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Tiger Snake Group and Clinically Related Species

The following snakes are considered together because they have a similar, but not identical, spectrum of envenomation and are all treated with Tiger Snake antivenom:

  • Mainland (Eastern, common) tiger Notechis scutatus
  • Black ( Island) tiger Notechis ater
  • Western tiger Notechis ater occidentalis
  • Krefft's tiger Notechis ater ater
  • Peninsula tiger Notechis ater niger
  • Chappell Island tiger Notechis ater serventyi
  • Tasmanian and King Island tiger Notechis ater humphreysi

This information should be read in conjunction with the detailed background information on Australian snakebite.

Antivenom Tiger Snake: starting dose 1 ampoule
Bite Site 70% effective bite, mild local pain, swelling and bruising
Principle venom effect Predominantly myolysis & paralysis also coagulopathy

Tiger snakes are the second most important cause of snakebite in Australia. In general, they are wetland snakes and have a restricted distribution in southern (black tiger snake) and south-eastern (eastern tiger snake) Australia. They have small fangs (average length 3.5 mm) and produce a moderate amount of highly toxic venom (average 35 mg). Most bites are effective and as many as 70% of cases will need antivenom therapy (prior to antivenom availability 45% of tiger snakebites were fatal).

Eastern tiger snakes are brown to olive green with diffuse banding; very rare specimens may be almost black. The brown colour phase may be mistaken for a brown snake but will almost always have some indication of diffuse bands. The black tiger snake is a glossy black to very dark brown with very little banding in the adult.

Their toxic venom causes coagulopathy, myolysis, paralysis and renal failure. The coagulopathy is of the defibrination type and may be severe. The myolysis may be very severe, with peak CK of greater than 200,000 U/L, and significant muscle wasting. Secondary hyperkalaemia and renal failure is common in this situation. Paralysis is common, usually manifesting first as ptosis, which may develop 1-3 hours post bite. Complete respiratory paralysis is possible and is mediated by presynaptic neurotoxins, therefore once established may not be reversed by antivenom, hence the need to give the antivenom as soon as there is early evidence of paralysis.

NOTE: Gives positive result in the tiger snake tube of the Venom Detection Kit.

Preferred antivenom is CSL Tiger Snake Antivenom.


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.

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