Venomous Snake Bites: What to Do When Disaster Strikes

By Bailey Hu, May 29, 2019

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Summer is upon us in the PRD, and along with blistering heat and sky-high humidity comes another unwelcome guest: snakes.

A Surge in Snakebites

From May to October, snakes tend to proliferate throughout the city, especially on muggy days or after heavy rains. From July 11-20 in 2016, for instance, emergency centers in the city reported an alarming eight cases of poisonous snakebites. Most victims were in parks when they were attacked.

Below, find out how to avoid being bitten in the first place as well as what to do if a snake strikes.


  • Be vigilant when exercising outside at night or in the early morning, especially after it rains

  • Avoid large patches of tall grass or vegetation that may conceal snakes; also, watch your hands and feet when moving around big rocks and logs

  • If in a risky area, wear long pants and boots

  • When navigating a plant-dense area, try using a stick to probe and tap the ground before you step, which may help scare snakes away

  • If you spot a snake, back away slowly

What to Do If You’ve Been Bitten

  • Immediately call 120 for emergency care

  • Try to remember the color and pattern of the snake (see below for examples of poisonous snakes), which may help with treatment

  • While waiting for help, stay as calm and still as possible

  • Lie or sit down so that the bite is below the level of your heart

  • Cover the wound with a clean, dry dressing or bandage

What Not to Do If You’ve Been Bitten

  • We shouldn’t have to say this, but – don’t try to catch the snake afterwards

  • Don’t attempt to cut the wound or suck out the venom

  • Do not use a tourniquet or otherwise cut off circulation above the bite

  • Don’t ice the wound, and avoid immersing it in water

Poisonous Snake Identification

Below are some varieties of poisonous snakes, along with their Chinese names, found in the Pearl River Delta.

Chinese bamboo viper, 竹叶青 (zhu ye qing)

Image via Wikimedia

Banded krait, 金环蛇 (jin huan she)

banded krait snake
Image via Wikimedia

Many-banded krait, 银环蛇 (yin huan she)

Image via Wikimedia

Long-nosed pit viper, 五步蛇 (wu bu she)

viper snake
Image via Wikimedia

Cobra/Chinese cobra, 眼睛蛇/眼睛王蛇 (yan jing sheyan jing wang she)

Image via Wikimedia

This article was originally published on July 26, 2016. It was updated and republished on May 29, 2019.

[Cover image via Wikimedia]

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