This page has been robot translated, sorry for typos if any. Original content here.

On bites of poisonous snakes and spiders

Об укусах ядовитых змей и пауков

Participants of the current events in the Donbass began to worry about the problems associated with possible bites of poisonous snakes.

Many volunteers try to provide the defenders of Ukraine with a "panacea" - antimezine serum; someone from the participants fear of snakes prevents solve the tasks.

Here is given: firstly, a sufficiently detailed description of dangerous and non-dangerous snakes; secondly, an explanation of what to do with a snakebite; thirdly, information about karakurt and their bites, and, finally, a short squeeze from the verbose part of the text.

Poisonous and non-venomous snakes

Об укусах ядовитых змей и пауков
Steppe viper on images with varying degrees of detail. That it should be wary of the participants of the ATO in the first place

The participants of the ATO and those responsible for their health began to worry about the possibility of snake bites. This was to be expected: 2014 was a mouse year (with a high number of rodents), and in 2015, the number of vipers increased dramatically. It is vipers that are the only snakes in Ukraine that are dangerous to humans. They inhabit almost the entire territory of the country. Simplifying it a little, one can say that an ordinary viper (Vipera berus) lives in Polesye, Nikolsky's viper (Vipera nikolskii) lives in the Forest-Steppe, and a steppe viper (Vipera renardi, older name - Vipera ursinii) in the Steppe. All the rest, except for vipers, snakes of Ukraine do not pose a danger to humans (at least from the point of view of their virulence). It is important to emphasize that the steppe viper and the viper Nikolsky are listed in the Red Book of Ukraine. The use of their habitats should be strictly regulated by law, their destruction is prohibited (and punishable by fines). This is quite natural; For example, the steppe ecosystem is an interconnected whole, and the steppe viper is its important part.

Thus, the only dangerous snake in the steppe areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions is the steppe viper. It is small (length with a tail does not exceed 65 cm), not very mobile snake with a very characteristic appearance. On the light background of her torso there are scattered dark spots that often line up in a zigzag pattern. Young vipers eat insects, then lizards. The main food of adult vipers is mouse-like rodents and small birds. If the weather is cool enough, the viper is more likely to meet well-warmed places; in the heat, the vipers carry the peak of their activity to a less hot time. They hunt mostly at night, sitting in an ambush near those places where there are many chances to meet the victim. The viper bites the mouse, injects poison into it and then releases it. The smell of the bitten mouse changes. The adder will walk along the smell trail, will find and eat the mouse, which is already digested from the inside by the poison introduced into it when bitten. From what follows, a recommendation suggests how to reduce the chances of encountering a viper: there should be as few mice as possible where people are. To reduce the number of mice, you should remove the available human food and its remnants, as well as clean the shelter, which can hide the mouse. By the way, it is very useful from an epidemiological point of view.

In the areas of forest-steppe along the Seversky Donets, you can find another type of vipers - Nikolsky's viper. It differs from the other two of our species in coal black color. And in Polesie inhabits the common viper with a fairly diverse color, but the inevitable "viper" appearance. All our vipers are small, not very mobile, rather thick snakes. Their heads are extended posteriorly, the back half of the head is covered with scales, and not with large shields.

Об укусах ядовитых змей и пауков
Two varieties of common viper color (left and middle) and Nikolsky viper (right)

The local population of southern Ukraine is often afraid of the yellow-bellied or Caspian snake (Dolichophys caspius). This is a large and mobile snake, which sometimes reaches 2.5 meters. Its color is monochromatic (in young individuals there are unsharp spots). The yellow-bellied snake is practically the only snake in Ukraine that can attack a person “on its own initiative”; he bends with a spring and makes sharp attacks, sometimes biting in the face. Such an attack makes a strong impression on a person, and after a sharp attack, the yellow-bellied runner has time to escape safely. Its bite is safe; minimal damage to the skin, which cause his short thin teeth, can be neglected. Stories about 1.5 meter vipers, "cobras" in the south of Ukraine (which turn out to be Caspian runners), fears of coppers and other harmless snakes are connected simply with the illiteracy of people and the remarkable property of snakes to wake the imagination.

Об укусах ядовитых змей и пауков
And this is the only serpent in Ukraine that can attack a man herself, a yellow-bellied snake. If you bite him, you don’t need to do anything (well, you can sanitize your wounds to clear your conscience)

Probably the most common snake in the south of Ukraine is the water snake (Natrix tessellata). This is a water snake specialized in fish nutrition. Its coloring is very changeable. A typical case is that darker spots are scattered on a dark or light brown or sandy background; monophonic and even almost black water snakes are found. Stories about snakes that swim in the water (and even more so - feed on fish and take fish caught in the water) snakes are stories about water snakes. Vipers can swim, but they rarely enter the water (especially steppe vipers) and try to get out of there quickly.

