Following an article published on Wednesday by Gulf News, a reader has come forward to share a picture of a deadly viper he spotted in Dubailand last week.

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The reader, Jijin, an Indian expat, said that he was walking his dog on October 2 close to a residential community in Dubailand when he spotted the venomous snake.

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“We found the snake below some bushes when I was walking my dog. My dog could sense some danger and started to bark. That is when I noticed the snake curled up under the bushes. I informed the security personnel in my building and soon people from the building gathered to take a look at the snake,” said Jijin.

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“When I left the spot where I sighted it, the snake was alive. But later when people approached the snake, it looked lifeless. I think with all the construction going around in the area, the snake was harmed. I have heard vibration causes a snake to become irritated.”

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He added that in the last 30 years he has been living in the UAE, this was his first encounter with a deadly snake.

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“I hope my information will help people be aware about snakes in Dubailand as there are many pet-owners who take their dogs for a walk here.”

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Gulf News shared the picture with Dr Reza Khan of Dubai Municipality, who confirmed the reptile to be a Sochurek’s saw-scaled viper, also known as the eastern saw-scaled viper or a saw-scaled viper, belonging to the family of Echis carinatus sochureki.

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The deadliest land snake in UAE

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According to Dr Khan, the Sochurek’s saw-scaled viper is one of the deadliest land snakes to live in the UAE because it is often found close to human habitat and belongs to a species that are rather ‘short tempered’.

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“Typically, these snakes are found close to homes and desert areas like Jebel Ali, the Mushrif Park, Khawaneej, Awir, Lehbab, and Lisaili,” he added.

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Good piece of news

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According to Dr Khan, there aren’t too many of these vipers living in the UAE as their numbers are so low that they are rarely seen here.

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“It hides under trash, piled up rubbish, under garden hedges, rocks, boulders, etc. They are nocturnal and hence you don’t see them during the day,” said Dr Khan.

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Talking about instances of snake bites in the UAE, Dr Khan said: “In my 30 years of experience, there have not been more than two or three deaths from snakes in the UAE. Venomous snakes are rare to see and their bites more so.”

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Four commonly found snakes 

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1. Sochurek’s saw-scaled viper, eastern saw-scaled viper, saw-scaled viper Echis carinatus sochureki

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2. Oman Saw-scaled Viper Echis omanensis Babocsay 2004 or the carpet viper Echis carinatus, now replaced by Echis omanensis

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3. Arabian Sand Viper Cerastes gasperettii

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4. False Horned Viper Pseudocerastes persicus

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What to do when you spot a snake

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If you are in Dubai, Dr. Khan said to call Dubai Municipality on its emergency number – 800900. “The operator will pass the line to the vet or pest control section or to Dubai Safari, who will send professionals to have the reptile picked up.”

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What happens in the case of a snake bite

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A snake’s venom slowly prevents the blood from clotting. A human body reacts to poisonous venom with pain and swelling, which is then followed by systemic bleeding within six to 72 hours. If untreated, a snake bite may cause internal haemorrhaging and eventually organ failure.

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What to do in case of a snake bite

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The Dos

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• The affected person or an attendant must immediately call for an ambulance.

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• The patient must be in immobile condition.

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• Remove any watch/jewellery on the targeted area

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• Keep the bitten part of the body in a vertical position and do not move it

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• Clean the wound with a piece of cotton or tissue, but do not attach it to the wound – bandages should be strapped lightly and blood circulation shouldn’t be restricted

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• Take a picture of the snake to present to the doctor, without putting yourself at risk

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The Don’ts

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• Take pain killers

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• Put ice on the wound

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• Cut the area in an attempt to release the venom, and don’t try to suck out the poison – this will only increase the loss of blood

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• Wash the wound with water

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How long does a person survive after being bitten by a snake

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“Depends upon many factors,” said Dr Khan. “Patients can die from shock itself or if they stay calm – they could survive a six to eight hours after the bite.”

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