Summary

  • When returning to a flood-affected area remember that wild animals, including rodents, snakes or spiders, may be
    trapped in your home, shed or garden.
  • If you have been bitten by a snake get immediate medical attention by calling triple zero (000).
  • If you have been bitten or injured by an animal or insect seek advice from your doctor.

Sand bags holding back flood waters at the front of a house

When returning to a flood-affected area remember that wild animals, including rats, mice, snakes or spiders, may be trapped in your home, shed or garden.

After a flood – general tips

  • Do not approach wild or stray animals. For advice about dealing with animals contact your local council, animal shelter or vet.
  • Store away all food to avoid attracting rats and mice (for example, store food in containers with secure lids).
  • Watch out for snakes.
  • Mosquitoes can breed rapidly in stagnant waters and become a nuisance. Take precautions to control mosquitos around your home.
  • Remove pets and other animals that have died as soon as possible. For advice on safe disposal speak to your local council or vet.

Floods  dealing with snakes

Snakes can lose their home during a flood. As a result, they may look for shelter and food inside houses, storage sheds and other buildings. Damaged structures and debris are more accessible to snakes.

When outdoors:

  • Wear sturdy work boots and gloves, and long pants to protect your legs.
  • Watch where you place your hands and feet when removing or cleaning up debris.
  • If you see a snake, step back from it slowly and allow it to proceed on its way. Do not touch it.
  • Remove debris from around your home as soon as practically possible because it can attract rodents, lizards and insects on which snakes feed.
  • Be aware of snakes that may be swimming in the water trying to get to higher ground.

When indoors:

  • If you find a snake in your house, do not panic.
  • Seek advice from someone who knows how to safely remove the snake. Contact the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on 136 186 for names of the nearest licensed snake catcher.

If you are bitten by a snake:

  • Do not wash the skin around the bite.
  • Keep still and calm, and get medical help quickly by calling triple zero (000).
  • If you cannot get to a hospital right away, apply first aid – lay or sit down with the bite below the level of your
    heart. Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing or bandage and, if possible, splint the limb.
  • If possible write down the time of the bite and when the bandage was applied.
  • Do not apply a tourniquet, cut the bite to release the venom or try to suck the venom out of the wound.

Floods  spiders

If you are bitten by a red-back spider:

  • Wash the affected area well and soothe the pain with ice packs or clean iced water.
  • Applying pressure is not recommended for red-back spider bites and often worsens the pain.
  • Find immediate medical help.

For other spider bites:

  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cold pack if the bite is painful.
  • For most spider bites, no other first aid is necessary.
  • Contact your doctor if symptoms develop or persist.

Floods  rats and mice

Rodents (such as mice and rats) carry diseases and are a nuisance. To avoid rats and mice after a flood:

  • Remove food and items that can provide shelter for rodents.
  • Wash dishes and cooking utensils immediately after use.
  • Get rid of garbage and debris as soon as possible by placing it into a rubbish bin with a lid prior to collection and disposal.
  • Lay rodent baits or traps in dry areas, following the label directions and keep them out of reach of children and animals.

After a flood – avoiding mosquitoes 

Rain and flooding may lead to an increase in mosquito numbers as water subsides and pools form. In Victoria, some mosquitoes can carry diseases such as Ross River virus or Barmah Forest virus, which can be passed on to people through mosquito bites.

Things to do to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Wear long pants, socks and long-sleeved shirts, and apply an insect repellent containing N, N-diethyl-mtoluamide (DEET) or pircaridin to your skin.
  • Follow the directions on the repellent’s product label.
  • Take care when using repellents on small children. Avoid parts of children’s hands that may touch their eyes or mouth.

To help control mosquito populations around your home:

  • If practical, drain any water left standing outdoors in open containers such as flowerpots, unused tins, tyres or buckets.
  • Change your pet’s drinking water regularly.

After a flood – dealing with flies

If food and garbage builds up, this becomes a breeding ground for flies. This is a problem, as flies carry diseases and are a nuisance. To avoid this, clean up food waste as soon as possible by placing it into a rubbish bin with a lid prior to collection and disposal. 

Where to get help

  • If you have been bitten by a snake get immediate medical attention by calling triple zero (000).
  • If you have been bitten or injured by an animal or insect seek advice from your doctor.
  • For further advice contact the Environmental Health Unit at the Department of Health and Human Services on 1300 761 874.
  • For information about licensed snake catchers contact the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Customer Information Centre on 136 186.
  • For more information on bites and stings, spiders and mosquitoes go to the Better Health Channel.
References
  • Floods, Department of Health and Human Services, Victorian Government. More information here.
  • Floodsafe: Home Emergency Plan Guide, Victoria State Emergency Service (SES). More information here.
  • Cleaning up after an emergency: Dealing with wind and water damage (pdf), Australian Red Cross. More information here.

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services - Emergency Management

Last updated: September 2016

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.