Tallinner bitten by viper blames untended green area

Common European viper.
Common European viper. Source: Tiit Lõugas/minupilt.err.ee

A Tallinn citizen who was recently bitten by a viper finds that the city has neglected an increasing number of green areas near residential buildings, which has attracted unwanted neighbors. The Kristiine city district elder promised to look for venomous snakes in the area and remove any that are found.

Tallinn has kept from mowing the grass at a growing number of green areas in an attempt to boost natural diversity in urban areas. One such area is located between the Mustamäe and Kristiine boroughs and is where Julia was bitten by a viper when out walking her dogs.

"I parked my car and went for a walk with the dogs. There were only two paths there, and you cannot really avoid stepping on them. I'm wearing sneakers now, but had on more summery footwear that day. I stepped on it and the snake bit me," Julia recalled.

Even though she didn't immediately realize what had happened, she began to feel worse.

"I immediately got a fever, in a matter of just a few hours. I did not feel well, while my leg only got swollen the next day. It was terrible, but I didn't immediately realize and only saw the bite marks when the inflammation kicked in," Julia said.

When she turned to the hospital the next day, Julia was told by doctors that the symptoms are indicative of a snake bite. She finds that city green areas should be mowed so as not to attract reptiles to where people live.

Jaanus Riibe, Kristiine district elder, said that the problem is in need of a rapid solution and that the area will be searched on Monday morning.

"Should we find something, we will consult with Tallinn Zoo in terms of how to remove the vipers and take them back to the forest. While we cannot keep nature out of cities, I believe venomous snakes cannot be allowed to remain where people live," Riibe said.

Citizens reported vipers in Tallinn's Pae Park this spring, with around one hundred viper bites reported in Estonia annually.

People bitten by a venomous snake should see a doctor as soon as possible.

"The first two hours are the most critical in case of viper bites. That is the time in which the person needs to get to a doctor should the antidote be needed, even though those are very rare occasions. The antidote needs to be administered inside two hours of the bite for those who are allergic," Made Oder, head of the Health Board's poison control center, told ERR.

More information on viper bites can be found at the center's website 16662.ee (Estonian and Russian). People should refrain from touching snakes. The common European adder/viper, as the only species of venomous snake in Estonia, is protected, and people can turn to the local government or the Estonian Society for the Protection of Animals to have them removed.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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