Black snake poisoning

From Dog
Black snake[1]

Snake-bite envenomation by the Black snake is relatively common.

The venom of these snakes is highly pathogenic, resulting in acute hemolytic anemia and rhabdomyolysis.

Clinical symptoms differ to those seen with the Australian brown snake and tiger snake[2] and include profuse salivation, progressive lethargy, obtundence, icterus, inappetence and collapse.

Blood tests usually reveal marked leucopenia, thrombocytopenia and prolonged prothrombin times and depleted levels of fibrinogen.

Urinalysis commonly shows hemoglobinuria.

Diagnosis of black snake envenomation is based predominantly on the recognition of clinical signs. Specific diagnostic tests, such as venom detection kits, can be used to assist diagnosis.

Treatment usually involves intravenous fluid therapy and antivenom and monitoring of response to treatment. Caution should be exercised with older canine patients, as acute renal injury is a real complication of envenomation with this species of snake[3].

Survival after antivenom administration appears to be better than with other venomous Australian snakes, with 75% of cases surviving without long-term complications[4].


  1. Australian Museum
  2. Heller J et al (2005) Snake envenomation in dogs in New South Wales. Aust Vet J 83(5):286-292
  3. Heller J et al (2006) Anuric renal failure in a dog after red-bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) envenomation. Aust Vet J 84(5):158-162
  4. Mirtschin PJ et al (1998) Snake bites recorded by veterinary practices in Australia. Aust Vet J 76(3):195-198