Об укусах ядовитых змей и пауков
All this - water snakes. They are completely harmless!

How to avoid the viper bite?

By itself, attacking a human viper will not under any circumstances. Alas, this snake is not very mobile, and it can be in a situation where a person will pose a real or seeming threat to it. In this case, it will be protected by a bite. In order not to suffer from the viper's bite, where there can be snakes - do not walk barefoot, look under your feet, do not collect items on the ground, in the grass, in the bushes.

High shoes, loose clothing made of thick fabric, gloves made of thick leather reliably protect against an accidental viper bite (and from many other troubles, like spines and stinging insects).

If you meet a viper, she just needs to be given the opportunity to get out. If the viper is on your way, you can just stomp your foot on the ground, and she will try to escape. In the most extreme case, the viper can be picked up with a stick (at least half a meter) and thrown aside.

Snake poison action and relief of the bitten state

Об укусах ядовитых змей и пауков

The active ingredients of snake venom are proteins. These are several different toxins, the task of which is to ensure the penetration of the poison into the bloodstream and cause a reaction destructive to the victim’s body. A significant part of the pathological symptoms of a viper bite is associated with the work of their own defense systems of the bitten organism. Without going into details, the reaction to the bite can be divided into local and systemic (common). Among the local is the damage and death of tissues at the site of the bite, the development of edema. The blood plasma leaves the bloodstream, the blood thickens, blood cells can collapse, and the likelihood of blood clots dramatically increases. Regulatory substances that contribute to the development of a protective reaction are distinguished, of which histamine is the most important. Its sharp selection significantly worsens the overall picture. The volume of the circulating blood decreases, heart failure develops. It is important to emphasize that if a viper living in Ukraine bit an adult, the bite was not inflicted on the head or neck, and there are no aggravating circumstances (like “folk” treatment methods - cauterization, dissection, over-exertion, etc.) bitten virtually absent. However, it is quite a serious disease requiring specific treatment.

If the bite is made through clothing, it is necessary to free up the bite and remove the poison that may be on the clothing and skin.

Immediately after the bite, it is desirable to begin the exhaustion of the poison from the wound left by serpentine teeth. It is stated that a quick and proper exhaustion can remove 40%, or even more, of the dose received. The poison can be sucked by mouth, often spitting and rinsing the mouth with water; in the presence of wounds in the mouth, it is undesirable to suck out the poison. There are special devices for sucking poison, but most likely, they will not be at hand. You can suck out the poison with an ordinary plastic syringe, the front of which is exactly cut with a knife so that it fits snugly to the skin around the bite site. After the onset of edema or after 5–15 minutes, exhaustion should be stopped (the venom has already spread quite widely by this time). Given future swelling, rings, watch bracelets, etc. the bitten limbs must be removed. Massage of the bite site and its mobility should be minimized (during the exhaustion of the venom it is possible to massage the bitten area towards the wound).

Categorically should not: make cuts at the site of the bite, cauterize it with hot objects, apply cold, apply pressure bandages. All these actions will exacerbate local tissue damage, lead to large areas of tissue death, body poisoning with decay products and other troubles. It is also harmful that the clinical picture is facilitated by alcoholic beverages (of course, you can be pumped up to a state of insensitivity, but defeat by the poison of a viper will only aggravate it). After sucking (or without it) you just need to disinfect the bite site with some of the antiseptics, cover it with a clean cloth and try to keep it calm and cool. You can put a splint on the affected limb to immobilize it and reduce the lymphatic outflow (with which venom is carried throughout the body). It is important to do this so as not to overwhelm the swelling limb, which can lead to pain and local lesions. Ultimately, the tissues at the site of the bite will attempt to bind snake venom proteins and will fight for their survival.

Yevgeny Komarovsky (in the video, which is lower, after the 12th minute) recommends bandaging the bitten limb to reduce lymph flow. The bitten limb must be below head level.

It is essential that a panicked or simply excited state of a bitten person substantially worsens his condition. The bitten one must be explained that there is no threat to his life; he, unfortunately, ran into trouble, and after that his task was to lie quietly in a cool place, drink more, often urinate, doze more, and calmly wait for his body to cope with the effects of a snake venom. Unfortunately, the myths about the "terrible power of the poison of snakes" interfere with this. Consider that the bite of even the most terrible species of snakes that lived in the USSR or in Afghanistan, such as the gyurza (Macrovipera lebetina), was not a death sentence at all. With the bite of a gurza without any treatment, 85% of the victims survived. Snakes that kill most of the bitten ones are found only in the tropics of Eurasia and on other continents; snakes whose bite would leave no chance of survival do not exist. As for the vipers of our country, the cases of the death of adults from their bite (and not from the barbaric methods of "treatment") are completely unknown.

