List of fatal snake bites in Australia

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The Eastern brown snake is responsible for around 60% of deaths caused by snakebite in Australia.[1]

Snake bites in Australia that cause deaths are less common than they once were, because of increased medical knowledge and anti-venom that is better and more available. Around half of all deaths from snakebites are caused by brown snakes[2][unreliable source?]. Australia is the only continent where venomous snakes constitute the majority of species.[1] The Eastern brown snake is responsible for perhaps 60% of deaths caused by snakebite.[1]

Although Australian snakes can be very venomous, comparatively little is known about the protein compositions of venoms from Australian snakes, compared to those of Asia and America. Wide access to antivenom and adequate medical care has made deaths exceedingly rare with only a few fatalities each year. Australian snakes are known to possess potent venom: approximately 5 of the world's top 10 drop for drop most venomous snakes, that have been tested by LD50 in mice, inhabit the continent.[3] However, it must also be pointed out that Australian venomous snakes tend to have smaller venom yields and fang lengths when compared with venomous snakes from other continents and that the test involving drop for drop toxicity to mice may not represent drop for drop toxicity to other animals (including humans).

Number of snake bites[edit]

The estimated incidence of snakebites annually in Australia is between 3 and 18 per 100,000 with an average mortality rate of 0.03 per 100,000 per year.[4] Between 1979 and 1998 there were 53 deaths from snakes, according to data obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.[5]

Between 1942 and 1950 there were 56 deaths from snakebite recorded in Australia. Of 28 deaths in the 1945-49 period, 18 occurred in Queensland, 6 in New South Wales, 3 in Western Australia and 1 in Tasmania.[6] The majority of snake bites occur when people handle snakes in an attempt to relocate or kill them.[dubious ]


Below is a list of fatal snake bites that occurred in Australia in reverse chronological order. The list omits snake bite-related deaths where the actual cause of death was not an unprovoked snake bite. Omitted incidents include cases where someone died from falling after receiving a bite, or where a person deliberately provoked or handled a snake.


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
41yo male 8 October 2014 Western brown snake Pseudonaja nuchalis Laverton, Western Australia[7]
Karl Berry, 26yo 23 April 2013 Western brown snake Pseudonaja nuchalis Darwin, Northern Territory
60yo male 10 March 2013 Stephen's Banded Snake Kalang, New South Wales[8]
Andrew Vaughan, 57yo 1 November 2012 Coastal Taipan Yeppoon, Queensland
Andrew Smith, 35yo 17 November 2011 Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis Emerald, Queensland
Narelle Pails, 42yo 2 November 2011 Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis Warwick, Queensland
Ben Steers, 39yo 11 September 2011 Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis Warwick, Queensland


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
43yo male, Michael Thorpe 2010 Western brown snake Pseudonaja nuchalis Gingin, Western Australia[9][10]
60yo female 2009 Western brown snake Pseudonaja nuchalis Carnarvon, Western Australia[11]
37yo male, Ron Siggins 2007 Whip snake Harcourt[12]
Milena Swilks 2007 Eastern brown snake Rocky River south of Armidale[13]
16yo boy Jan 2007 Eastern brown snake Whalan, bitten on hand, believed trek to find help in hot conditions may have advanced spread of venom[14]


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Joey McGlashan, 7yrs old 1999 Tiger Snake Kennet River, Victoria
Michael Ross 1998 Desert Death Adder Broome, Western Australia[15]
Richard Scott 1994 Northern Death Adder Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia[15]
50yo male 1993 Eastern Brown Bundaberg, Queensland


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
33yo female 1989 Western Brown Carnarvon, Western Australia[15]
61yo female 1986 Western Brown Cervantes, Western Australia[15]


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Kevin Budden, 20yo male July 28, 1950 Coastal taipan Cairns, Queensland; specimen captured and subsequently milked by David Fleay in Melbourne to produce first antivenom.


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
4yo boy Sep 1946 Hampton, New South Wales[16]
Miss Norma Wells 1940 Goulburn River while walking beside the river, died later in hospital[17]


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Mrs. Mervyn Cole 1932 Horsham, Victoria, while fishing[18]
13yo boy Mar 1932 Gosford,[19]
25yo male Aug 1930 brown snake near Ingham, Queensland[20]
11yo girl Feb 1930 death adder Toowoomba[21]


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
3yo male 1928 Capel, bitten on leg[22]
Charles McPherson Dec 1925 tiger snake Molesworth, bitten while reading on a camping trip, died in hospital 12 hours later[23]


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Vogel boy 1917 Tintaldra[24]
21yo male Nov 1915 Laverton, Victoria[25]
14yo male Mar 1910 Casterton was rabbiting with friends, bitten when put hand in a burrow to get a rabbit[26]
Howard Thomas 1910 brown snake Queensland[27]


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Hugh McDay 1909 Deloraine[28]
Walter Harden 1908 Maroubra, New South Wales[29]
Ronald Whitechurch 1908 Seymour[30]
Frances McKnight 1907 Middle Harbour snake bit her three times on ankle while gathering wild-flowers[31]
small boy Nov 1906 Yea[32]
15yo boy Oct 1902 tiger snake Coonong, New South Wales, bitten on the calf while bird-catching, died four hours later[33]
Cira Esparza Solis, Spanish Immigrant. 1900 tiger snake Dumbalk, Vic[34]
13yo girl Nov 1900 Bendigo[35]

