Danger in the bush : things that bite or sting

Keep safe out walking - snakes, ticks, stinging trees and other dangers

Always pack a first aid kit, but just as important is first aid education!


  • Snakes are more active in spring and summer. Keep a look out for snakes. If you encounter a snake avoid sudden movement (stand still) and back off quietly and wait for it to leave.
  • If someone is bitten, first remove from danger (no need to catch or kill it, not to identify it). Immobilise patient, apply a pressure bandage eg Setopress, call 000 for urgent help or activate your PLB. Do not walk out. More information on snake bite
  • Dogs are curious by nature and have a natural hunting instinct that puts them in danger. You may not see the snake that bites your dog. Keep your dog on a leash in state forests. Keep your dog still and take her to a vet as soon as possible if you suspect a snake bite. More information on dogs and snake bite


  • If you suspect a funnel web spider bite, immobilise, apply pressure bandage and call 000 for help or activate your PLB. Do not walk out. For other bites, apply a cold pack or compression bandage and seek help.
  • More information on spider bites


  • Ticks love bushy and long grass areas. Carry tick spray and Lyclear in your first aid kit, and check your whole body when you get home for a shower.
  • Remember the treatment rules: “Freeze don’t squeeze” with your Tick Spray for adult ticks, and “Dab don’t jab” with Lyclear for the tiny nymphs.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants and a hat in tick country. Clothes with permethrin provide some protection.
  • Ensure your dog is up to date with tick prevention and check their skin when you get home.
  • More information on tick bites



  • Leech bites bleed and leave itchy red welts, but are otherwise usually harmless. If you don’t want to wait for the satiated leech to drop off, remove them by flicking them off after breaking the suction with a fingertip. Other methods are salt, matches, meths, but the good old flick is far more humane and easier.
  • Strategies that may help you avoid too many leeches include spraying repellent around shoes and socks – Bushmans Naturals lemon eucalyptus extract is proven to work for six hours. I make regular inspections and wear lighter coloured socks, shoes and gaiters so leeches are easier to spot and remove.

Stinging Trees

  • The leaves, stems, fruit of stinging trees have teeny hairs that inject neurotoxins causing extreme pain. Stinging trees have large heart shaped leaves, often (but not always with holes in them), serrated edges and white or red berry like fruit. Learn to recognise a stinging tree!
  • Do not rub or scratch the stung area. Sticky tape or hair removal wax can help remove the hairs. Paw paw ointment may help breakdown the protein.
  • More information on stinging trees
  • Other nasty plants include nettles which cause rashes, Wait-a-while Vines with their prickly hooks, and absolutely no one likes lantana weeds.
  • Dogs are also affected by stinging trees, nettles and vines, so look out for your dog if you take it walking.

Beach dangers

  • Living on the Coffs Coast, we do a lot of beach walking. Dead puffer fish are still poisonous – keep your dog away from them. Likewise, don’t let your dog eat or play with bluebottles or other jellyfish washed up on the beach, they can still sting when dead.

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