An important question is whether to use antimeasure serum? If the bitten gets into the hospital, where it will be possible to enter it, he will almost certainly get it. The fact is that a typical doctor is afraid of “undermining” and not doing something that he could, in a state where the patient is in danger. If there is a serum, it will also be injected if there are indications for its introduction, and when they are not (so that the doctor does not have to make excuses later that he did not do everything he could). Serum is an antibody (immune protein) of a horse that was injected with snake venom. These antibodies recognize specific poison proteins and bind to them in complexes, which are then absorbed by protective cells. But, anyway, the introduction of serum is the introduction bitten by a significant amount of foreign protein. This protein can cause an acute reaction up to anaphylactic shock (a deadly condition that requires resuscitation procedures and difficult treatment). In fact, serum binds snake venom, but in some respects can trigger similar (and even more acute) reactions of the patient. If the bite is life threatening, all means are good, including serum; if there is no threat to life (and also in the case when qualified medical care and a sufficiently long observation in the hospital are unlikely or impossible), it is better to do without serum.

In the above, there is one difficulty. The decision to abandon any therapeutic action can be taken either by a very qualified doctor or the patient himself. If there is an opportunity to inject a serum and ensure normal observation in the hospital, perhaps we should agree with the doctor who proposes to do so. However, when the author of these lines in the Donetsk region was bitten by a steppe viper, he initially refused hospitalization and was treated himself, and then, when (at the insistence of the reserve director in which it happened), he still went to the hospital, he withstood the pressure of doctors and gave a subscription that voluntarily refuses the introduction of serum. Regret it did not have to. In a situation of hostilities or their threat, qualified medical assistance may not be available. In such conditions, if there is no threat to life, the abandonment of serum seems possible and probably justified.

And how to alleviate the condition of the bitten?

To alleviate the condition of the patient is very important antihistamines . In case of a viper bite, the maximum single dose allowed for this drug should be taken. Dr. Komarovsky advises loratadine or cetirizine . You can use other drugs. For example, if we are talking about diazolin tablets containing 100 mg of the active substance, the maximum single dose of this drug is 300 mg and the maximum daily dose is 600 mg, then immediately after the bite you should take 3 tablets, and then, after 8, 16 and 24 hours - another pill.

Relieve the condition can the introduction of a hormonal anti-inflammatory drug. Dr. Komarovsky advises dexamethasone . Finally, after a bite, it is useful to drink plenty of fluids, preferably so as to sweat (do not drink through force, but the flow of fluids should be sufficient and abundant). A significant flow of water will improve the condition of the blood and lead to an enhanced work of the kidneys (and sweat glands), which promote self-purification of body fluids. You can drink tea, and you can and the appropriate salt solutions (like rehydron ).

Previously, a patient bitten by a snake was recommended to inject intravenous calcium chloride (as a means of increasing the resistance of blood cells) and magnesia (as a means against heart failure). Dr. Komarovsky claims that now these measures can be considered irrelevant. All other actions that must be performed with the bitten are simply symptomatic treatment, which should alleviate his condition. Taking pain-relieving tablets (like paracetamol) is undesirable.

Are the measures described here sufficient?

It seems to many volunteers that if they get an ampoule of imported whey countermeasure, they will save the life of a fighter. In fact, the method of action described here has been repeatedly tested by professionals who work with snakes (and is somewhat modified in accordance with the advice of modern medina of emergency conditions). It is quite sufficient for the cases of the bite of a healthy man by the viper in the leg or arm. If the bitten goes to the hospital, it will be treated differently. They will inject a serum (at least for the sake of reinsurance), but, on the other hand, they will be more professional in monitoring the state of the cardiovascular system, they will better carry out symptomatic treatment. If there is an opportunity to lie in a hospital, you can go for it; if not, it is easier to use the experience of professionals who use the described measures and remain healthy.

Poisonous spiders and their bites

Об укусах ядовитых змей и пауков
Karakurt and his hole

No less important problem than poisonous snakes, for participants of the ATO can be poisonous spiders, more precisely - one, the most dangerous of their kind. This is Karakurt ( Latrodectus tredecimguttatus ). A karakurt bite is no less dangerous than a viper bite; all other spiders of Ukraine, if they can bite through the skin, are no more dangerous than wasps and bees.