Before 1900[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
74yo male farmer 1899 tiger snake Kilmore, bitten on little finger[36]
9yo boy 1899 Congbool station, Balmoral[37]
young girl Jan 1899 Bruthen, trod on snake while carrying parcel[38]
young girl 1898 Waikerie, South Australia girl put her hand in a log that a rabbit ran into and was bitten by a snake[39]
8yo girl Jan 1896 Strezleckie, Victoria, near Korumburra bitten while asleep[40]
8yo boy 1895 tiger snake Inverary, New South Wales, near Bungonia bitten while crossing a paddock barefooted[41]
10yo boy 1893 tiger snake Stawell[42]
unnamed Chinese gardener 1887 Wangaratta, bitten on heel, died in hospital[43]
12yo boy 1878 tiger snake Alexandra, bitten while planting potatoes[44]
Mrs Falconer Dec 1875 Swan Hill[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mirtschin, P.J.; R. Shineb; T.J. Niasa; N.L. Dunstana; B.J. Hougha; M. Mirtschina (November 2002). "Influences on venom yield in Australian tigersnakes (Notechis scutatus) and brownsnakes (Pseudonaja textilis: Elapidae, Serpentes)" (PDF). Toxicon 40 (11): 1581–92. doi:10.1016/S0041-0101(02)00175-7. PMID 12419509. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  2. ^ Snakebite in Australia
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Snake-bites:appraisal of the global situation J.P. Chippaux
  5. ^ Fatalities from Venomous Animals Australian Venom Research Unit
  6. ^ Snakebite mortality in the world 1953 World Health Organisation
  7. ^ David Charlesworth & Liam Ducey (2014-10-14). "Man dead, two boys admitted to hospital after WA snake bites". Retrieved 2015-04-09. 
  8. ^ Jessica Tapp (2013-03-19). "Snake bite kills man after NSW floods". Retrieved 2015-04-09. 
  9. ^ Nicolas Perpitch (2010-12-01). "Western Brown Snake Bite Kills Gingin Man". Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  10. ^ Katherine Fenech (2010-12-01). "Western Brown Snake Bite Kills Gingin Man". Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  11. ^ Katherine Fenech (2010-12-01). "Western Brown Snake Bite Kills Gingin Man". Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  12. ^ 'Harmless' snake proves deadly
  13. ^ Tragic snake bite death, died 2 hours after being bitten Daily Telegraph, 12 March 2007
  14. ^ Snake bite victim dies SMH, 15 January 2007
  15. ^ a b c d "Snakebite deaths in Western Australia 1980-2010". Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  16. ^ "16 Sep 1946 - CHILD DIES OF SNAKE BITE SYDNEY, The Canberra Times". 1946-09-16. Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  17. ^ Fatal Snake Bite, treatment delayed Argus 15 Oct 1940
  18. ^ Fatal snake bite Canberra Times 13 Feb 1932
  19. ^ Tense scene at inquest, Doctor's treatment questioned Canberra Times, 12 Mar 1932
  20. ^ Fatal snake bite 27 Aug 1930
  21. ^ Fatal Snake bite 25 Feb 1930
  22. ^ Snake-bite kills child Argus, 3 November 1928
  23. ^ Death from snake bite, Camper and Tiger Snake Argus, 31 Dec 1925
  24. ^ Fatal Snake bite Argus 4 Dec 1917
  25. ^ Death from snake-bite Argus, 30 November 1915
  26. ^ Fatal snake-bite, a schoolboy's death, Argus 22 Mar 1910
  27. ^ Fatal Snake-bite Argus 20 Jan 1910
  28. ^ Fatal Snake bite Argus, 26 Feb 1909
  29. ^ Fatal Snake-bite Argus 11 Dec 1908
  30. ^ Snake bite Argus 7 Dec 1908
  31. ^ Fatal snakebite Argus 27 Aug 1907
  32. ^ Boy dies from snakebite 14 Nov 1906
  33. ^ Fatal case of snake-bite The Advertiser, 1 Nov 1902
  34. ^ Fatal snake bite Argus 9 Nov 1900
  35. ^ Fatal Snake bite 26 Nov 1900
  36. ^ Fatal snake bite West Australian
  37. ^ A fatal snake bite Argus 23 Jan 1899
  38. ^ Fatal case of snake-bite Argus 9 Jan 1899
  39. ^ A fatal snake bite West Australian, 24 Sep 1898
  40. ^ Child bitten while asleep 14 Jan 1896
  41. ^ Fatal snake bite Brisbane Courier 16 Feb 1895
  42. ^ Fatal case of snake-bite Argus, 26 April 1893
  43. ^ Fatal case of snake bite 25 Feb 1887
  44. ^ Fatal snake bite Argus 6 Dec 1878
  45. ^ The Fatal case of snake-poisoning at swan hill Argus 10 Dec 1875

External links[edit]