10 Tips on Surviving a Pit Viper Snake Bite in South East Asia

Trimeresurus erythrurus- Red-tailed bamb by stevesnake shillong, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by stevesnake shillong

A dangerous snake to watch out for in South East Asia is a Pit-Viper.  When bitten, swelling will occur and for a small child the swelling can spread throughout the limb. Blistering and bruises will appear and the patient will be in shock. Bleeding could occur from the nose, gums and other places where blood can come through.  The only remedy for snakebites is anti-venon.

The key in surviving is getting the snake bitten victim stable and transported to a hospital as soon as possible. So it important to know where the nearest hospital/clinic is located and to get help.  Before proceeding make sure to read our guide on travelling to SE Asia.

Here are 10 Tips/Steps while someone is getting a transport if none is readily available.


1. Calm the patient as best you can as he/she may be in shock.

2. Immobilize the patient and promote a calm atmosphere.

3. Do not undress the patient; this will promote the venom to move quicker through the body. Cut or rolled the clothing.

4. Area that is bitten can be washed with clean water and soap. Use a cloth to wipe slowly and gently on the bitten area to wipe any venom off the surface. Keeping the cloth with the venom can help identify the species when at hospital.

5. Swelling may occur, so remove watches and  jewelry(rings).

6. Use a splint or a sling to isolated/steady the bitten area.

7. If available, use a pressure pad (preferably rubber /material pad that is 5 cm square 2-3 cm thick). Apply pad to wound bounded firmly by non elastic bandage (Not tight).

8. Keep the bitten limb below the level of the heart as best you can, at all time.  This will help slow the movement of venom to vital organs.

9. Hopefully the ride has arrived for transportation to the hospital.  Carry the bitten victim slowly and carefully into the vehicle.  The more hands the better.

10. Least important, do not pursue the snake. If so happens the snake is dead, bring it to the hospital. Do not use your bare hands to retrieve the snake as it may still be alive.  To be safe, take note of the description or a picture of the snake. This will help identify the snake in order to give the best antidote.

Other tips

  • If victim is in pain, treat patient with paracetamol(Tylenol), codeine, or dihydrodeine if on hand.
  • Do not use aspirin and ibuprofen.
  • Do not use Ice Packs.
  • Use anti-venom if on hand.


Click here to read more on Ways to Avoid Snake Bites in South East Asia.