In general, karakurt looks rather ominous: it is a rounded black spider, on the abdomen of which there may be small red or white markings. The female is larger than the male (1-2 centimeters); only she represents a significant danger. Karakurt is a settled spider. His cobweb is located in secluded places, in the holes of rodents and the depressions of the soil. In the heat of mid-summer, spiders can move around, looking for a new place for themselves (and just looking for coolness). In such a situation, they can crawl into the folds of clothing lying on the ground, into tents, and into other places where they can contact people.

How to avoid bite of karakurt?

Clothes and shoes lying on the ground in the availability of spiders should be inspected before putting on; fasten the mosquito canopy of the tent. When moving along the steppe and desert areas, attention should be paid to small spider nets in the depressions of the earth and on small slopes. Sitting down and lying on the ground should it, as far as possible, inspect. It is very dangerous to fumble with unprotected hands in places where there can be karakurt. Having found a spider on yourself, you should not try to crush it (bite!); it needs to be carefully dropped with a sharp movement. In those situations when body contact with the soil surface and grass thickets is unavoidable, it is necessary to protect the skin with dense clothing.

Karakurt bite

The poison of karakurt is neurotoxic; local bite events are mild, but systemic manifestations can be quite serious. For the effects of the bite of this spider is characterized by severe pain, deterioration of health, up to loss of consciousness and delirium. General weakness, as a result of the effects of the bite, can persist for up to a month (that is, much more than after the bite of the viper). With the bite of karakurt poison is introduced into the skin to a small depth (up to 0.5 mm). In accordance with this, the following remedy is recommended: for 1-2 minutes, press the head of the match (or three matches) to the bite site, and light them from the burning match, continuing to press them to the skin . Believe me, this tool does not require any heroism (the author tried it!). You can also cauterize the bite of a burning cigarette. After 2 minutes, these actions lose their meaning (the poison has time to spread).

Unlike snake bites, when you bite a karakurt, you can use analgesia with paracetamol or ibuprofen, you can apply cold. The rest is like a snake bite. Immobilization (can be bandaged) limbs. Drink plenty of water. Antihistamines ( loratadine or cetirizine ). Hormonal anti-inflammatory agent ( dexamethasone ).

Unfortunately, after a bite of karakurt (especially if the poison was not treated with a shallow burn), adverse symptoms of the cardiovascular system are possible. The author does not feel entitled to describe those therapeutic actions that should be performed in such a situation. A bitten karakurt bite, if it continues to have an unfavorable condition (for example, heart failure), it is advisable to bring it to a physician who will conduct the necessary symptomatic treatment.


If you have to work or fight in the conditions of the steppes of southern Ukraine, sort out what a steppe viper looks like: a small clumsy snake with a dark zigzag on a lighter background. In the forest-steppe one can see the coal black snake of Nikolsky. They should not be afraid, but we must protect ourselves from their bites. Protect yourself with tight clothing, shoes, gloves. To reduce the likelihood of encountering vipers, do not attract mice to your location.

When the viper bites: suck poison mouth (rinsing the mouth with water and spitting) or a syringe. Immobilize the limb, removing what can transmit it; can be softly bandaged. Do not cauterize, do not cut, do not drink alcohol and pain pills! Take an antihistamine drug (loratadine, cetirizine, etc.), hormonal anti-inflammatory drug (dexametozon). Bitten - to lie at rest, do not be afraid of anything, do not move the affected limb, drink plenty of water (rehydron solution, tea ...). In the future - symptomatic treatment, with serious problems with cardiac activity - contacting a doctor.

In the steppe, especially in the heat, beware of karakurt! These are black, round-bodied spiders, on which there may be white or red markings. Keep an eye on secluded places, revealing a web; inspect clothing and shoes that a spider could crawl into; button the canopy of the tent. Use thick clothes.

When karakurt bite, cauterize the bite site no later than in 2 minutes! Squeeze 1, 2 or 3 matchstick heads on the skin and set them on fire. Take an antihistamine drug (loratadine, cetirizine, etc.), a hormonal anti-inflammatory drug (dexametozon), or you can use painkillers (paracetamol, ibuprofen). Bitten - to lie at rest, do not be afraid of anything, do not move the affected limb, drink plenty of water (rehydron solution, tea ...). In the future - symptomatic treatment, with serious problems with cardiac activity - contacting a doctor.

Have an antihistamine drug (useful in many cases), for example, loratadine or cetirizine, and a hormonal anti-inflammatory agent, such as dexamethasone, as well as a syringe, matches, and saline (rehydron). Always carry matches!

Good luck and health!