Dog fights for life after snake bite

AN Ipswich pet owner today spoke of her dog's fight for life after he was bitten by a snake in a town park.

AN Ipswich pet owner today spoke of her dog's fight for life after he was bitten by a snake in a town park.

Five year old Bailey, a fit and healthy English Springer Spaniel, was bitten by an adder as he rooted around in undergrowth in Chantry Park.

Owner Tanya Lusher said her dog had been playing as normal when he suddenly reared up yelping in pain.

She said: “I heard a rustle in the bush and had a good look but didn't actually see anything. We went home and by the time we had got there his side of his face and neck had swollen and looked like he had a big grapefruit inside his mouth.”

Ms Lusher took Bailey to the Barn Veterinary Practice at Ashcroft Road - where he has been fighting for life since.

Vet Lucinda Carr said it was clear Bailey had been bitten by a snake as there were two puncture marks on his face.

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She called Ipswich Hospital to see if medics stocked anti-venom which is effective on animals as well as humans, but was told there was none available.

Ms Carr said: “Snake bites are very rare in this area - this is the first time we have dealt with in two years.”

Ms Lusher, who was concerned to hear there was no anti-venom kept at Ipswich Hospital, said she returned to the spot where Bailey was bitten and had seen an adder there.

Hospital spokeswoman Jan Rowsell said serum for snake bites was kept at strategic locations around the country and taken to hospitals when necessary.

She added: “Fortunately incidents of people being bitten by adders or other snakes are very rare - we cannot remember the last time we dealt with one in Ipswich.”

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said rangers had never seen an adder in that part of the park, but notices had been put up to warn that they might be about.

He said: “People should be aware that adders are not aggressive and will only attack if they are startled. Their bite is not dangerous to adults, but people should always seek urgent medical attention if they are bitten.”

Anyone concerned about adders in the park should contact the rangers on 01473 433993 or 433000.

Adder factfile:

- In Britain an average of 100 people a year are bitten by adders.

- Since 1876 14 people in Britain have been killed by adders - the last, a young child, was in 1975.

- Adders are the only poisonous snake in Britain.

- They are active between March and October - and are usually only seen when basking in the sun.

JOHN Baker from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust was surprised to hear about the adder in Chantry Park.

They are being squeezed into smaller and smaller areas - and are now something of a rarity in most of the county

“Their numbers have declined over the years and they are now really only found on the Suffolk Sandlings near the coast and in Thetford Forest. Chantry Park is not natural adder habitat.

“The injury described is typical of the kind of injury you will get from an adder, though. The only thing I can think is that adders have been released on the bank of the A14 and made their way to the park.

“I can't believe anyone would release adders in an Ipswich park - but I can't see how one could have got their naturally.”