Poisonous snakes emerge early from hibernation due to warm, dry weather

Unusual January temperatures have confused snakes that usually wake up in the spring, their glands full of venom.

January 27, 2014 16:54
1 minute read.
A snake [illustrative photo]

A snake 370 (R). (photo credit: Tim Chong / Reuters)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For a symbolic $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


January’s unusually warm and dry weather has confused snakes, which usually hibernate during the winter and wake up in the spring. Because of the month’s higher temperatures, some venomous snakes have come out of their hiding places prematurely, posing dangers to those who get too close.

Hussein Amar, head of the emergency department of Safed’s Ziv Medical Center, warned the public this week to be alert in grassy areas to avoid snakebites. In fact, he recently treated a worker in an orchard at Dafna, a kibbutz, who was bitten by Palestine viper while harvesting grapefruit.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Majd Abu-Salah, 56, said a fellow worker told him she saw a snake in a tree and was afraid to get close. He decided to collect the grapefruit in her place, when a snake bit him on his finger. He grabbed the snake by its tail, threw it on the ground and killed it, then asked to be evacuated to the hospital.

The doctor said the snakebite was very unusual for January, as snakes usually appear beginning in March. The laborer, who suffered from vomiting and dizziness, was treated with an antidote and sent to the internal medicine department for supervision.

In an average year, Ziv doctors alone treat between 30 and 50 cases.

The period after hibernation is the most dangerous, Amar said, because the venom accumulates in the glands and, with a bite, the victim suffers destruction of the red cells in his blood and perhaps gastroenterological bleeding, irregular heartbeat and kidney damage.

Anyone who suffers from a snakebite must call an ambulance immediately. The victim should lie down calmly, as tension and a fast heartbeat spread the venom faster. The affected limb should be washed with water and kept immobile.

Never cut the skin to suck out the venom, advised Amar.

Don’t put ice directly on the wound, drink alcohol or take painkillers. Try to identify the type of snake or photograph it, so doctors will know what kind of antidote to administer.

Related Content

Holland Park’s forest, north of Eilat.
August 11, 2014
Promising trend of prosecution for environmental crimes, officials say