Vipera palaestinae - hide your dogs! 😱😱😱
Vipera palaestinae, also known under her newer scientific classification Daboia palaestinae, is the by far most common snake to potentially injure your pet in central and northern Israel.
South of Beersheba and in the northern parts of the Golan other snakes can also pose a risk, but if you live inbetween the Palestinian Viper is the one you need to watch out for.
The Palestinian Viper is mainly active in the evening/ at night and can grow up to 1,3m long. It is generally not an aggressive snake, but will defend itself if bothered.
Dogs are curious animals and if they see something slithering around in the dirt, they'll usually investigate by putting their snout right up against it.
This is why most snake bites occur in dog's face and neck area, but occasionally a dog will accidentaly step on a snake and get bitten on his leg.
Contrary to what most people believe, getting bitten in the face is actually safer than getting bitten in one of the limbs. See the large blood vessels that run through the face are actually sitting relatively deeply below muscle, fat and subcutaneous tissue. These tissues can "absorb" the snakes venom and prevent it from spreading to the victim's central blood system.
The major blood vessels in the limbs are much more superficial and as such can be an easier target for the snake and cause graver damages to the entire circulatory system.
Unsurprisingly cats get bitten by snakes much more rarely, mainly because they're more careful in whom they choose to tease and are better at evading oncoming attacks.
The snakes venom is most potent at the beginning of the summer, so injuries and fatalities are the highest in April and May.
Owners that don't see the snake directly will typically report that the dog squealed and suddenly jumped or ran off.
These are the symptoms you might see if your dog or cat has been bitten:
- Bite marks (only visible in around 50% of cases)
- Swelling, bleeding or subcutaneous hemmorhage at the bite site
- Fast pulse and fast breathing
- Increased Salivation
- Limping (if the bite occured on one of the legs)
- Loss of consciousness (in bad cases)
- Bloody stool
If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, consider it to be an emergency that needs immediate veterinary care.
Try to calm your animal down and do not try to suck out, remove or somehow block the venom (do not apply a tourniquet).
If your dog has been bitten in the face or neck remove his collar in case there is swelling.
With fast and adequate treatment your pet will have a high chance of survival and full recovery.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us!
Your Israeli Vet,
Dr. Eliott Reich