Snake Antivenom).
Pern J, McGuire B, McGuire L et al The envenomation syndrome caused by the Australian red-bellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus. Toxicon 38 (2000) 1715-1729
Shea GM. The distribution and identification of dangerously venomous Australian terrestrial snakes. Aust.Vet.J. 1999;77(12):791-8.
Sutherland SK, Tibballs J. Treatment of snake bite in Australia. In: Sutherland SK, Tibballs J, editors. Australian Animal Toxins. 2nd ed. Melbourne: Oxford University Press; 2001. p. 286-342.
White J. Clinical Toxicology of Snakebite in Australia and New Guinea. In: Meier J, White J, editors. Handbook of Clinical Toxicology of Animal Venoms and Poisons. 1st ed. New York: CRC Press; 1995. p. 595-618.