Snake Bites

The difficulty with snake bites is that, unless the bite has been witnessed, it can be difficult to diagnose. The Adder is the only venomous snake native to the UK and is responsible for most bites in horses.

Symptoms of snake bites

Following a snake bite, horses will exhibit symptoms including:

  • Localised inflammatory reaction
  • Firm, hot swelling
  • Usually occurs to the face/muzzle
  • Fang marks are not easily visible
  • Dull demeanour.

What to do if you suspect a snake bite

If you suspect that your horse has been bitten by a snake, the following steps should be taken:

  • Call the vet
  • Establish how likely it is (was a snake actually seen?)
  • Clip, clean up and look for fang marks. However, the area may be too swollen and sore to see properly, in which case it is likely the vet will treat the wound the same as any other swollen and infected wound – anti-inflammatories, painkillers and antibiotics
  • Cold hosing and icepacks can also help to reduce swelling
  • Close monitoring.

Snake toxin rots flesh without bacteria, therefore the wound does not smell. Individual horses can show varying sensitivity to bites and the location of the bite can affect the outcome.

Types of snake found in the UK

For information or advice we can be contacted during office hours by telephone, post or e-mail.

Opening times

Mon - Fri: 8.30am - 4.30pm

Sat: Emergencies Only

Sun: Emergencies Only

For out of hours emergencies please call 01485 528437 to be given the phone number of the on call vet.