Poland is home to a variety of reptile species, including the venomous vipers. While encounters with snakes are relatively rare, it’s important to be aware of their presence and know how to react in case of a snakebite. This article aims to provide valuable information about vipers in Poland and offer guidance on what to do if you find yourself bitten by one.
There are two venomous viper species found in Poland: the common European adder (Vipera berus) and the rare and protected Orsini’s viper (Vipera ursinii). The common European adder is more widespread and can be found in various habitats across the country, including forests, meadows, and heathlands. Orsini’s viper, on the other hand, has a limited distribution, mainly inhabiting sand dunes along the Baltic coast.
It is crucial to be able to identify vipers correctly. Common European adders have a distinctive pattern with a dark zigzag stripe running down their backs, while their coloration can vary from grayish to reddish-brown. Orsini’s vipers are generally smaller, have a zigzag pattern that is less pronounced, and are typically a grayish-brown color.
If you are unfortunate enough to be bitten by a viper, it’s important to remain calm and take immediate action. The symptoms of snakebite may vary depending on factors such as the species, the location of the bite, and the individual’s reaction to the venom. However, common symptoms include:
- Immediate pain and swelling at the site of the bite.
- Redness and bruising around the bite area.
- Nausea, dizziness, and sweating.
- Rapid pulse and difficulty breathing (in severe cases).
The recommended steps to follow if you are bitten by a snake:
- Stay calm: Panicking can increase your heart rate and accelerate the spread of venom.
- Move away: Slowly and carefully distance yourself from the snake to avoid further bites.
- Seek medical help: Call emergency services or go to the nearest hospital immediately. Remember to inform them about the snakebite.
- Immobilize the affected area: Keep the bitten limb still and below the level of your heart to slow down venom circulation.
- Remove constrictive items: Take off any tight clothing, jewelry, or accessories near the bite area, as swelling may occur.
- Do not suck or cut the wound: These traditional methods are not effective and can lead to further complications.
- Apply a pressure bandage: Use a sterile bandage or cloth to apply firm pressure directly over the bite, covering the entire limb if possible.
- Monitor vital signs: Keep an eye on your breathing, pulse rate, and overall condition until medical professionals arrive.
Safety measures to follow:
- Wear appropriate footwear: When walking in natural areas, use sturdy shoes or boots that cover your ankles.
- Stay on designated paths: Avoid walking through tall grass, dense vegetation, or rocky areas where snakes may be hiding.
- Be cautious around logs and rocks: Snakes may seek shelter beneath these objects, so avoid placing your hands or feet where you can’t see.
- Use a flashlight at night: When walking in areas where snakes may be active, illuminate your path to avoid surprises.
- Do not disturb or handle snakes: Give snakes their space and appreciate them from a safe distance.