Glasgow & West Scotland

Snake warning as boy, 3, has second surgery after bite

Adder
Image caption An adder basks on a path

Scots are being warned to be vigilant after a 3-year-old boy was bitten by a snake in Argyll.

Tobi Vyskocil is recovering from a second surgery after an adder bit his foot while he played in his garden in Argyll on Monday.

His father Martin Vyskocil confirmed the boy was still in hospital on Thursday with his mother Lucia by his side.

Snake experts say the hot weather has increased encounters with snakes.

Emergency services were called at about 16:30 on Monday after reports a three-year-old boy was bitten on the foot at Minard near Inveraray.

The boy was originally taken to Lorn & Islands Hospital in Oban and later transferred to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow where he is still receiving treatment.

The incident has prompted fear over increased sightings of snakes during the recent heatwave.

But reptile and amphibian expert Angie Julian says there are not more snakes, it is just that people are coming into contact with them more.

'Bask in the sun'

She told BBC Scotland's Kaye Adams Programme: "Conditions are leading to the increase in sightings.

"Snakes are reptiles which are cold blooded, so in order to warm up and function they have to lie out or bask in the sun.

"That gives them the energy to go and hunt or mate or whatever they want to do.

"With the unseasonably warm weather people are coming out as well - to sunbathe and enjoy the hot weather - and I think it is bringing them together.

"It is possible the snakes have always been there but because the weather's normally been cooler, there have been fewer to encounter in Scotland."

Dog owner Tracey Hunter is concerned about an increase in snake sightings at her home on Islay.

Image copyright Bryan Doherty
Image caption Bryan Doherty found this adder on a path next to Loch an Eilein

She said: "I am terrified of them but more worried about a dog. I've seen bits of shed snake skin on the path as I walk my dog in the morning.

"I am aware there have been a couple of people whose dogs have been bitten on Islay this summer already.

"Because of the hot weather, they do like basking out on the path. But I have a spaniel who is very nosey and I am scared. I do know the snakes are more scared of us but it makes me nervous. Its on my mind every day when I go out."

Angie Julian says there are only two snakes people are likely to see in Scotland. The non-venomous grass snake is very rare but has been found in Dumfriesshire, and the adder.

'Don't touch'

She says there are ways to try to avoid them if people do come across them.

She said: "If you're walking in an area where there might be adders, make a lot of noise and kick up the ground, because they will feel those vibrations and try to get out of the way.

"If you see an adder, don't disturb it and definitely don't touch them.

"Step out of the way and give it a little chance on its own to move away. If it doesn't, just skirt around it. It's not going to attack or chase you."

What to do after a snake bite

Immediately after being bitten by a snake you should:

  • remain calm and don't panic - snake bites, particularly those that occur in the UK, usually aren't serious and are only very rarely deadly
  • try to remember the shape, size and colour of the snake
  • keep the part of your body that's been bitten as still as possible to prevent the venom spreading around your body
  • remove jewellery and watches from the bitten limb as they could cut into your skin if the limb swells
  • do not attempt to remove any clothing, but loosen clothing if possible
  • seek immediate medical attention

Source: NHS

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